3.5 out of 5 stars
A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.
Our reliance on some of the huge companies in almost all the things we do online is what makes this is a terrifying read. Their hold over us using some of the most sophisticated techniques around to keep us coming back every time our phone squeak at us. It is addictive and it is in those companies interest to keep us addicted too.
They seem to circumvent regulation too, claiming that they are doing all the things that are required to keep their users safe. However, they are not, as it is in their interests to keep us scrolling, clicking and making them money. The top engineering and neuroscientists who are making these apps against your willpower is hardly an even match so it is no wonder we are being subsumed into the online vortex so much.
Wigley includes a lot of information on how we consume our current digital diets. I don’t think we realise just how much time we all spend on screens of one form or another each day; it is quite shocking really. The way that the younger generation communicates is very different to how we used to do so, most of them have lots of messaging apps open and find the face to face communication far more difficult. Whilst an instant message may be easy to send, it is very easy to misinterpret a short pithy one-liner, something that is harder in front of someone as we pick up lots of visual clues from the person we are talking to. These modern apps are designed to be addictive, the amount of time my children spend on YouTube and Twitch is quite shocking. I use YouTube to listen to music a lot, but I am not watching the videos as it is on in the background.
This addiction is giving us what Barak Obama called an empathy deficit. It is not that we don’t care, but these devices are overwhelming us with their demands. We need that empathy as a society, it is the glue that binds us together. Companies providing the most addictive apps tend to aim for getting dopamine release that internal drug that you get from pleasurable moments. Experts are worried was this continual release of the drug is doing to our children’s brains. He explores how Generation Z is doing with regards to relationships and how the landscape of love and sexuality is changing. They are also changing the way we eat; the big brands are being nudged aside by this generation as they seek authentic companies to spend their money with; that is coupled with a greater environmental awareness that I think will change the political landscape in years to come.
I wouldn’t say I liked this book, Wigley talks about some very difficult subjects about the way that we interact with technology. However, I would say this should be essential reading for those that have children and who let them use technology to keep them occupied when you are doing other things. It has a clear structure to the book and he has obviously done his research well as he lays out his arguments on the positive and negatives of our device addiction and argues for the abolition of anonymity online which I had not really considered before. Well worth reading as it will make you think about how we use these devices.