The Internet Trap, Five Costs of Living Online by Ashesh Mukherjee

51d9VqtAxmL._SX324_BO1,204,203,200_I received the book The Internet Trap, Five Costs of Living Online by Ashesh Mukherjee as a review copy from the publisher, Rupa Publications and am thankful to them for the same.

The blurb:

Whether we are checking emails, following friends on Facebook and Twitter, planning holidays on TripAdvisor, watching videos on YouTube, or simply browsing for deals on Amazon, the Internet pervades our professional and personal environments. The Internet has revolutionized our lives, but at what cost?

In The Internet Trap, Ashesh Mukherjee uses the latest research in consumer psychology to highlight the hidden costs of living online: too many temptations, too much information, too much customization, too many comparisons, and too little privacy. The book uses everyday examples to explain these costs including how surfing the Internet anonymously can encourage bad behavior, using social media can make us envious and unhappy, and doing online research can devalue the product finally chosen.

The book also provides actionable solutions to minimize these costs. For example, the book reveals how deciding not to choose is as important as deciding what to choose, setting up structural barriers to temptation can reduce overspending on e-commerce websites, and comparisons with others on social media websites need to be cold rather than hot. The Internet Trap provides a new perspective on the dark side of the Internet, and gives readers the tools to become smarter users of the Internet.

My take:

This book covers the five costs of internet which can be grouped into two categories: commercial costs for consumers and social cost for individuals. This book talks about the five costs of living online, namely, too much temptation, too much information, too much customization, too much comparison and too much pprivacy.

At the outset, the author talks about how internet has transformed our lives and how we lives most of our lives online. But it is a fact that internet has made life more difficult for us. The author talks about how there was no internet while he was growing up and how he was introduced to it. He also talks about the benefits of internet and the dark side of internet. He talks about how internet hurts us in five important ways which he calls the cost of living online. Ask me, with two teenagers and a husband who are addicted to it, I completely agree. Each of the five chapters of the book describes a cost, explains its psychological origins and suggest ways to minimize the cost.

The first chapter shows that the internet reduces our self control and makes us easy to overindulge; the second chapter talks about having a world of information at our fingertips which can paradoxically make it difficult to make good choices; the third chapter discusses why having it our own way can cause disappointment; the fourth chapter is about the comparing ourselves with others on the Internet in ways that make us less happy and less productive; and the fifth chapter reveals that people say they have little privacy on the net but then behave online as if no one is watching. The conclusion summarises the central themes of the book and looks into the future of our relationship with the internet.

The author also mentions that this book would be useful to the readers, be it a curious person interested in the net or a manager interested in the business implications of the internet. He also mentions that the Reader would gain broader insights into human psychology; how people think and act and are able to use these insights to make better decisions on their own. He also talks about how internet is a waste of time and money.

The author also mentions how temptations can sometime you take into addiction and these addictive behaviours prominent on the Internet are gaming and shopping. He talks about increased desire which depends on the gap between an ideal and actual States. He also mentions that the internet makes us vulnerable temptation by reducing a self control and at the end of the first chapter he talks about what we can do to keep this danger of temptation at bay.

Chapter two talks about how too much information leads to choice paralysis. He also mentions that research has shown that too much choice or too much information is bad for us in four important ways. He also talks about the three steps we can take to minimise the negative effects of too much information on the Internet namely satisfy and not maximize delegate choice and use decision tools. The third chapter talks about too much customisation in which the author stresses on the negative effects, that is, attitude formation, creativity, risky behavior, product attachment, product assembly, product co-creation, product pricing and online advertising. And like in the other chapters he talks about how we can reduce the echo chamber effect by precommitting it into alternative points of view.

Chapter 4 talks about too many comparisons and how social networks have made it easy to compare ourselves with others and how social networks encourage upward rather than downward social comparisons on the internet. He also talks about the costs of these comparisons, their power and what we can do to overcome it

Chapter 5 talks about too little privacy and how this lack of privacy on the internet is the latest chapter in a history of surveillance. This surveillance state is spreading from the online to the offline world, the costs we pay for it and the privacy gap. He has in details spoken about the reasons for privacy gap and also what we can do as individuals and firms to close this gap.

In conclusion the author mentions that the internet will be our workshop and playground in the 21st century and that we have to understand these costs to help us so we will benefit from the enormous potential of the internet for improving our lives

The language is simple and the author has actually written in the way that he is speaking to the reader about all these things. The way the author has written it made me think twice about what he has spoken and this book is a must read for the current generation who sits more on the internet and who is more wired and who has lesser friends then we had when we were kids and also for adults who are constantly on the net, whether browsing or chatting or even shopping. The research that has gone into the book is evident.

I would recommend this book to all those who are hooked on the internet.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book from the publisher in return for my honest review. I have NOT received any monetary compensation for the same.

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