‘How to Do Nothing’ by Jenny Odell

This [book] is helping me contextualize how I spend my time in the pandemic, how that lack of any third space for us all is now developing online more tangibly than ever before, and how I approach the tropes of the industries I’m a part of 👌

Matthew Cassinelli (@mattcassinelli)

At first, Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy sounds like it’d be a book about…I dunno, talking long walks in the woods or doing a digital detox by staring at walls or something. But it’s really so much more than that.

It’s a manifesto on reclaiming your attention and even your sense of self from the divided, cacophonous, info-overloaded, unfulfilling, kneejerk-reaction world that social media companies seem intent on trapping us in forever — or at least as long as we help them rake in that sweet, sweet ad revenue.

From the description:

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.

This is one of those books that could help you entirely reframe your relationship with technology and how it affects your day-to-day life. It’s also written in what I would call a ‘friendly/casual San Franciscan’ style, so if you’re into that vibe, this will be an enjoyable read for you.

Get the book in these formats: