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We live in an age of distractions, dealing with constant mental stimulus (lostbookofsales.com)
406 points by iamsanteri on Feb 20, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 151 comments



It is interesting how manufactured distraction-free sessions like yoga, meditation, paid retreats, have emerged to fill the demand for idle time. We’re forgetting how to unplug unless it’s a product or service that we can buy.

The distraction issue is the number one issue holding back most of the young people in the mentorship group I’m part of. They’re so glued to their phones to check minute-by-minute updates about COVID death tolls, how big their stimulus checks are going to be, the value of their crypto portfolio, GameStop, and every other popular topic under the sun that they don’t have any attention left for their own lives.

Bitcoin is especially distracting right now, as they’re all nervously watching the real-time changes of their $1000 portfolios to see if they need to be sad about losing money because it’s crashing or sad about not investing more money because it’s going up.

These are all smart students. I always wonder how much more they could accomplish if they’d simply pick four hours each day to turn off their phones. That’s a tough sell, though.


> Bitcoin is especially distracting right now, as they’re all nervously watching the real-time changes of their $1000 portfolios to see if they need to be sad about losing money because it’s crashing or sad about not investing more money because it’s going up.

Great way to articulate this! This very experience is relatable although in my case with normal stocks, and something very interesting happened.

I sold some stocks for a modest profit, checked a few days later, and read that if I had just held a little longer then my profit would have been like double. It was very frustrating, and there was that negative emotional reaction. Then I realized I'd somehow misread the numbers, and in fact I would have had my initial investment cut in half. My frustration melted into relief and happiness. But more than that, it shocked me into realizing something very important: in the moment, my emotions seemed real, but were actually completely disconnected from reality. Further, the sense of "control" I thought I had was revealed to be a complete illusion.

After that, these "bets" (gambles) have completely stopped affecting me, and I haven't experienced FOMO since.

Hope more people have the same liberating realization!


I sold my $1000 in bitcoin as it was proving a distraction. I was constantly checking it's value. I also came to the conclusion I don't believe in bitcoin. I was just hoping to make money which doesn't resonate with my values. I am good for money. I am thinking of turning my attention to micro loans to get my mind off the topic of myself.

It took a long walk to break the bitcoin distraction and start to see sense. I think we should be wise about the technology we let into our heads. Especially when that technology is tied to money. I have 6 bank/share apps on my phone I check frequently. This may be my next area to tackle.


> I sold my $1000 in bitcoin as it was proving a distraction. I was constantly checking it's value.

One more reason to HODL. Buy some bitcoins, forget that they exist, check the situation 10 years later... either bitcoin doesn't exist anymore (more likely), or you are a millionaire (less likely, but the chances are better than in lottery).

My colleagues are watching bitcoin prices all the time... most of them don't even own any! I bought some, and they were like "hey, did you notice the price went up, are you happy?" or "hey, did you notice the price went down, are you sad?" every day. I told them "guys, please do not talk to me about bitcoins; I am going to check their price in 2030, and until then, I don't care".

I have an approximate idea of where the bitcoin is now, because seeing the headlines on HN, it is hard to avoid the information. But I don't know what happened yesterday, or during the last week. I could check the current price in 5 seconds... but I won't, because emotionally I just don't care. Instead I will submit this comment, and then try to forget that bitcoin exists.

(And this is not specific to bitcoins; I would do exactly the same thing with gold or stock market. Unless active trading is my job, which it is not, I do not need the daily numbers.)

I wonder why this is so emotionally easy for me, and many other people seemingly can't do it. It's not like I don't need money. I don't even feel particularly stoic. It is suspiciously similar to learned helplessness. Maybe I just focus my attention elsewhere... like writing comments on HN.


> My colleagues are watching bitcoin prices all the time... most of them don't even own any!

I love this comment. It shows how different people's brains are wired as you say. For me bitcoin is like the story of the princess and the pea. I know it's a tiny thing but I can't get it out of my head.

I have shares I live with quite easily. Shares seem as close to me as I can get to actually having a connection with a product. I think I struggle morally to persue money for moneys sake. That's not a judgement on bitcoin owners. I just know for me I don't give two hoots about bitcoin and that somehow is important to me. I don't do the lottery either as I decided some time ago not to dream of what may be. This is a quick way to lose a sense of gratefulness for what you have.

Anyway, from the over sensitive to the emotionless, good luck with your coin :-)


Stuff like that is exactly why I just invest in boring market-wife index funds.


Dude she might be boring to you.. but she is someone’s wife. Have some respect .. sheesh ..


I posted something recently here about a similar epiphany. We really do get to decide what we believe to be true, and we even get to decide how we respond to the truth. We can change how we feel about things over time. None of this is static.

What sent me down that rabbit hole in a big way was stoic philosophy. I’m not 100% on board with it, but when it comes to this it has literally changed my life. I now take an active role in how I perceive things and how I react to those perceptions, and I actually enjoy that exercise a lot.

So you lost some money. Can you still eat? Pay rent? Still have a job? Then it’s not a problem at all, is it?

Not long ago I would have gotten worked up too, and maybe I still would. Who knows. But there really isn’t any need for it.


Me too. I understand what you mean. I'll leave here a classic Stoic passage:

After being told (of his exile), “Your case is being tried in the Senate,” Agrippinus responded:

“Good luck betide! But it is the fifth hour now” (he was in the habit of taking his exercise and then a cold bath at that hour); “let us be off and take our exercise.”

After he had finished his exercise someone came and told him, “You have been condemned.”

“To exile,” says he, “or to death?”

To exile.

“What about my property?”

It has not been confiscated.

“Well then, let us go to Aricia and take our lunch there.”


Can you please detail how you would apply that technique on dealing with a break up


That's a hard one, and this is entirely how I would (based on my own perceptions in life) try to deal with a break up.

I don't think breaks ups are something you can fully mitigate the bad feelings of - relationships are about all that matter in life, whether with friends or lovers or family. So I wouldn't expect myself to feel better over night or repress feelings of sadness or loss, or beat myself up for giving in to bad feelings occasionally. You're human and you have feelings. The only thing you have any control over is how you evaluate and react to those feelings. The feelings don't define you, but your actions do.

Here are some key things I'd try to remind myself of though:

- Loss of relationships is guaranteed in life. Every day we should be cognizant of that. The people we love are going to be gone one day, by choice or otherwise. If we can reasonably expect to lose everyone, including ourselves, we should learn to be grateful for the time we have and avoid taking away from that by dwelling on what we can't control. We can aim to extend relationships by keeping up our health and investing in meaningful relations, but beyond that, what we have is fortune while what we lose is often inescapable. You may have many breakups in your life. More interestingly though, you may have many loves. That's much better to focus on. How do you get there, instead of dwelling on what was lost?

- Love fluctuates dramatically, even in most successful relationships. Even if no one was at fault (you did nothing wrong, the person you broke up with did nothing wrong), it's entirely natural for people to change over time. This is a good thing, even if it feels bad at times. If your relationship didn't have what it took to endure then put your energy into figuring out why and what could be done to make the next one more resilient. Good relationships require a lot of honesty and growth, and this is a great opportunity to practice honesty with yourself and use what you learn to develop your understanding of yourself and your relationships.

- What you've lost is, generally speaking, likely to come back. If love tends to be transient in our lives, especially for the earlier portion of our lives, we should regard individual relationships specially (because relationships really are special) but avoid trapping ourselves with the notion that a single relationships is integral to our being. These relationships will come and go. We can build strong and meaningful relations with countless people, even outside of romantic relationships. Hold all relationships highly, but don't let one rule over you. It was never going to last forever, right?

- On that note, the best relationships in life can't easily be "broken up", so to speak. They don't need an element of romance to be fulfilling or rewarding. Maybe this can be a reminder to seek out or focus on friendships which have endured and continue to deserve attention and energy. True friendship is exceedingly rare in many peoples lives and worth all the energy you put into it.

- Finally, something I try to remind myself often is to be at ease with being alone. I have a family but there was a long time when I didn't, and the best thing I practised was to be happy with being alone. Of course there are times when you simply won't like being alone - you want to be around someone, you want intimacy, you want to be loved or to love someone. That's fine. The key is to allow those feelings to occur and pass through as you refocus and realign your attention to the things you can control and improve. Take action on those things and benefit from enriching your life so future you can bounce back from this stumble.

This is exactly what you need to do in order to recover what you lost in the first place.

Some key things I found helpful were:

- Asking myself why I was lonely. What was it in my mind telling me I needed to be with someone? Was it something meaningful, or something egotistical? Was it boredom? Was it curable through spending time with friends instead of seeking a partner? Over time I've found the feeling varies, the cause varies, and it's important to pin-point it.

- Focusing on what's important in my life. There are a lot of rewarding things in life beyond a romantic relationship. Many of these things are immediately accessible. For me it's woodworking, playing guitar, or free diving. And of course friends as mentioned. This is made a lot tougher due to the pandemic of course, but you almost certainly have things in your life that are rewarding and deserving of your attention.

- Making sure I take care of myself and don't allow feeling bad about a lost relationship (or anything else) to turn into a downward spiral. Continue exercising, continue reading, talking to friends and family - once you allow negative thoughts and feelings to affect your routine and self care, you risk compounding negativity until you no longer act rationally and are overwhelmed by inadvertent self-loathing. These bad feelings can become you, and nipping that at the bud is genuinely very important.

Anyway, I'm rambling - I hope you're okay and that some of this resonates to some degree. These things are extremely personal and everyone will handle it slightly differently. What's useful to one person is useless to another. Regardless, if you're feeling down, hang in there and remember that this too will pass.


Thank you, I really appreciate this.


It's also compounded because our Peer groups are doing it too so there's that additional FOMO.

I get the same feelings as you do (we all do). I read that if the price goes up, we get an elated feeling but it's minor. But when we lose money, that negative feeling is twice as strong.


People seem to have a strange way of 'investing'. For me, it falls into 2 categories:

1) Long term investements which I almost never look at. Regular scheduled deposits going into an index fund.

2) Bets. Fun little side gambles which I always do for one purpose - aquiring something in the real world. Example: I want a new M1 macbook, but rather than drop $1k, I gamble $3k bitcoin. If it makes enough profit for the macbook, I sell immediately, and buy. If it drops, I just hang onto it until it goes up. But ultimately, this category of investment is never anything other than a bet, which I am OK losing. And, it's always a means to and end. I have a product in mind, and I justify gambling some money (which is fun) as a means to acquiring said product.


> which I am OK losing.

This is the most important concept of investing. You should never place an amount you wouldn’t be ok losing. If losing every cent of an investment could cause financial ruin, you’re investing too much.


I would agree with you if you replaced every "investing" word with "speculating" or "gambling". Otherwise what else am I suppose to do with my money but invest it? Leave it in the bank so they can profit off of it? There are entire categories of equity with variable degrees of risk, and a lot of them won't make me "lose every cent" in any situation but the end of the world.


You are erroneously conflating investing with gambling. Astute investing in index funds is essentially risk-free if your retirement is far enough away. As you get closer to retirement, you should start moving from funds to bonds (or cash if you want to be extra safe), so you are protected in the case of a crash.

I am not OK with losing the money I have invested, but it is so unlikely that I do not need to worry about it.

A situation where the global stock market crashes, and never recovers, is basically an apocalypse. That is not worth planning for.


You can not not invest „money“. If you let the „money“ exists in Fiat money form your money is invested in this exact fiat money.

This is all a big gamble with different risks. But generally: if you have “money” you have a risk to lose it.

I use here ““Money”” as a synonym for buying power, or value that can be exchanged. So it is not like Money because it dose not describe the meta value and is part of the big gamble ;)


But there is a risk in not taking risk too. If you had taken this advice over the last ten years (my grandmother did, for instance) you’d have missed the greatest decade in stocks and property for many years, and are much poorer because of it.


I had an economics teacher who very interesting and he taught us exactly this. He also actually owned a shop, so every economic theory he could explain with a real world example.


There's also the fact that the more often you look at your portfolio, the less likely you are to see it go up (assuming typical returns and volatility). Something like ~51% if you look at it every hour vs ~70% if you look every month. Taleb uses that example in Fooled by Randomness.


Yes! I had this same realization recently, which led me to write about it because it was so striking. It's scary how quickly we can becomes engrossed in our perception as opposed to reality. https://suketk.com/thought-space-vs-reality


Trading is a soulless activity but the psychological, social and superstitious aspect of it are quite interesting. It taps deep into the fear/hope/chaos part of our brains.

Everybody is angry to see $crypto reaching 300% but when it dips back half, nobody wants it anymore, until it grows again. Trading flips our natural reflexes upside down.

The guru/superstition aspect is also something rare.. the actual knowledge of traders is really thin, but it can sound sophisticated if not advanced for the average crowd. Paired with the fact that all that is said comes with a "work 70% of the time" there's always enough room to justify errors and failures and still look like a guru to your crowd of wannabee-rich.

That said it's also a good tool to learn about calculated risk, adventurous and also balance (many start glue to their screens but with time you know how to not overspend your time like this).


Your story reminds me of the Indian allegory of the man who mistakes a rope for a snake.


Mind sharing that one?


I think he meant this one. Grerk also had something similar but can't locate the reference.

https://oxford.universitypressscholarship.com//mobile/view/1...


I like how this story is told in Buddhist contexts:

http://www.1netcentral.com/articles/the-snake-rope-essential...


Very nice, do you know where to read about maya ? (fun fact Alias Maya was one of my favorite software ever, yet it's the first time I get interested in the philosophical concept behind the name thanks to you)


Notice how your mood changed by just thinking differently. This can be done with anything. Its not the event(e) that makes us feel, its the callback(us).


Yeah one can go full panic attack over the wrong interpretation. This alleged reality vanishes as fast as it came, although the potential mistakes it triggered can last long.


If you set a small algo to buy $50 every day when you see down days you feel happy because you get a discount.

Your time horizon is set at 10 years so any gains or loss is just a paper loss.

If you need to check just do it once per day to get a idea if the market. But not in the morning because if your port is big enough it might affect your day. Try for lunch time to not affect your sleep.

Good luck!


I am going to make a counter point, albeit one that I don't like:

Advising kids to lean away from modern life and push back on the progress of distracting technologies will actually be a more anti-social move than not.

What I mean is that to exist and live in the modern world increasingly requires adept skills at managing bespoke technological platforms. To be a social being in the 21st century is largely about navigating these platforms and being 'plugged in'. Disconnect, and you'll miss out on the flow of humanity.

I mention I don't like this because frankly, I miss the idea of small towns with supportive communities that had inherent dependencies on each other. The baker, the butcher, the doctor, the pastor, etc, everyone had a feeling of purpose and a connectivity to their community. Of course this ideological view of society is long gone so there's just no sense trying to push back. Accept that today's child is a highly connected, distracted, techno-proficient being and let that be that.


> Advising kids to lean away from modern life and push back on the progress of distracting technologies will actually be a more anti-social move than not.

It's not about telling kids to unplug completely.

It's about balance.

There are so many endless digital distractions available today that people need to know how and where to draw the line on their consumption. Or they don't recognize that the short-term value they derive from scrolling Twitter or making a $100 gain on their Robinhood app comes at the expense of setting back their desired career goals, or personal fitness goals, or even their social goals.

It's exhausting to listen to mentees complain that they don't have enough time in the day to work out, or read a book they want to read, or cook the healthy meals they want to eat, but then they go on to discuss things like Bitcoin and Dogecoin for 4 hours straight in Slack or recruit their friends into another Twitter argument.

> Accept that today's child is a highly connected, distracted, techno-proficient being and let that be that.

Part of our role as mentors and/or parents is to guide young people in healthier directions.

There's nothing wrong with being connected and techno-proficient, and there's nothing wrong with having some fun on Twitter or Tik Tok. However, that doesn't mean we should go full laissez-faire and tell young people there's nothing wrong with being distracted all day every day.

There are a lot of parallels to diet: There's nothing wrong with eating donuts or cookies or bacon in moderation. However, if you overindulge in sweets, eat 3000 calories a day, and never moderate your intake of anything you're going to accumulate major health problems over the course of your life.


> It's exhausting to listen to mentees complain that they don't have enough time in the day to work out, or read a book they want to read, or cook the healthy meals they want to eat, but then they go on to discuss things like Bitcoin and Dogecoin for 4 hours straight in Slack or recruit their friends into another Twitter argument.

It's practically never about time, but rather about energy. People need some downtime from work and chores and "improving themselves", and BS arguments on Slack or Twitter is a way to unwind for some.


The food analogy is really good.

Like food, hyper-distraction affects different people differently, I've watched really bad habits affect real peoples lives in bad ways, and many people who grow up in a culture where that's normal may never break those habits.

Also like food, I'm spending way more time in front of screens in order to cope with the pandemic. Is it okay? Eh, not really, but I think it's okay to accept the necessity of overindulgence given the circumstances.


> it's okay to accept the necessity of overindulgence given the circumstances

Yes and no. To be honest I am not very happy with all the articles/folks advocating that people should en masse self-medicate during covid with gaming/hours on internet. Its like unless you sit in front of computer/phone there is literally nothing to do at home, just slowly go crazy. I wish governments did recognize this since early pandemics and actually encouraged people to do individual sports outdoors, not effectively banning like in France. That's much better way to keep one fit mentally, and as a bonus physically too which helps not only with covid.

The reason for my opinion is this behavior creates patterns that will be very hard to shed off for many people, once things go +-back to as they were (although I don't think we ever get there 100%). Unfortunately, humans are creatures of habits and wired to create many dependencies, ie on substances, but also activities that produce dopamine rush.

I hope I am wrong in this. Maybe it won't be as bad and the same people would end up with these 'addictions' regardless of covid, maybe a bit less pronounced.


Yeah, I've thought about that, but at least for the people I know personally, they're all bored to death with these stopgap habits and the second it's safe to hang them up and go back to parties, music, and weddings, it's going to be a second roaring 20's.

(But agreed on the "don't take a walk" style lockdowns. And I'm honestly surprised the backlash to them isn't stronger.)


> will actually be a more anti-social move than not.

Anti-social is the whole point. Because, precisely, society has been hijacked by consumerism.

It's nothing new, it started with the industrial revolution. Now that (almost) everyone has a fridge, a TV, a car, a washing-machine, a computer, a phone, attention is being siphoned in order to generate revenue.

> Of course this ideological view of society is long gone so there's just no sense trying to push back. Accept that today's child is a highly connected, distracted, techno-proficient being and let that be that.

I think "attention economy" should be treated as a threat and, on the contrary, mercilessly fought against (with education, and not just kids). Because it damage people's mind just like the industry damaged the environment. Don't make the same mistake twice.


> Of course this ideological view of society is long gone so there's just no sense trying to push back

It's only gone in ultra dense cities, as soon as we leave our techno bubbles the old world comes back real fast.

> Accept that today's child is a highly connected, distracted, techno-proficient being and let that be that.

I don't think you have to be that fatalist to be honest. When I see two years old kids already holding phones in their stroller, while the mom/dad is pushing the stroller with one hand and looking at the phone they hold in their other hand I feel like we went too far.

You can teach kid to use tech as a tool to navigate the world, but the vast majority of gadgets and services are pure distraction that are designed to trigger addiction mechanisms and milk your attention/time/money. I'd rather teach my kids how to become a master of google maps or how to use an app that let you navigate the night sky and its stars/galaxies than put them on fortnite and tiktok, I don't think these things exist on the same plane. I don't think people fully grasp how important the first decade of a child's brain formation is.

Self reported loneliness and teenager suicides have never been so high so I kinda cringe when I hear people saying restricting kids access to internet/tech will make them more disconnected and anti-social. A very large part of internet interactions are shallow and fabricated, they can't replace real world relationships in any way, shape or form.

I agree in some capacity that cutting out all these things would be very hard and probably damaging in some way, but embracing them completely without any restrictions is, imho, much worse


>To be a social being in the 21st century is largely about navigating these platforms

No, you aren't navigating the platforms, the platforms are configuring you so to speak as to work as just another input/output or relay, which is obvious in the language you're using here: 'connectivy'. (that's how we talk about switches and routers). As Baudrillard pointed out in his piece 'The Ecstasy of Communication', being a sort of input at some terminal and endless exchange of meaningless symbols isn't socialisation, it's the opposite. It's the destruction of the social through mass communication. It's like some sort of morbid dance that has no actual meaning at all, people mechanically switching tinder results back and forth to optimise an algorithm that makes that process easier in an endless feedback loop.


I wager the sexual success of most young men does not hinge on their social media read/write frequency.


I wouldn’t be sure — being off social media is seen as a red flag these days among young people, esp on dating sites, where linking your Instagram / Snapchat in your profile is considered par for the course. This is obviously satire but there is truth to it too: https://youtu.be/GEWnXmDfVZg


You haven’t been paying attention. Look into “thirst traps”.


And what's there?


What if, hypothetically speaking, we knew that this is a sickness on the species-scale? Would you still say accept — and thus - succumb to it? I am not unconvinced that we have let these platforms go too far with our kids and minds; to the point where they have become cancers in our societies.


>Of course this ideological view of society is long gone so there's just no sense trying to push back.

I mean, the amish and mormons exist, and their birth rate is quite healthy.


> It is interesting how manufactured distraction-free sessions like yoga, meditation, paid retreats, have emerged to fill the demand for idle time. We’re forgetting how to unplug unless it’s a product or service that we can buy.

I meditate every day and it's cost me nothing, uses nothing, does not require going anywhere, literally brushing my teeth is more of a commercial activity than meditation is.

Meditation is exactly what your students could use most effectively to learn to manage distracted minds, so given you are in a position of mentorship it's kind of sad you seem to think the basic act of sitting and doing exactly nothing but observing how it feels is some kind of corporate fad that should be avoided.


I think what was meant here are the countless (monetarized) apps and courses which gamify the meditation experience of course. You are totally right that the original intention of meditation is quite the opposite. No app, gadget or anything else required.

Edit: Grammar


Agreed, but I would need to vouch for the Waking Up app for my own meditation. It was training wheels before venturing off on my own -- don't think anything is wrong with that!


> countless (monetarized) apps and courses which gamify the meditation experience

What do these apps do? Ive been giving meditation a shot recently. (Because i have similar thoughts about my distractions) So im aware of them, ive been mediating just by setting the timer on my phone and finding some quiet time and then well mediate. Mediate as i understand it is just sitting still and being present and aware of your mind wandering then bringing it back to being present.

What am I missing?


The main advantage of an app is guided meditation. If you only want to sit quietly, or you're already trained in meditation, or you've read some books on practice, then the apps may not provide an advantage to you.


It's kinda like having a meditation teacher, but in an app. Totally not necessary, but I like it :D


The blank page is unpopular these days. People have lost the ability to be creative, as in “create from scratch.” Everything must be appified and scheduled, offered with multiple preplanned choices and not with anything open-ended. This is easy to see with an example like kids toys or Legos: most of their new (and lucrative, I imagine) products are branded franchise ones, which is a far cry from the freeform building blocks of just a few decades ago.


> Everything must be appified and scheduled

You see it very often on HN with all the articles about tweaking your productivity, scheduling everything, writing what you're doing every 15 minutes in a logbook as to not lose a single second of your life to "unproductivity", &c.

We're applying machine concepts to human life as if all that mattered was how much "things" you can produce and how much other things it allows you to consume


I enjoy to read/watch about productivity apps and new tech, but it seems to me that all this "optimization" doesn't have any strong effect on output. It's not negative, you can do it if that brings you joy, but don't expect it to increase your output.

One of my last year's most productive days, I was stuck in a small hotel room on a business trip for a entire day, with a 13-inch laptop on shit wifi. In just a few hours I wrote one of the most useful document for my job in the last couple of years. I guess I had nothing else to do, and had no distractions.

Both at my office and home, I have all kinds of ergonomic setup, great connection, comfortable drinks, whatever. And I work ok there most of the time, but I got more focused and productive stuck in a hotel on a small laptop and a wooden chair…

Recently this video [1] got my the same impression. A dozen content producers in the "productivity" niche show their workplace. Obviously there are some high-tech desks full of expensive latest tech, but also some simple laptops and a wooden chair. In the end it doesn't matter, they're all producing good output regardless of their productivity setup.

So it looks more like a hobby than an actual link to being productive. It's really not about the apps or setup.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cs7TCNDQy1E


I am personally finding myself getting caught in exactly these kinds of traps much more often since COVID showed up and all of the opportunity for in person social interaction dried up.

Stillness has become difficult and while the digital interactions haven been an imperfect substitute, they’re better than nothing and it’s even more challenging to engage in good digital habits when you’re leaning on these networks for such basic needs.

It’s been a challenge.


It's called being young. They're emotional and inexperienced.

50 years ago this used to be normal. Now for some reason everybody expects perfection out of everybody at all times.

Insanity.


Very good point. I'm 30, check reddit/instagram/FB more than I ever did in college, yet I'm more more disciplined during my work and study than I was in college.


50 years ago it was different. You could work some grocery job and still be okay. Nowadays working minimum wage means being left behind and poverty. Given how competitive world has become it's only natural that it came to that.

50 years ago you would compete with your surroundings, now you compete with the whole city, country or even world in some cases. And this applies to everything: work, relationships, sex life, etc.


One (hopelessly futile) tactic may be focusing on the ROI of various reading material. Internet comments take ~5 minutes to write, 30s to read (6x ROI). Blog posts are ~4 hours to write, 10m to read (24x). Magazine articles are ~3 months to write, 30m to read (960x). Books are ~5 years to write, 8h to read (1300x). Obviously, reading books is one of the best sources of reading. But it also works with video and audio material. Movies are better than YT vlogs which are better than ticktocks. Albums are better than singles which are better than soundcloud covers. I know that teenagers are never going to listen to this advice (I sure wouldn't have), but there is that fleeting chance!

(Also, the ROI stuff is a rough guide, read/view/listen to whatever you'd like, I'm not your dad!)


This is honestly one of the reasons I stopped investing in my twenties. I cashed out everything and put it all towards paying down debt because I was absolutely obsessed with the stock market...but after doing the math the guaranteed returns on debt payment were a better focus than the up and down nature of the stock market.

I invest now but I have to be conscious of obsession mitigation techniques otherwise I will constantly be watching fluctuations and wondering if I need to sell, buy something else, etc. Instead I buy big boring companies that pay a dividend...and never sell. Just watch for whatever looks like the best deal at the time when I have new money to invest.


I think it's more important than ever to clarify the difference between long-term investing and short-term speculation with young people.

Many young people are entering the market with an expectation that cryptocurrency prices only go up and that they can outperform Wall Street by getting hot tips (DD) from meme-infused posts on Reddit.

When it doesn't work out, they swear off "investing" when they never actually did anything beyond speculation and daytrading.

I hope apps like Robinhood find a good way to encourage portfolio balance, dollar cost averaging, and risk management over time.


I had/have the same problem. I now invest in companies that are big in sustainability. Saying to myself that even if the earnings fall flat, at least I can look in the mirror and live with it.


There is a lot of talk about investments / trading on this thread so I thought I'd drop some of my thoughts and experiences here.

1) You can be right and still lose significant amounts of money. I've lost many thousands myself on something that I was eventually right about, timing is key - and it doesn't do to dwell on any decision - whether because you lost or could have made more. Sure, if I'd just invested my pocket money in bitcoin when I first mined it in 2012 I'd be retired already - but I didn't - shit happens.

2) If you are attaching emotion to your positions you're doing it wrong. This is a huge point, not one I've personally mastered - which is why I don't play with stocks anymore.

3) The whole cycle of emotions surrounding markets is explained brilliantly by George Soros in 'The Alchemy of Finance'. This is an excellent read. It's interesting and illuminating that Soros was a student of Philosophy and not strictly mathematics or business.

In my own experience there are two layers to markets - what actually is and what people think is or will be; usually the latter is much more powerful in terms of short term positions. One of Soros's points is that the two interact and influence the other eventually.


Curious about your mentoring program. How does it work? I always feel that who am I to really provide advice?

I was recently asked to attend a virtual mentoring session and I didn't due to scheduling conflicts but I had no idea what to say had I attended. I was going to kick it off if they had any questions about anything and then move into my career over the years. I didn't want to share too much because I feel it would be bragging.


Not the OP, but my advice is to tailor your advice / sharing of experiences to what your mentee(s) need. Always start by listening before sharing your experiences, and for each experience, distill the key learning so you can help your mentee see how they can apply it to their situation.


You could start smaller. Set aside 15 minutes to think about life. Once they see the benefits, selling them on longer stretches might be easier.


> I always wonder how much more they could accomplish if they’d simply pick four hours each day to turn off their phones.

I think most of them sincerely wouldn’t know what to do in those 4 hours. Working on their laptops? I guess I wonder: How can people “accomplish things” nowadays without being on a device?


I think the question should rather be: How can people accomplish things today by using devices that are connected to the internet?

Having internet access increases the potential for distraction by a lot. Some websites are specifically designed to be addictive. The easiest way to deal with this is to block them on your device during certain times of the day.


Seems like there's an app opportunity here! Free time as a service. "Choose how many hours in a day you would like to be free and we will automatically block your calendar, cancel meeting invites, setup an email auto-responder and disable access to the internet" /s


It's good that you explicitly made the /s. Otherwise you surely would've fallen victim of Poe's law.


> We’re forgetting how to unplug unless it’s a product or service that we can buy.

For me I never want to unplug because it brings me all the stress from things I have going on (and not going on) in life. This continuous online state has allowed me to putoff major life decisions.


> they’re all nervously watching the real-time changes of their $1000 portfolios to see if they need to be sad about losing money because it’s crashing or sad about not investing more money because it’s going up.

I'd say those students are learning a lot.

A few could make a profit or loss that is life-changing to them (this might also be a surprisingly small amount of money), and they are also presumably learning how to assess their risk profile in reality (as user warent describes in their comment) and be less likely to squander a much larger portfolio later.


In this case, these are mostly software engineering students. They stand to gain more from their first signing bonus or even first paycheck than what they'd see from 10Xing most of their investments.

From a mentor perspective, it's exhausting to hear students complain that they don't have any time to study or schedule interviews, then watch them spend 4 hours talking in the group Slack about their Dogecoin speculation theories.


> It is interesting how manufactured distraction-free sessions like yoga, meditation, paid retreats, have emerged to fill the demand for idle time. We’re forgetting how to unplug unless it’s a product or service that we can buy.

This is the most interesting part to me, people managed to monetize these things. After vacations, entertainment, now they monetize idleness, I really don't know what to think of it. The funny thing is that they're really two sides of the same coin, they both compete for your time and money


Exercise is shoes and a trip out the door away.

It's really reflective of a (hopefully) near-endgame of marketing: turning over the last stones available. Well, I don't really believe that.

Again, a failure of economics. EVERYTHING shouldn't be monetized, that is truly a path to dystopia, where you pay for the air you breathe.


It might be a shallow conclusion but the level of absurdity of 2000s life is getting to me. Everything good that was free is now ~offered as paid services to compensate for all the subtle toxicity of the average mainstream life.

I just came back from a very free (for now) walk in the woods.


> It is interesting how manufactured distraction-free sessions like yoga, meditation, paid retreats, have emerged to fill the demand for idle time. We’re forgetting how to unplug unless it’s a product or service that we can buy.

I never thought of it this way, very interesting. But it's not surprising. There's obviously a demand for these types of products.


This, and undiagnosed and untreated ADHD. By the way, for anyone struggling with ADD, check out a book called" by Johhn Ratey the way. It's GREAT. He also wrote Spark, which I think everyone should read.


> a book called" by Johhn Ratey

I think you may have accidentally omitted some words.


Sorry about that, the book is called "ADHD 2.0" by John Ratey :) Small typo.


Thanks!


One of the symptoms of ADHD, btw, lol.


Small typo, no need to be a douche.


Sorry to say this, but HN is a problem as well.

I’m looking for that 1% of the posts that interest me, and when I find them it’s fantastic, since it’s info I would not be able to find anywhere else. But going through the other 99% is a waste of time.

These two combined have a harmful effect on me. I don’t know if there’s a name for it, but it’s the same as the one causing addiction in gambling/bets/games. Gathering energy/motivation to do something productive instead takes effort.

Just a few days ago I was thinking of adding a dns block for it. But that 1% of the links is sweet...


> Just a few days ago I was thinking of adding a dns block for it.

In your profile you’ll find noprocrast, maxvisit, and minaway, which you can use to limit your time on the site.

> But that 1% of the links is sweet

You can use RSS feeds to be notified of stories with over N points[1] (or another rule), lessening the desire to look at everything.

[1]: https://hnrss.github.io/#activity-parameters


> You can use RSS feeds to be notified of stories with over N points[1] (or another rule), lessening the desire to look at everything.

Thank you for this tip! HN is one of the only websites I don’t consume via RSS. I had no idea I could customize parameters and do this.

Unfortunately, I’ll still be loading the site to find the rare links that are of high interest to but that get a low number of hits. But this will definitely help me optimize my interaction with the site. Again, thank you.


I had no idea about this. Thanks, I will try it out.


Also check out this feed of the top 10 HN stories daily: https://www.daemonology.net/hn-daily/ I find it cuts out a lot of the noise


The name for this is ‘variable reward’, and yes it is the root of gambling addiction as well.


> I’m looking for that 1% of the posts that interest me, and when I find them it’s fantastic, since it’s info I would not be able to find anywhere else. But going through the other 99% is a waste of time.

Would this really help with HN addiction? I imagine it might exacerbate it since everything you see is so much more engaging (by definition), and probably count(posts that interest you) >>> count(posts that you've read).


An alternative is to stop visiting the site and sign up for Hacker Newsletter instead: https://hackernewsletter.com/


This has helped me cut down on the time I read HN: https://hckrnews.com/


Good link, thanks. But I don't find the points/comments reliable indicators of things I want to read. For example, I only read one out of the Top 10 today.


I wonder if we see a rise in ADHD in kids nowadays because it is an increasingly useful adaptation to our environment.

"Hyperfocus is the experience of deep and intense concentration in some people with ADHD. ADHD is not necessarily a deficit of attention, but rather a problem with regulating one’s attention span to desired tasks."

I don't know, but "hyperfocus" on a hobby you love sounds exactly like what most people need nowadays to get off their phone and stop wasting their life staring on ads and ad-financed content. Also, I remember that most things we covered in school were completely irrelevant for the real world. So a difficulty to concentrate on school stuff may actually be better than doing the homework.

In short, ignoring what society considers normal and instead being super focused on your own things ... sounds more healthy to me than the average "normal" person.


I wonder what the officially diagnosed number for adhd is and it it is rising over the decades; literally all my kids of my friends and acquaintances 'have adhd'. Most are not diagnosed by a medical professional but self diagnosed. A lot of people I talk with (people over 35-40) have self diagnosed themselves as having adhd to explain their issues in life.

Did the actual number increase? Did the definition broaden? Why does it seem like a plague now?


Also I have literally never met anyone in my life telling me 'I have ADHD'. However on the internet it seems that everyone has it. My pet theory is that it is a very American thing, not that people feel more free to talk about it on the internet.


I've got ADD, which is a close sibling of ADHD. I know better than to tell people IRL I've got it. Experience has shown me that the moment you do you're reduced to that singular attribute. Suddenly everything you do is explained by the ADD. It's infuriating, and easily avoided by simply not telling people.


I don't even know how you would notice if you had ADD while working construction or some other manual labour job. While performing office work makes everyone feel like they have ADD if they aren't performing as they expect themselves too.


> I wonder if we see a rise in ADHD in kids nowadays because it is an increasingly useful adaptation to our environment.

We like to think of focus and attention span as innate abilities encoded by our genes, but the truth is that genetics are only a part of the story. Focus and attention are learned skills that can be trained and developed over time.

Likewise, focus and attention can be diminished over time through constant cycles of rewarding ones' self with quick distractions. If instead of studying on a difficult topic, a person scrolls Twitter for an endless stream of quick context shifts and semi-rewarding posts, they're training their brain to associate Twitter with reward and studying with pain. It takes conscious effort to suppress the desire for short-term reward and focus on long-term reward that comes at a cost of additional up front work.

The rise in ADHD diagnoses is partially due to ever-expanding criteria for ADHD. Decades ago, ADHD diagnoses were mostly limited to severe cases that were refractory to therapy interventions. These days, drug companies push ADHD quizzes on the internet that make common everyday struggles feel like ADHD. Take a look at Takeda Pharmaceutical's Adult ADHD site: https://www.adhdadulthood.com/adhd-test With testimonials such as "I had to write everything down to maintain organization and memory" you'd think that non-ADHD people never had to write anything down to stay organized.

> I don't know, but "hyperfocus" on a hobby you love sounds exactly like what most people need nowadays to get off their phone and stop wasting their life staring on ads and ad-financed content.

The idea of "hyperfocus" is that the person loses focus on the wrong things. For example, if someone "hyperfocuses" on video games instead of doing their homework. It's a failure of time management and prioritization rather than a special ability to accomplish things.

The idea of hyperfocus as a symptom of ADHD is a new phenomenon, and it's more prominent in pop culture than actual ADHD research. Just look at the only 6 hits for hyperfocus AND adhd in pubmed: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=%22hyperfocus%22+AND+%... 5 of the 6 papers are from the last 4 years and most aren't from top quality journals. Before that, hyperfocus was only listed as an adverse effect of taking too high of a dose of an ADHD medication.

> So a difficulty to concentrate on school stuff may actually be better than doing the homework.

It's a mistake to think that children's schoolwork is only about learning how to do fractions or write cursive or just the core material. The kids are learning how to learn, learning how to focus, learning how to manage their time, learning how to follow through on tasks, and many other very valuable learned skills in the process.

On HN we like to talk about the hypothetical genius child who would be studying engineering in their spare time if they didn't have to do a couple hours of homework at night, but in reality the vast majority of children are not worse off by doing schoolwork. It's training and learning how to function in the world. It's not perfect, but kids definitely do learn life skills from it.

> In short, ignoring what society considers normal and instead being super focused on your own things ... sounds more healthy to me than the average "normal" person.

The reality is that most people aren't forced to choose between being "normal" and being successful in their area of expertise. It has never been easier for someone to access information about their chosen topic online, but you only need to look at the traffic stats of major social media sites to see what people are actually choosing to do with their free time. It's also important to accept that good ideas don't always stand out on their own. Knowing how the world works and how to be "normal" is a critically important skill for working with others, getting your ideas out there, communicating, and so on.

Obviously I'd never discourage anyone from pursuing study in their chosen field, but in my experience the people who didn't grow up in environments with strong structure, frameworks, and feedback loops from their educators and parents is often ill-equipped to follow their academic desires when they arrive at college or the business world.

There are always exceptions, of course. However it's more common to hear kids complain that their early academic years were "not challenging enough" rather than too difficult, leaving them ill-prepared for reality when they finally encounter something challenging enough that they can't coast through it.


> Obviously I'd never discourage anyone from pursuing study in their chosen field, but in my experience the people who didn't grow up in environments with strong structure, frameworks, and feedback loops from their educators and parents is often ill-equipped to follow their academic desires when they arrive at college or the business world.

Eloquently summarizes my situation precisely.


What makes you think this is a useful adaptation and not an exploit of our system?


Glad I found this useful post while refreshing HN for some mental stimulus.

A book I found silly when I read it was Future shock. It said that change and information would be so rapid in the future that people would be in permanent state of shock. Seemed like a ridiculous notion at the time but not anymore.

22 year old me read about the Jewish tradition of Sabbath day and found it so silly. A day where you’re not supposed to use any technology or do any productive work ? How silly !

I totally get it now. They were onto something. We’ve now reinvented it as “digital detox” and “dopamine fasting”.

Got my hit by writing this comment now off to the the next post I go.


I fed your addiction by giving you an upvote. I hope you enjoy that number next to your username, representing Karma go up. You should try to get the high score.


I think future shock is something for the non-young period. If you are young you don't have a set of norms embedded and are adapting to the new. Phenomenally messed up things like domestic violence can be assumed normal because that is their baseline. This is because of a lack of a strong baseline trained in to have dissonance towards.


I've spent the last year or so trying to control my smartphone usage, by removing apps and trying to set rules for myself like "your phone stays in the kitchen for most of the day". I recently took the plunge and got rid of it entirely, and it was truly surprising to realise how much of my time and attention it had still taken, despite my best efforts.

If you think you're ready for that step, I highly recommend it. Just as mindless browsing, refreshing, and scrolling is self-perpetuating, so is the obverse. Once you start removing apps and accounts, and habits are broken, you will start asking yourself "Why am I on my (phone/computer/laptop)? What else could I be doing?"


I've considered doing this, but it's not possible for two reasons: all my banking apps require using a smartphone. And second, I'm a web developer and need to test sites on a phone daily.

There's also one killer app I don't want to stop using: maps (Google, Apple, Open Street Map, doesn't matter which).

However, I have switched to NextDNS and locked out a large chunk of the internet on the phone. That helps.


Maps are definitely the one thing that still keeps me owning a smartphone. The navigation is just super convenient.

That said, before smartphones, I managed to find my way to where I needed to be, using paper maps and written directions. It's not that hard.


if you're on android, there's an app you might like called "target home launcher" that will let you set your map app as the home screen. i have mine set to open metro so it feels more a like an mp3 player first that's also able to do other things if needed

you could then use something like zone launcher and only add one or two important apps to it, or use swiftly switch instead and set it up so you have to search for an app, basically making it harder to casually wander onto some social media app like you would if you had them all showing on your homescreen


Similarly, everytime I decide to relegate my phone to another room, I am better off for it.

The problem is that, one week or another, it eventually liberates itself and somehow makes its way back into my day-to-day.

One day, I hope to solve this.


Will it even be possible for many people to give up smartphones in favour of a dumbphone any more?

Thanks to COVID, you may have to own an Apple or Android smartphone to do certain things. Several countries have announced that their vaccination certificate will exist mainly in digital form, with one official app that generates limited-time QR codes. For instance, I can’t find any information on what Israelis without a smartphone are supposed to do at restaurants etc., since the news is reporting that the QR code will be mandatory to enter such places.

Nearly all people entering Poland must now quarantine, and after you hand over your details at the border, the police send you an SMS saying “Installing our quarantine app from the Google Play store or Apple’s store is legally required”.

Then you already had the problem of some banks no longer offering code cards or SMS verification, and requiring you to use their app for 2FA for online banking.


Fortunately, I live in a country where I think there is less chance of such things happening. However - is mandated smartphone ownership the future we want? It goes without saying that almost all government over-reach is done "for your own good".


what about an old smartphone then? one that can do all that stuff but one that is slow and has a small screen so it would be really annoying to use for any length of time?


I haven't gone as far as that, but have deleted anything on my phone that provides "infinite content". Twitter, the reddit app (still use logged out in browser so I get the ~20 top posts for a couple specific subreddits), things like that.

I notice the same phenomena- I haven't restricted any behavior on my computer, but notice I am spending a lot less time on it


thats why i use feature phone..


I love how you summarize the dilemma of a digital native. May I add some juicy polarization by referencing the quote "I don't know how to live, but I got a lot of toys" from the song 21st Century Digital Boy? Your article gives great reason to rethink. How to use the time we have been given in a meaningful way, to be labelled as a sentient being rather than a robot. It is definitely a daily test to one's choice: Rather to be a creator than consumer. Creating things is usually a sequential process, without a secret passage, lots of effort, making own (in-)abilities public and taking real risks - consumption can be found the exact opposite. So it's a path that needs decent courage. In the end it makes life brighter - and as you point out: it doesn't matter if you write about thoughts, read a book in length or build a trustful relationship with a person you love. It will be a lasting and enriching experience.


I've been reading technical books for so long, hunting for information and with my shortened attention span, I now have difficulty reading for the sheer pleasure of it. I tried reading fiction not too long ago and found it laborious. It was the most disappointing feeling in the world to me.


This is interesting, and I kind of know what you're getting at. I've never been a super avid reader, but ive always enjoyed fiction and most sci-fi type stuff. As i get older i find myself gravitating towards more non-fiction. I recently read "Shadow Divers" which is the true story of some divers who discover an unknown U-Boat off the coast of New Jersey and spend years and several divers' lives in the pursuit of an identification. It was completely riveting which id rarely if ever experienced in a piece of non-fiction; felt like i remember the Harry Potter books feeling when i was a teenager. So maybe try expanding the scope of your search a little.


It's definitely is a muscle that can atrophy, and can be rebuilt. It takes about 3 weeks of reading most days for me to re-learn how to do it. Even after that period, it still takes me 10 - 15 minutes to properly slip back into a novel, which feels like an eternity when we're so used to instant gratification, but it's not so long if your average reading session is the length of an average film.


Yes! To your comment, if you could commit yourself to balancing and trying to produce an equivalent of just 1/10th of all the stuff you consume, I think you would end up being a major and great creator.

And just like you said, although creating and publishing takes a decent amount of courage, it is very rewarding, especially when the main purpose to do it comes for the sake of your own observation, learning and joy.


Which ”funny book” are you reading?


The book was ”Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey Moore.

Actually, even just by searching online you can find this small chapter from the book where he tells his ”high tech parable”, illustrating an (unfortunately) common story of a fast growing start-up that struggles to expand beyond its early adopter market into the critically important majority. I think you might consider it pretty funny too, although my humor might be dry here.... Even if it’s a bit early to tell, the book seems like a nice read!


Every time I see a post like this, I like to remind myself of a quote from Blaise Pascal in the 1600s,

"All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone,"

This has been an internal battles for most, for much longer than smartphones have been around.


The fallout of a decade of senseless pushing, growing and disrupting in the attention economy.

We'll get the smartphone zombie outbreak under control, but not before it becomes worse. And if not.. not sure we'll even care or notice anymore.


One way to combat this (if you’re physically capable): long distance running without headphones.

It forces you to focus on one thing alone: finish your route. I’ve found that my mind wanders, but the pain exerted by running for an hour or so inevitably brings you back.


Bicycle and motorcycle travel works too. You can think about things, but you're mostly focused on staying in movement.


Came on here to say it's exactly what I use cycling for. 5 hours on the bike means 5 hours not looking at my phone or laptop. Just turn the legs over and let your mind wander or stare into the landscape (or deal with traffic, which sucks).


I spend a lot of every year bike touring, and on popular routes I have met other tourers and talked about this very issue, or observed their behavior. Apparently, a lot of cyclists still feel a compulsion to stop every X minutes so that they can take out their phones and look at their social media.


Everyone travels their own way


Hi Pascalo, I have exactly the same feeling when going on a bike tour. We just did a 5-day, 250km bike ride along the Danube river here in south-Germany and it was one of the most incredible experiences I've had. On the saddle I feel free and my mind is resting. High-five!!


I've done the same route, with the same results! When you get to your stop, you're usually too tired to check your social media.


Now how awesome is that, a fellow human riding the ”donauradweg” here on Hacker News. Love it.


isnt the pain of running long distance a distraction too though?


Man, I am reading this book Awakening Intelligence by Jiddu Krishnamurthy. It says same thing. Everything we do is trying to distract us from our true selves.


Sure, but on a scale from 0 to 10 - it’s a 2. You can also walk or hike and then the only distraction is the scenery.


I love how, just 2 spots up from this post, is another post entitled "Debian Packages That Need Lovin' (debian.net)".

I do hope the Debian packages get the help they need (and this is a great place to ask for such help) but it's hilarious for my mind to ping-pong between "Hey, maybe that's a new hobby (that I probably don't have time for)" and "Huh. There are a lot of distractions out there" :)


I keep remembering that episode from The Outer Limits (the 90s series). I think the title was "The stream". It was set in the future, where everybody had an implant that they could use to access 'the stream' to get access to all the world's knowledge and information. (I.e. the internet, but back then even dialup internet was an uncommon thing for most people to have.)

The story was that there was a single guy who could not have the implant and he was, of course, and outcast. And then there was a virus that started to spread through the stream and people started to show strange symptoms. Well, maybe not that strange: they started to consume more and more information. First the infected just started to look up and quote seemingly irrelevant pieces of information. You know, like the things you'd see on Quora (or during a random trip to Wikipedia) and then they would spend more and more time fetching more knowledge and have more and more information hunger.

I'd say it's not unlike what we see around ourselves the past few years.


It seems though that people like this kind of thing, so it will get worse. Even in jobs that require focus like software development. Many people seem to like the bustle of constant chats in Slack instead of pre arranged meetings, face to face adhoc talks, open offices, living in a big city, notifications etc and then on a more technical level: setting up and configuring things that have nothing to do with the task at hand (which is writing code to answer to a business demand), spending strange amounts of time on 'automating their pipeline and processes' (which appears to be never finished and so is a perpetual distraction), checking out or even changing their stack/tools every week to adhere to the latest hype (which came from distractions like reddit and hn) etc etc.

Not saying good or bad but not sure if people will ever like a life without these things even though they feel it is far from optimal, productivity wise.


What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence, a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it. --Herbert Simon, economist


This reads a lot like the author just read Newport's "Deep Work". I highly recommend it if you liked this article.


I haven't read the book, but now I definitely will. Thank you for the tip!


I bought the iPhone 12 mini so it forces me to use it less due to its small screen size, it's been working pretty well so far.


Unpopular opinion but I've embraced it. I'm OK with doing everything in small chunks anyway. So yeah, in between three pages of a novel, I'll check my notifications. When my pomodoro counter hits during a coding session, I'll stand take a walk and stretch. Five minutes later, I'll check my phone. Then return to my desk. While relaxing and watching Netflix, when an episode finishes, I'll stop watching, close Netflix, check my phone. If it's bed time, bed. If it's something else, do it for a small amount of time with notable progress. Small chunks, always. A hacker news post or a Reddit meme. Never hours of /g/. But my phone is my companion, not my enemy.


Good points. And it reminds me that this is neither a new problem nor solved:

I find myself in these kinds of situations often, checking email or Twitter, or Facebook, with nothing to gain except the stress of a work-related message that I can’t answer right now in any case.

It turns out that digital devices and software are finely tuned to train us to pay attention to them, no matter what else we should be doing. The mechanism, borne out by recent neuroscience studies, is something like this: [...]

Source: https://medium.com/@hughmcguire/why-can-t-we-read-anymore-50...


I think by now, the post title is a cliché. That makes me wonder what I'll gain by reading another lament about how we're Stuck In The Shallows. That in turn makes me wonder if the post isn't an example of what it complains about.


We live in distraction because we give attention to what does not matter which, if we let our hair down, is the external world. The imperative of dying to the external world is a process of rediscovery of what does matter.


Go in to team sports (ice hockey, soccer, volleyball) reguarly, this will get your mind well disconnected for sufficient amount of time to recuperate.


Check out out Nir Eyal's book "Indistractable"[1].

It's about 5 hours long with plenty of useful tips for becoming indistractable.

1: https://www.nirandfar.com/indistractable/


I use my camera very often now for functional purposes, like snapshots of documents, paper maps, door notices and hours, etc where it serves as a replacement for having to remember things or even having to jot down a note.


distraction = destruction


And then there's Javascript.




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