On dealing with time wasters
Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“Some activities make it more likely for you to lose balance and waste time. Brian Johnson describes them with a wonderful metaphor: ‘kryptonite’.“
“What is your kryptonite these day?“
“It’s of the digital kind: YouTube and Twitter.“
“What about them makes you lose balance?“
“In case of YouTube, the suggestions feature. It helps you discover new things, but it’s also distracting. I wish I could disable it, but unfortunately, it’s not possible.
In case of Twitter, the endless scrolling feature. Once I get going, it’s hard to disengage from it.“
“Why do you think endless scrolling is hard to disengage from?“
“It makes me enter a trance-like state. While in the state, especially when tired, I lose access to my metacognitive capacity.
Maybe it’s so engaging for the same reason slot machines are engaging: variable rewards – the intermittent reinforcement mechanism in operant conditioning. You never know when you’re going to stumble upon something interesting. And when you do, it feels like a promise of more.“
“What’s your strategy for dealing with them?“
“I marked them as red flags. A conceptual reminder to always set intention before engaging in them; to never engage in them without a clear exit strategy (eg I’m only doing x) – and a backup exit strategy (eg setting a timer).“