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Why we are all addicts in today’s society

Posted August. 10, 2019 07:01,   

Updated August. 10, 2019 07:01


How long do you think your new office e-mail waits in the inbox until it gets opened? A minute or five? Maybe 10 minutes for those who are less impatient?

The answer is six seconds. Seventy percent of office e-mails are read just in six seconds on average. The author attributes this to people’s addiction to “goals” in today’s world, where they are obsessed with checking up on the updates and cannot be relaxed when there’s a number other than zero appearing next to the inbox.

The author, who teaches at New York University's Stern School of Business, is a psychologist who has studied the various types of addiction people go through. He has particularly focused on tech addiction, which includes the Internet and mobile devices, arising from the advanced technology. In his book’s first part titled “What Is Behavioral Addiction and Where Did It Come From?”, he gives a stern warning that we are all addicts to some extent.

Some may think of genetic factors that are known to contribute to addiction, but this is not always the case, and we are, in fact, all vulnerable to different kinds of addiction. What the author makes an issue of is “behavioral addiction.” The range of addiction has expanded from drugs to goals, feedback, improvement, difficulty, relationships, and shopping.

He suggests an interesting theory behind the rising cases of addiction to goals and improvement. Looking into the percentage of books that include words “goal pursuit” and “perfectionism,” the author found that until the 1980s, only a few of every 1,000 books contained the words. However, the percentage started to rise with the development of science and technology, and shot up in the 2000s, signaling another type of addiction people would constantly suffer from.

Then does this book provide solutions to addiction? No, it does not. Instead, the book provides detailed explanation for why you are anxiously and restlessly into something and why it’s hard to stop behavioral addiction. Thus, the book is closer to a research paper than a guide to escape the addiction.

Still, the psychologist introduced his own solutions to some kinds of addiction. For example, assume you can’t stop binge-watching on Netflix.

He suggests that you stop watching before a cliffhanger comes up in an episode. If this is too hard, you could move on to the next episode and stop as soon as the cliffhanger resolves. An episode’s cliffhanger usually gets resolved within the first five minutes of the next episode.

“If you obey the structure of the episodes laid out by the writers, you’ll struggle to escape the bingeviewing process,” the author argued, stressing that you could still enjoy the programs to the fullest even if you stop before cliffhangers.