The Acceleration of Addictiveness by Paul Graham

Rating: 8/10

Read More on AmazonRead the OriginalGet My Searchable Collection of 200+ Book Notes

The Acceleration of Addictiveness by Paul Graham

Rating: 8/10

Read More on AmazonGet My Searchable Collection of 200+ Book Notes

High-Level Thoughts

The world is getting more and more addictive. If you don't take direct actions to fight the addictiveness, you'll get swept up in it and lose greater and greater control as the years go on and tech gets better.

Summary Notes

As far as I know there's no word for something we like too much. The closest is the colloquial sense of "addictive."

Checkers and solitaire have been replaced by World of Warcraft and FarmVille. TV has become much more engaging, and even so it can't compete with Facebook.

And unless the forms of technological progress that produced these things are subject to different laws than technological progress in general, the world will get more addictive in the next 40 years than it did in the last 40.

Alcohol is a dangerous drug, but I'd rather live in a world with wine than one without. Most people can coexist with alcohol; but you have to be careful. More things we like will mean more things we have to be careful about.

as the world becomes more addictive, the two senses in which one can live a normal life will be driven ever further apart. One sense of "normal" is statistically normal: what everyone else does. The other is the sense we mean when we talk about the normal operating range of a piece of machinery: what works best.

Already someone trying to live well would seem eccentrically abstemious in most of the US. That phenomenon is only going to become more pronounced. You can probably take it as a rule of thumb from now on that if people don't think you're weird, you're living badly.

It took a while though—on the order of 100 years. And unless the rate at which social antibodies evolve can increase to match the accelerating rate at which technological progress throws off new addictions, we'll be increasingly unable to rely on customs to protect us

It will actually become a reasonable strategy (or a more reasonable strategy) to suspect everything new.

We'll have to worry not just about new things, but also about existing things becoming more addictive. That's what bit me. I've avoided most addictions, but the Internet got me because it became addictive while I was using it.

Now the slowness of hiking seems an advantage, because the longer I spend on the trail, the longer I have to think without interruption.

Maybe I can't plead Occam's razor; maybe I'm simply eccentric. But if I'm right about the acceleration of addictiveness, then this kind of lonely squirming to avoid it will increasingly be the fate of anyone who wants to get things done. We'll increasingly be defined by what we say no to.

And in any case, as Prohibition and the "war on drugs" show, bans often do more harm than good.

Several people have told me they like the iPad because it lets them bring the Internet into situations where a laptop would be too conspicuous. In other words, it's a hip flask.

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