Left to Their Own Devices: How Digital Natives Are Reshaping the American Dream (Hardcover)
A sociologist explores the many ways that digital natives' interaction with technology has changed their relationship with people, places, jobs, and other stabilizing structures and created a new way of life that is at odds with the American Dream of past generations.
Digital natives are hacking the American Dream.
Young people brought up with the Internet, smartphones, and social media are quickly rendering old habits, values, behaviors, and norms a distant memory--creating the greatest generation gap in history.
In this eye-opening book, digital sociologist Julie M. Albright looks at the many ways in which younger people, facilitated by technology, are coming "untethered" from traditional aspirations and ideals, and asks: What are the effects of being disconnected from traditional, stabilizing social structures like churches, marriage, political parties, and long-term employment? What does it mean to be human when one's ties to people, places, jobs, and societal institutions are weakened or broken, displaced by digital hyper-connectivity?
Albright sees both positives and negatives. On the one hand, mobile connectivity has given digital nomads the unprecedented opportunity to work or live anywhere. But, new threats to well-being are emerging, including increased isolation, anxiety, and loneliness, decreased physical exercise, ephemeral relationships, fragmented attention spans, and detachment from the calm of nature.
In this time of rapid, global, technologically driven change, this book offers fresh insights into the unintended societal and psychological implications of lives exclusively lived in a digital world.
About the Author
Julie M. Albright, PhD, is a sociologist specializing in digital culture and communications. She is a lecturer in the Applied Psychology and Engineering Departments at the University of Southern California (USC). Dr. Albright's research has focused on the growing intersection of technology and social/behavioral systems. She was the co-principal investigator and project lead for the behavioral component of a $121 million smart-grid demonstration project with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the USC Information Sciences Institute, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and UCLA, which was funded by the US Department of Energy. She has also been a research associate with eHarmony. In addition, Dr. Albright has served as a peer reviewer for the National Science Foundation, the Economic and Social Research Council, and a variety of professional publications. The author of a number of book chapters and multiple peer-reviewed articles, she has also given talks for major data-center and energy conferences , including SAP for Utilities, IBM Global , DatacenterDynamics, and the Department of Defense. She has appeared as an expert in such national media as the Today show, CNN, NBC Nightly News, CBS, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, NPR, and many others.
“Julie M. Albright’s masterful book explains how technology shapes behavior, disrupts social norms, and ultimately will rewire society itself. Albright’s notion of the Untethered Society provides a new framework for understanding the impact of the internet and social media upon the world and ourselves. At turns frightening and hopeful, but at every turn thoughtful, Left to Their Own Devices represents a major contribution.”
—Dan Lyons, writer on HBO’s Emmy Award–winning comedy Silicon Valley and bestselling author of Lab Rats: How Silicon Valley Made Work Miserable for the Rest of Us and Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble
“When it comes to hacking the American Dream, digital is prompting us to wonder, Whose dream is it anyway? In this captivating look at modern society, Dr. Albright explores how technology is reshaping our norms and values and the rise of the American Dream 2.0.”
—Brian Solis, digital anthropologist, futurist, and bestselling author of Lifescale: How to Be Creative in an Era of Distraction
“If ever there was a wake-up call for humanity and technology, this is it. Albright has crafted a user’s manual for anyone with a digital heartbeat—and that’s you! Simply put, this is your brain, and this is your brain on digital. Answers to any questions can be found here.”
—John Nosta, Forbes contributor, advisor to the Google Health Advisory Board, and founder of NostaLab
“Our devices were supposed to set us free, but Albright makes a frighteningly persuasive case that they’re actually leaving us unmoored, cutting our connections to work, to the physical world, and to other humans. A warning for our time.”
—Glenn Reynolds, Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law, University of Tennessee, and author of An Army of Davids