How to do Nothing
Series: Reads and Reviews, Reads and Reviews - January 2022
Genre: Social Commentary
ISBN: 9781612197494
Odell's book focuses on the distraction of social media, however, she approaches the topic from a philosophical perspective that goes way beyond the social media realm. Her book isn't really about "doing nothing." Instead, the book focuses on the rise of social media, and how the constant updates and check-ins on social media have changed the way we interact with the real world. She also addresses how the distraction of social media has distanced us from the lives we actually live, and how a constant diet of news headlines, FOMO, and awareness of the latest "whatever" hasn't really contributed positively to the daily experience. Instead, the neediness of the attention economy just manifests more anxiety and sleep deprivation. Odell's book is full of historical context. She incorporates the words of Greek philosophers, artists, the environment, the demands of capitalism, and her own observations into a book that is rich with detailed and thoughtful observation. 
I have been continually re-analyzing the way that I interact with social media, and this book gave me a lot of questions to mull over. The points Odell makes in this book really hit close to home. After listening to an interview with the author, I decided to make some changes. I still have social media - it's not a platform I intend to completely remove from my life. However, I was certainly guilty of the mindless scroll, and I know that I gave myself more anxiety by doing so. I deleted Instagram and Facebook off my phone and I deleted the login information also. Now, I have scheduled times of the week where I check-in on both platforms. They still exist in my life, but I am intentional about how I interact in those spaces. Immediately, I've felt such a relaxation in my thoughts. I'm more focused, and I don't find myself reaching for my phone every five minutes - really because there's not much to engage my attention besides my Spanish language app or the weather. 
If you don't have the time to read this book full at the moment (it is a dense read), I highly suggest checking out Odell's interview with Jon Faveau from the Offline Podcast.
About the Book

“In a world where addictive technology is designed to buy and sell our attention, and our value is determined by our 24/7 data productivity, it can seem impossible to escape. But in this inspiring field guide to dropping out of the attention economy, artist and critic Jenny Odell shows us how we can still win back our lives.

Odell sees our attention as the most precious—and overdrawn—resource we have. And we must actively and continuously choose how we use it. We might not spend it on things that capitalism has deemed important … but once we can start paying a new kind of attention, she writes, we can undertake bolder forms of political action, reimagine humankind’s role in the environment, and arrive at more meaningful understandings of happiness and progress.

Far from the simple anti-technology screed, or the back-to-nature meditation we read so often, How to do Nothing is an action plan for thinking outside of capitalist narratives of efficiency and techno-determinism. Provocative, timely, and utterly persuasive, this book will change how you see your place in our world.”

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