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Your Happiness Was Hacked

Why Tech Is Winning the Battle to Control Your Brain - and How to Fight Back
Narrated by: Alex Salkever
Length: 5 hrs and 34 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Do you feel in control of your life or enslaved by your devices? Have you risked your life texting and driving? Do you sympathize with a test group of students who endured painful shocks rather than be separated from their phones? 

Digital technology is wonderful, but it's making us miserable, say former tech executives Vivek Wadhwa and Alex Salkever. There's a reason Apple CEO Tim Cook told the Guardian he won't let his nephew on social networks. We've become a nation of tech addicts - although it's not entirely our fault, and it is possible to enjoy the benefits of technology while taking our happiness back from the bots. 

Wadhwa and Salkever describe the applied neuroscience techniques developers are using to make their products so insidiously habit-forming and, drawing on the latest research, detail the negative impact of technology in four key areas: love, work, play, and life. 

There are dozens of vivid examples. Online dating apps like Tinder encourage users to evaluate people like products, leading to superficial, unsatisfying relationships. Workers check their email an average of 77 times a day, wreaking havoc on productivity. Children now spend nearly twice as much time playing inside with their screens as they do outside in the natural world - is it any wonder childhood obesity is a problem? The light from the devices so many of us look at right before we go to sleep suppresses the production of melatonin, a hormone vital for sleep and healthy organ functioning. 

But there's a way out. Wadhwa and Salkever lay out simple common-sense ways to disrupt developers' efforts to get you hooked, including six simple questions to help you decide what role any given technology should play in your life. Ironically, they even describe some emerging technologies designed to give users more control. 

Get back to making technology serve you, not the other way around!

©2018 Vivek Wadhwa and Alex Salkever (P)2018 Vivek Wadhwa and Alex Salkever

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A cautionary and relevant bellwether for our time

The authors provide a comprehensive overview of the ways data is collected via technology interaction and then used to manipulate behavior including influencing votes, targeting advertising, and fostering social isolation. The material is presented at an appropriate level for all levels of technical sophistication.

Some key points are repeated in different chapters, perhaps for emphasis, but the repetition got tedious at times. The social and psychological issues raised will definitely influence the listener to reconsider, limit, or discontinue interactions with social media and technology.

If you like non-fiction and want to learn more about the psycho-social impact of technology, I would highly recommend this book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful