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He's completely right in his reasoning, but just like a lot of pessimistic predictions made about people, this one doesn't take into account the human ability to realize and fix something like this if it becomes a real problem.

I quit using a cell phone once I realized it was killing my concentration (and a Palm Pre is a hard thing to give up). I haven't used Twitter in months, Facebook sees me like once a week, and my email is quickly sorted (with the help of Webos 3.0's amazing mail client) once in the morning or whenever I feel like it.

I have a feeling a lot more people will try this in the next few years (and they'll love it).




I think that you're partly right, and it ties in with one of the points in pg's essay about addictive technology[1], that societies eventually develop antibodies to addictive new things. The problem (also noted in the essay, which grows more frightening the longer I think about it) is that most of the people who succumb to the addictive thing will not change their lifestyle to overcome it. Meanwhile, many companies in Silicon Valley are working to make their products as addictive as possible, soaking the most vulnerable users for the most money. The poster boy for this behavior is Zynga, but you see it everywhere.

What's the solution? Maybe we need to try harder to add addictive properties to activities we value. Or maybe we need a cultural movement away from things that are low-value and addictive to things that are high-value but not very addictive. It's difficult, because almost anything that's fun is potentially addictive. Reading, coding, and exercise are all valuable and can all be addictive. Not all addictions are equal. Running for two hours a day is probably better than playing Farmville for two hours a day.

I think that Matt's comments hit home because we're often in a position now of building things that lock people into harmful addictive behaviors. We all have to ask ourselves whether the work we do is valuable, or just lucrative.

[1] http://www.paulgraham.com/addiction.html


I like your idea for solutions a lot and think there's some great room for ideas to brew from there.

After reading GTD for Hackers[1], I kept thinking about ways to keep the momentum going after the initial excitement wore off… perhaps gamifying email and/or tasks (I hate that word, but it works).

[1]: http://gtdfh.branchable.com/


It's wonderful how people make money from distractions which in turn enable others to exploit the increasingly unaware.

But truly it is scary.

I lose days just reading HN, Paul Graham, Rodgers and that's after closing 20 tabs of webcomics, hardware and software news etc.

I think the only way out is as PG said it, actively fighting it - shutdown your computer, close them tabs, work on a good old console only linux, destroy skynet ?

My take is that in the end, we're all animals, but our self-awareness enables us to manipulate ourselves into doing what we want ( a bit like some article about pavlovian start your computer, fire up git and all that - don't remember who or when) - i.e. by consciously addicting ourselves to what we want to be doing.

I should get into that a bit more though -- seeing how I still read HN etc.


He's completely wrong. If everybody on earth decides by their own volition to waste their entire life consuming blog updates and Twitter feeds, what basis exactly do you have to say they aren't to live their life the way they see fit?

You have absolutely no real basis at all. And if you're going to open up that can of worms, there are roughly a zillion other issues that have to then be judged harshly and treated with equal disdain.

That slut you slept with last night, the one you picked up for a one night stand from the bar. How dare you waste your time in such a shallow and frivolous fashion. Sluts are destroying the world!

What you're talking about are lifestyle choices on how people choose to spend their time. You might as well start taking up positions against homosexuality and judging people for their lifestyle choices more broadly, because it's exactly the same thing.




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