It seems like every day we are hearing new discoveries about the negative effects of social media and addictive technology. They are causing depression, anxiety, causing sleep issues, and shortening attention spans.
I think we will discover that social media is the smoking of our generation. The tide is turning and this is being reflected in the media narrative and new research from the scientific community.
Changing your relationship to technology is the #1 easiest method to improve your life in the modern world. The research is overwhelming about the negative effects of social media usage. The exact same thing has been recorded for people that overuse their smartphones. I am not going to share links to these studies, you can find more information in the books below. Take responsibility for your digital life.
People try to do all sorts of clever and difficult things to improve life instead of doing the simplest, easiest thing — refusing to participate in activities that make life bad. – Leo Tolstoy
Books On Social Media And Addicting Technology
These books helped me understand the unhealthy technology habits that were holding me back. I thought it was fine because everyone else was doing it. Once I learned about how incredibly dangerous this technology was I could never go back. It’s important to really internalize the danger and then make a change for the better. Once I read Irresistible, I realized how dangerous these addicting technologies are. I knew I had to learn more about this emergent and under reported phenomena – these are the best books on social media and addicting technology I recommend everyone read.
Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked
If you can’t stop scrolling through your social media feeds, checking your notifications, and unconsciously reaching for your phone this is the book for you to read. Irresistible is a groundbreaking book that shows the science behind the addictions that our technology creates. He covers many different types of technology and shows they are engineered to be as addicting as slot-machines and even cocaine. This is the best book on this list and a must-read for anyone living in the 21st century.
Deep Work: Rules For Focused Success In A Distracted World
Cal Newport makes the case for the importance of focused, intense work in a distracted world. This is the most important skill in a world being disrupted by automation and outsourcing. For the sake of our careers, businesses, and livelihood everyone needs to develop this skill. If you can learn to work undistracted by technology you are well on your way to becoming a top performer in your industry. Cal Newport’s practical advice will skyrocket your productivity.
The Attention Merchants: The Epic Scramble To Get Inside Our Heads
Attention merchant: an industrial-scale harvester of human attention. A firm whose business model is the mass capture of attention for resale to advertisers.
Tim Wu has conceptualized the business model of modern social media companies. The battle against attention merchants is the struggle most people in the Western world face every waking minute of their day. This is a result of technological growth and innovation but it is based on principles that have been used in industries for over a hundred years.
Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now
Ten Arguments is the best social media specific book on this list, and it is written a Silicon valley pioneer. Jaron Lanier warns us about the destructive and depressing power of social media, both at the personal and societal level. Jaron Lanier participates in no social media, he truly practices what he preaches. Somehow, Lanier is still optimistic about technology even though he despises the business model of social media companies.
You Are Not A Gadget: A Manifesto
The second book by Jaron Lanier in this list. This book is a refreshing perspective from a technology insider, that technological progress is not inevitably a positive change. If people lose their humanity in the 21st century because of the change in human interactions caused by a socially networked world we are all in danger. I wish this book was required reading for every tech CEO.
The Shallows: What The Internet Is Doing To Our Brains
The Shallows explores the intellectual and cultural consequences of the internet. Like every “tool for the mind”, the internet shapes our behavior, and literally reroutes our neural pathways. Every information technology we use comes with an intellectual ethic. Printed books serve to promote deep learning, and focused attention. The internet facilitates rapid communication and optimized information drip fed from an algorithm. This new technology is literally shaping humans in its image, quite the opposite of how technology idealists envision it.
The Hacking Of The American Mind: The Science Behind The Corporate Takeover Of Our Bodies and Brains
A deep study into the hijacking of our natural survival instincts by corporate America. Our pursuit of happiness has turned malignant after being subverted by a culture of addiction and depression. This is a recent phenomena, exacerbated by government legislation and subsidies, the dangerous combination of ever present temptation (porn, social media, sugar, and drugs) and chronic stress (internet, money, work, home) have led to an epidemic of addiction, depression, and chronic disease. This book covers more than social media and technology, and exposes the dangerous trend in our society.
The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom
Published in 2011, Evgeny Morozov’s ideas have been vindicated by recent developments. As a journalist and social commentator the author argues that the internet is as much a tool for revolutionaries as it is for authoritarian governments. Social media sites have become easy for authoritarian regimes to monitor and crush dissent. Morozov takes a stance that is contrary to the typical cyber-utopian stance that comes out of Silicon Valley.
The Plug In Drug: Television, Computers, and Family Life
A great way to understand the world is to read books about the past. The Plug In Drug was a landmark study on the effect of television on the development of children. The author is not anti-technology as much as pro-family and stresses the importance of family bonds in the development of a child. The importance is to control the medium and not be controlled by it. The arguments against television should be a massive warning sign about the pervasive use of technology in childhood in the modern world.
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Four Arguments For The Elimination of Television
This is the greatest piece of dissent in this entire list. Writing in 1977, Jerry Mander makes the argument that TV is not reformable and should be completely destroyed. The problems with technology are completely inseparable from the medium. This was a revolutionary idea in the 1970s, that technology used for entertainment was impossible to reform, as the author said, “as absurd as speaking of the reform of a technology such as guns”
iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy – and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood – and What That Mean for the Rest of Us
Don’t let the obnoxious title fool you. This book provides a lot of value about the effect of smartphones on the development of the recent generation of youth. The recent generation were the first to spend their entire adolescence in the age of the smartphone. This has led to distinctions from every single generation that preceded them. They reject social taboos previous generations took for granted, and communicate differently. The changes in their development have implications for everyone.