I recently read Matt Richtel’s Silicon Valley thriller “Hooked,” and loved it. Matt is a tech reporter at The New York Times and a versatile talent — he even writes a comic strip under a pen name — and he really nailed a key element of modern computing culture: Addiction.
It’s the feeling of being exhausted, yet logging on to check e-mail before bedtime — and finding that you’ve been up hours longer without even nodding off. It’s working online and realizing that you kept typing away hours past lunchtime. It’s chatting online and checking your social networks, when you need to make phone calls to complete other assignments. It’s forgetting to exercise, clean house, or bathe, while you bask in the glow of your monitor.
Matt’s novel suggests that companies might even be inclined to deliberately make the technology addictive, that there’s some chemical reaction in the brain that keeps you working against your better judgment. And that companies could easily use metatags and other features to induce subliminal suggestions.
It’s pretty dystopian, yet as with most good satire, it’s not too far off the mark of where we are now.