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Your Happiness Was Hacked: Why Tech Is Winning the Battle to Control Your Brain--And How to Fight Back

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"Technology is a great servant but a terrible master. This is the most important book ever written about one of the most significant aspects of our lives--the consequences of our addiction to online technology and how we can liberate ourselves and our children from it." --Dean Ornish, M.D. Founder & President, Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Clinical Professor of Me "Technology is a great servant but a terrible master. This is the most important book ever written about one of the most significant aspects of our lives--the consequences of our addiction to online technology and how we can liberate ourselves and our children from it." --Dean Ornish, M.D. Founder & President, Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Clinical Professor of Medicine, UCSF, Author, The Spectrum Technology: your master, or your friend? Do you feel ruled by your smartphone and enslaved by your e-mail or social-network activities? Digital technology is making us miserable, say bestselling authors and former tech executives Vivek Wadhwa and Alex Salkever. We've become a tribe of tech addicts--and it's not entirely our fault. Taking advantage of vulnerabilities in human brain function, tech companies entice us to overdose on technology interaction. This damages our lives, work, families, and friendships. Swipe-driven dating apps train us to evaluate people like products, diminishing our relationships. At work, we e-mail on average 77 times a day, ruining our concentration. At home, light from our screens is contributing to epidemic sleep deprivation. But we can reclaim our lives without dismissing technology. The authors explain how to avoid getting hooked on tech and how to define and control the roles that tech is playing and could play in our lives. And they provide a guide to technological and personal tools for regaining control. This readable book turns personal observation into a handy action guide to adapting to our new reality of omnipresent technology.


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"Technology is a great servant but a terrible master. This is the most important book ever written about one of the most significant aspects of our lives--the consequences of our addiction to online technology and how we can liberate ourselves and our children from it." --Dean Ornish, M.D. Founder & President, Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Clinical Professor of Me "Technology is a great servant but a terrible master. This is the most important book ever written about one of the most significant aspects of our lives--the consequences of our addiction to online technology and how we can liberate ourselves and our children from it." --Dean Ornish, M.D. Founder & President, Preventive Medicine Research Institute, Clinical Professor of Medicine, UCSF, Author, The Spectrum Technology: your master, or your friend? Do you feel ruled by your smartphone and enslaved by your e-mail or social-network activities? Digital technology is making us miserable, say bestselling authors and former tech executives Vivek Wadhwa and Alex Salkever. We've become a tribe of tech addicts--and it's not entirely our fault. Taking advantage of vulnerabilities in human brain function, tech companies entice us to overdose on technology interaction. This damages our lives, work, families, and friendships. Swipe-driven dating apps train us to evaluate people like products, diminishing our relationships. At work, we e-mail on average 77 times a day, ruining our concentration. At home, light from our screens is contributing to epidemic sleep deprivation. But we can reclaim our lives without dismissing technology. The authors explain how to avoid getting hooked on tech and how to define and control the roles that tech is playing and could play in our lives. And they provide a guide to technological and personal tools for regaining control. This readable book turns personal observation into a handy action guide to adapting to our new reality of omnipresent technology.

30 review for Your Happiness Was Hacked: Why Tech Is Winning the Battle to Control Your Brain--And How to Fight Back

  1. 5 out of 5

    Caroline Sage

    Enjoyable quick read with a nice overview of the concerns associated with technology as used in our lives. Unfortunately, it did not have any thoughtful paradigms on how to approach tech in your life other than a list of questions that a second grader could have developed. I was hoping for more than a referral to their website on what to do about the problem they write about that most people already acknowledges is a problem. Reads like a longer version of an article for the New York Times Magaz Enjoyable quick read with a nice overview of the concerns associated with technology as used in our lives. Unfortunately, it did not have any thoughtful paradigms on how to approach tech in your life other than a list of questions that a second grader could have developed. I was hoping for more than a referral to their website on what to do about the problem they write about that most people already acknowledges is a problem. Reads like a longer version of an article for the New York Times Magazine. Didn’t need to be a whole book,

  2. 5 out of 5

    Joséphine (Word Revel)

    Initial thoughts: This is one of those books that consolidates what you probably already know, backs that knowledge up with research and makes a plea for readers to actually act upon that knowledge. I think by now, most of us are aware about the negative impact of technology and social media on our relationships and health. Vivek Wadhwa and Alex Salkever, however, acknowledge the benefits of technology as well, which is why they strive for balance and are all about human agency. Even though ther Initial thoughts: This is one of those books that consolidates what you probably already know, backs that knowledge up with research and makes a plea for readers to actually act upon that knowledge. I think by now, most of us are aware about the negative impact of technology and social media on our relationships and health. Vivek Wadhwa and Alex Salkever, however, acknowledge the benefits of technology as well, which is why they strive for balance and are all about human agency. Even though there was hardly any new information for me, for some, the stats they cited might still come as a surprise. Their suggestions on how to limit and control our use of technology are accessible, and are beneficial not only for those who decide to follow these suggestions but also for the people who interact with them.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    I heard one of the authors interviewed on the Michael Smerconish show and like most people, related to the problem. The authors make some excellent points in the book about how technology works and how it’s programmed to spike our additive tendencies. But this could have been an article and most of the tips are obvious.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Shailaja

    There's this thing about star ratings that I find entirely limiting. "Your Happiness was Hacked" is one of those books that everyone must read for the sheer importance of underlining how we are all dependent on our devices and can't seem to stay away from them. For that, the book deserves 5 stars. At the same time, there are parts of the book that are research-heavy and while I, for one, don't mind them at all, there may be others who find it obstructing the flow and readability. For this (and pu There's this thing about star ratings that I find entirely limiting. "Your Happiness was Hacked" is one of those books that everyone must read for the sheer importance of underlining how we are all dependent on our devices and can't seem to stay away from them. For that, the book deserves 5 stars. At the same time, there are parts of the book that are research-heavy and while I, for one, don't mind them at all, there may be others who find it obstructing the flow and readability. For this (and purely for those who prefer a more anecdotal flow to their non-fiction) this gets 4 stars. I do especially appreciate the fact that Wadhwa does not shy away from placing the onus of responsibility on the creators of tech and not merely the users. There's a lot of research that explains why we are addicted to our devices and when you read the book, you start looking at your phone with a completely new filter; As the thing that steals your attention: one of your most valuable assets. I wish there were a few more chapters devoted to breaking free of the addictive nature of tech although there is one particular chapter that creates a set of 6 questions you should ask yourself when it comes to any application or platform. Probably a more practical book in that domain is Catherine Price's book, 'How to Break Up with Your Phone.' All told, a book you must read in order to take back control of your life, reconnect with life the way it ought to be lived and foregoing the idea of instant response and instant gratification that phones induce in us all. Our brains are not slot machines; let's stop treating them that way.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    "Technology has given us so many gifts. Yet a growing volume of research finds that Americans are unhappier now than they have been in the past decade and are becoming unhappier." "Our tech addiction has made it hard for us to sit still or even simply to pay attention." "The current generations may be the last who remember a life before this technology invasion overwhelmed us." "A feed of world news becomes a list built by a nameless. faceless algorithm of topics and events the system decides inter "Technology has given us so many gifts. Yet a growing volume of research finds that Americans are unhappier now than they have been in the past decade and are becoming unhappier." "Our tech addiction has made it hard for us to sit still or even simply to pay attention." "The current generations may be the last who remember a life before this technology invasion overwhelmed us." "A feed of world news becomes a list built by a nameless. faceless algorithm of topics and events the system decides interests us. It limits our choices by confining it to options within a set of patterns deriving our past consumption history, and this may or may not relate to our immediate needs or interests." "Most studies find that kids are plying outside about 50% less than their parents did." "We are letting technology cut our connection to nature." "Prior to the smartphone era. we never turned on the television in the middle of the night when we went to the bathroom." "We've let smartphones run roughshod over our lives, not because they offer respite from our annoying kids, but because they offer respite form our annoying selves." "Our growing reliance on digital information makes us less and less likely to attempt to recall simple facts rather than Google them." "Algorithms and digital intermediaries shape what we find, what we find shapes what we think we know, and what we think we know shapes what we think is the truth." "Car companies could simply block mobile phone texting or voice usage while the car is moving. But fixing problems when your customers don't want the fixes takes a real commitment." "Chinese Internet game operators are mandated to install anti addiction systems whereby the first three hours of play proceed normally, but the games themselves award points more slowly for the next two hours, after which users receive in game warnings like you have entered unhealthy game time, please offline immediately to rest. If you do not,your health will be damaged, and your points will be cut to zero."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Wrox

    Is technology our friend or fiend? Is it our master or are we in control? We live in a world where we cannot live without smartphones or computers. Though digital life may seem innocuous and useful, it is rather making us miserable, say Vivek and Alex, both best selling authors and former tech executives. Technology is pervasive and is constantly updating and upgrading. The number of softwares are unfathomable and it increases everyday. Looking at the applications in a superficial manner may seem Is technology our friend or fiend? Is it our master or are we in control? We live in a world where we cannot live without smartphones or computers. Though digital life may seem innocuous and useful, it is rather making us miserable, say Vivek and Alex, both best selling authors and former tech executives. Technology is pervasive and is constantly updating and upgrading. The number of softwares are unfathomable and it increases everyday. Looking at the applications in a superficial manner may seem that they're created with good intentions such as to make our life easy and better, instead what they do is ensnare us and make us stagnant progressively. But all these apps have their own benefits and assist us in unprecedented ways. Your happiness was hacked is a book that discloses all the advantages and disadvantages of Technology, it's more an expose than a self help book. It comprises research datas on technology and its effects on various aspects of life, real life incidents, obscure information and tips which we all know by now, such as social medias induce loneliness and envy, devices distract us and reduce our productivity and skills, the rise of pornography and evolution of love, how videogames diminished the vitalizing outdoor games and many more hot topics. Alex and Vivek are former tech executives and we can observe their expertise very lucid in the papers but the efficacy of this as a self help book is a bit low. Your Happiness was Hacked is indeed an eye-opener with facts and research datas but the letdown is that we already know them except the vain research datas. It's an enjoyable quick read with lot of concerning topics but it didn't have any thoughtful methods to approach technology and devices other than some questions which are pretty obvious. Rating - 3.5/5

  7. 4 out of 5

    Florent Diverchy

    Disappointing... Do I think that we use too much technology for our health? YES Do I want to learn how to use it less? YES Was I expecting to be 100% aligned with this book? YES Unfortunately, what I read was far from what I was expecting. All the cited studies are far from airtight, and correlation are happily mixed with causation, certainly leading sometimes to inverse causations: - Do people feel lonely in London because they use more social network there, or do they use more social networks becaus Disappointing... Do I think that we use too much technology for our health? YES Do I want to learn how to use it less? YES Was I expecting to be 100% aligned with this book? YES Unfortunately, what I read was far from what I was expecting. All the cited studies are far from airtight, and correlation are happily mixed with causation, certainly leading sometimes to inverse causations: - Do people feel lonely in London because they use more social network there, or do they use more social networks because you feel more lonely in big megalopolis? - Are couples dissatisfied of their love life because they use porn , or do they use porn because they are dissatisfied with their love life? - Do people who interact only with people online fall in a state of depression, or does depression lead you to stay inside and to interact with people only online? I am far from convinced it always goes in the same direction. I'm also disppointed about the solutions given to the problem. For example, I don't agree when the authors say that Facebook and other giants need to solve the problem themselves. It all falls in our hands.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kristoffer Sandén

    4/5 Nice and convenient little read that is rather straight to the point. It interestingly informs the reader on the pros and cons with technology, referring to studies, relevant books in combination with their own professional and private experiences. The conclusion is however rather weak and doesn’t really provide any ground-breaking insights. Still, smaller steps and suggestions for how we can individually adapt and utilize technologies as tools in mindful ways are provided throughout. Likewis 4/5 Nice and convenient little read that is rather straight to the point. It interestingly informs the reader on the pros and cons with technology, referring to studies, relevant books in combination with their own professional and private experiences. The conclusion is however rather weak and doesn’t really provide any ground-breaking insights. Still, smaller steps and suggestions for how we can individually adapt and utilize technologies as tools in mindful ways are provided throughout. Likewise, the author’s points out the reckless utilization of technology development that certainly affects the health of the general public, hands down the most important point of the book. I wish there was more than the limited few ideas for how these organizations would need to become more responsible for their actions in that regard. Hopefully, this book among other similar minded books and their ideas will eventually become common knowledge.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    Lots of anecdotal evidence and personal experience / analysis, not much on offer by way of an antidote. Three stars for raising awareness: "In some cases, resolution of problems resulting from technology design and build may require government intervention. Though we would hope that companies would recognize when what they are doing is clearly not in the public interest, the profit motive may be too deeply ingrained, as has been borne out in other industries that foster deep addictions, such as t Lots of anecdotal evidence and personal experience / analysis, not much on offer by way of an antidote. Three stars for raising awareness: "In some cases, resolution of problems resulting from technology design and build may require government intervention. Though we would hope that companies would recognize when what they are doing is clearly not in the public interest, the profit motive may be too deeply ingrained, as has been borne out in other industries that foster deep addictions, such as the tobacco and alcohol industries, the gambling industry, and the processed-food (junk-food) industry." (page 178)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I really wanted to like this! Based on the description, I was expecting this to be a bit more heavy on the human psychology of our societal addition to social media and our smart phones. Most of the book was about how tech is damaging our relationships, love lives, work life, etc... which feels like something most folks who are picking up this kind of book already know. All told, there wasn't *that* much on the human psychology of tech addiction (e.g. the battle to control your brain). What it h I really wanted to like this! Based on the description, I was expecting this to be a bit more heavy on the human psychology of our societal addition to social media and our smart phones. Most of the book was about how tech is damaging our relationships, love lives, work life, etc... which feels like something most folks who are picking up this kind of book already know. All told, there wasn't *that* much on the human psychology of tech addiction (e.g. the battle to control your brain). What it had was mostly a discussion of habit loops/habit formation/behavioral addiction. This theme is covered extensively in most modern self-help books, so I didn't find it that revolutionary.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Interesting book that covers the topic of how technology shapes our daily habits and decisions. More specifically how UX design and decisions take over user's time and experience and what data show the adverse effects on our lives. On the negative side the argument's obsession on technology's adverse effects somehow reminded me of the negative television watching arguments of earlier decades. Still pretty good read. Interesting book that covers the topic of how technology shapes our daily habits and decisions. More specifically how UX design and decisions take over user's time and experience and what data show the adverse effects on our lives. On the negative side the argument's obsession on technology's adverse effects somehow reminded me of the negative television watching arguments of earlier decades. Still pretty good read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Uttara

    A great book with a blend of technological backing up of facts (which at times might be overwhelming for a common man) and insights into how people who are creators of technology itself take measures to maintain a balance yet fail at times, but still keep at it. Definitely a book to be on the list. 👍

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ravi Shankar

    Well researched book this book gives a detailed account of the negative effects of technology and social media on different aspects of our life. It was an insightful read with a lot to learn on how to monitor and control our online addiction.

  14. 5 out of 5

    DanSk

    It is ironic that I ‘read’ this as an audiobook. It continually made me feel like putting my phone away and just tuning out on my train commute like I did many years ago. Thoughtful and poignant, this book helps on my continual journey towards regaining control over my time.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jack Spain

    Very interesting and contemplative read. I have had the pleasure to know Vivek for the past 15 years and appreciate his passion for exposing reality among current trends.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sveta Mobile

    Highly recommend

  17. 4 out of 5

    Warren Mcpherson

    The book positions itself at the intersection of important and interesting topics but it didn't deliver anything particularly novel. The book positions itself at the intersection of important and interesting topics but it didn't deliver anything particularly novel.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Katie Elizabeth

    Another GREAT book by Vivek Wadhwa!!! Extremely insightful! Your Happiness Was Hacked is packed full of science backed data on the negative effects of today's tech. The book is not prescriptive but rather flexible, offering readers numerous ways to regain control and use tech as a benefit instead of a drain. Another GREAT book by Vivek Wadhwa!!! Extremely insightful! Your Happiness Was Hacked is packed full of science backed data on the negative effects of today's tech. The book is not prescriptive but rather flexible, offering readers numerous ways to regain control and use tech as a benefit instead of a drain.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Raina H.

    It was okay, although I feel as though it was written for someone who's never once considered the possibility that technology and social media may not be good for our brains. I feel like my hand was being led the entire way and that I now have a lot of useless facts to support what I already knew. I found it repetitive and slow. This entire book has the same energy as a school research paper. I agree with the points it brings up but I also didn't learn anything new. It was okay, although I feel as though it was written for someone who's never once considered the possibility that technology and social media may not be good for our brains. I feel like my hand was being led the entire way and that I now have a lot of useless facts to support what I already knew. I found it repetitive and slow. This entire book has the same energy as a school research paper. I agree with the points it brings up but I also didn't learn anything new.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Indra Nooyi

    With technology so present in our lives, I often wonder: have we gone too far? I recently read “Your Happiness Was Hacked” by Alex Salkever and Vivek Wadhwa, and was captivated by their take on this question — add it to your list!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Cheyenne

  22. 4 out of 5

    Miguel Sibayan

  23. 4 out of 5

    James

  24. 5 out of 5

    Harold Mendez

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lycheeseed

  26. 5 out of 5

    Dave D'Antonio

  27. 4 out of 5

    Olga Caltacci

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Rosenthal

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laurel

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

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