His book Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked (PRH/Penguin; Penguin Audio/BOT; OverDrive Sample) details the problem. It is rising on Amazon after he appeared on NPR’s Fresh Air, moving from #400 to #23.
In the NPR interview Alter reviews some of the downsides of technology, saying our attention spans are “shorter than the attention of the average goldfish, which is nine seconds.”
Video games, such as World of Warcraft, which he calls “one of the most addictive experiences on the planet,” have become so all consuming that some players have had to go into recovery programs. “The gratification it provides is similar to that of other addictive behaviors, such as drug abuse or gambling,” says Alter.
On the horizon, he says, virtual reality is looming as the next big way to escape reality.
His solution to all of this is not new advice: decide for yourself if you are too immersed and counter it by going outside, without your phone, and spend time in a landscape that is not made out of pixels.
Most libraries bought a minimal number of copies, 2 or fewer for only their largest branches. Those that bought the fewest copies are seeing holds ratios of 5:1.