Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Welcome to Another Edition of My Dental Hygienist Is Cooler Than Your Dental Hygienist ...

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

"Addictive tech is part of the mainstream in a way that additive substances never will be.  Abstinence is not an option" (9).

I don't know about the rest of you, but I see my dental hygienist to get book recommendations.  Teeth schmeeth!  We chat about what we're reading.  My hygienist ingests a lot of non-fiction, a genre I tend to avoid, so I'm always excited when she steers me toward intriguing, informational texts.  When she started telling me recently about Irresistible by NYU professor Adam Alter, I knew I had to read it.  I'm glad I did, too.  It's an utterly fascinating book that sheds a harsh, eye-opening light on the addictive power of modern tech.

Alter begins by defining behavioral addiction as different from alcoholism, overeating, drug abuse, etc.  Behavioral addictions, he says, "arise when a person can't resist a behavior, which despite addressing a deep psychological need in the short-term, produces significant harm in the long-term" (20).  He cites examples of people so obsessed with playing video games that they don't eat, sleep, or socialize off-line for days on end.  Others can't look away from their phones long enough to push their child on a swing or converse with their partner at a restaurant.  These obsessions are dangerous to the addict's health as well as to that of those around them in ways both physical (driving while texting, for example) and emotional (ignoring one's child or spouse).  Even more disturbing, Alter says, is that these devices, games, and apps are purposely engineered to be addictive.

As chilling as Alter's descriptions may be, he also offers a glimmer of hope.  He talks about successful treatments being used at recovery centers for behavioral addicts.  He also recommends setting limits on screen time, especially for young children, and encouraging them to engage in real-life interactions.  The best way to stop an addiction, of course, is never to start one.  To that end, Alter proposes monitoring the use of addictive technology—both in ourselves and in our children—very closely.  After all, he says, "There isn't a bright line between addicts and the rest of us.  We're all one product or experience away from developing our own addictions" (4).  

Although Alter discusses all kinds of scientific studies and terms, Irresistible is written in a conversational tone that makes it easy to read.  The topic is compelling, Alter's examples are spot-on, and his message of warning comes across loud and clear.  This is an important book, one that is both timely and life-altering.  You're definitely going to want to put down your iPhone and give it a read.

(Readalikes:  I don't usually read books like this, so nothing is coming to mind.  Ideas?)

Grade:


If this were a movie, it would be rated:


for language (a few F-bombs, plus milder expletives) and disturbing subject matter

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find

7 comments:

  1. I wish my dentist and I had something as fun to talk about as books. We never talk. This one sounds interesting. Some nonfiction is so fascinating but of course I prefer fiction. ;)

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    1. Dental chair conversations can be super awkward. Luckily, everyone at the office I go to is super nice and friendly. I've been seeing this hygienist for years, so we always have lots to talk about.

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  2. Oh that's awesome! I wish I had someone like this at my dentists office! It would certainly make the trip less dreadful :)

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    1. The people at my dental office are all really nice. ALMOST makes me look forward to going to the dentist, but not really :) Ha ha.

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  3. I don't read much non-fiction either, but this does sound interesting. I think the general population could be characterized as an addict with how much time we all spend on our phones. Not talking of course! *gasp* but looking on the internet and various apps. I feel a lost if I forget my phone which I guess isn't a good sign.

    Glad to find another Robyn Carr fan! I do find her writing heartfelt, too. :)

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  4. I need a new dental hygienist! LOL. I am, unfortunately, definitely addicted to my iPhone. I'm starting to think I could benefit from one of those handy apps that help you limit your phone time. Is that ironic? ;-)

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  5. Like you, I don't normally read books like this (read: I read zero non-fiction), but I like the concept. I talk books with my dental hygienist, too! It's hard to answer questions with sharp utensils in my mouth, but we make it work.

    Do You Dog-ear?

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