Swipe: The Science Behind Why We Don’t Finish What We Start

Tracy Maylett, Tim Vandehey

Publisher: Amplify Publishing Pages: 264 Price: (hardcover) $28.00 ISBN: 9781645435532 Reviewed: January, 2023 Author Website: Visit »

In Swipe, psychologist and management consultant Tracy Maylett, and writer Tim Vandehey discuss what happens when we instinctively, unthinkingly divert our attention from something meaningful to us and refocus it on something low-risk and low-effort. Borrowing a term from the world of dating apps, they call this “Swiping,” as in swiping away from whatever is in front of oneself toward “the next new thing.”

The authors write that they “began looking at Swiping through the lens of business,” specifically, companies trying to keep employees engaged with the task at hand. They then broadened out their view. They easily prove the concept’s universal applicability and detail its widespread effects.

The authors note that Swiping affects self-esteem, causing “The ‘Why Can’t I Ever Finish Anything?’ self-accusation.” It also weakens family bonds, as parents find it “easier to retreat into a world of video games or social media” than interact with their children. Interestingly, they also posit that, partly due to Swiping, “our empathy seems to be atrophying,” as “tribalism encourages us to Swipe to what we know and who we trust.”

The book’s basic message is that we should be mindful about what we want to accomplish and how to accomplish it. Attention span matters. “When we Swipe continually, we have no hope of achieving mastery. We never really get good at anything…

Maylett and Vandehey spend more time arguing this incontestable point than necessary, and the book is highly repetitive. But their approach may be useful for those needing more focus in their lives—that is, almost all of us.

Readers will also find interesting studies that support the authors’ opinions and typical elements of the self-help genre: literary references (“The Road Not Taken”), numbered action items, and acronyms (MAGIC: “meaning”; “autonomy”; “growth”; “impact”; “connection”). All aid comprehension and retention.

At a time of technologically-driven distractedness and reevaluation of personal and professional ambitions for many, readers won’t want to Swipe away from Maylett and Vandehey’s book.

Also available in hardcover.

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