Matt Richtel
Matt Richtel, author of ‘A Deadly Wandering: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention’

We all understand that technology is addicting. Every passing year, we become more dependent on our gadgets to get us through the day. And although it can seem like a harmless problem, this addiction has deadly consequences. Perhaps the best way to illustrate the problem is to examine the implications of using a smart phone while driving. Consider this – more than 3,000 teens die each year in crashes caused by texting while driving. That is 300 more deaths a year than drunk driving. Why do we still continue to use our phones in the car, despite the consequences? This week we interview Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Matt Richtel. Matt is the author of the New York Times Bestseller, A Deadly Wandering: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention. In the book, and this episode, Matt explains what technology is doing to our brains through the true story of a deadly car crash that was caused by texting a driving. We not only learn about the neuroscience, but we finally see the real life implications of our addictions.

Matt Richtel is a novelist, cartoonist and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times. He writes about technology, its impact on society, and how it changes the way we how we work, play, and relate to each other. His 2010 series, ‘Our Brain On Computers‘ focuses on how constant use of our devices impacts not only our behavior but our thought processes and even our neurology. His 2009 series about the dangers of multitasking while driving won the Pulitzer for national reporting.

Matt joined the Times in 2000 and has written on range of topics, including Internet gambling, identity theft, corporate espionage, video games, mobile communications, the dot com boom and bust, and the pornography industry. He was a Loeb award finalist for his work on the Hewlett-Packard spying scandal and the winner of best project from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers for his work on distracted driving.


“Social information is engrained in us. So when the phone rings, it is a piece of social information that is nearly impossible to ignore.”

– Matt Richtel

Quotes from Matt:

[shadowbox]”Young people are so engrossed (while texting) that they don’t even realize they are piloting a missile.”

“This is an epidemic, it’s all age groups. Even with all of the awareness and laws we have now, the problem is only getting worse.”

“If you are constantly stimulating your brain, you may be losing the ability to think through more complex problems.”[/shadowbox]

What we learn in this episode:

  • What is happening in the brain when we text and drive?
  • How does a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist decide what story to cover?
  • How does Skinnerian Theory play a role in explaining our infatuation with our smart phones?


A Deadly Wandering: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention

Twitter: @mrichtel

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