Friday, January 02, 2015

This Week in EID - Episode 35

This is our last short week for a while.  There is a theme to the three posts this week.  All of them are about things that we do intentionally that are in direct conflict with our own best interests. 

For example, lifelogging is one of those things I never understood.  Why would anyone interrupt an experience that they are enjoying so that they can document it to look at later?  In one sense, there is a strange logic to it.  If you document it, you can pretend to enjoy it over and over again – even if you didn’t have a chance to fully enjoy it the first time.  But the truth is that you don’t need to document it to remember it.  Imagination is a wonderful thing.  So the real reason is more likely to be to share it on your social networks.  The objective isn’t to enjoy your life yourself, it is to brag about it to your friends so they will all be jealous. As long as they feel worse than you, you didn’t need to enjoy it the first time. Sad.

I have been impressed with the strength of the HF community’s attention to the issue of cell phones and driver distraction. If not for us, many people would still think that hands-free is the solution.  But this study shows that the problem is even worse that we realized.  Just having a phone in the vicinity distracts your attention.  We sacrifice the joy of whatever we are doing at the moment on the off chance that some random acquaintance might be sending us a text message.  As with the life logging, even minimal social connection trumps everything else. Sad.

Then the last post is on commitment devices.  These discourage us from doing things that we know we shouldn’t but don’t have the willpower to stop ourselves.  Smoking, eating unhealthful foods, skipping exercise . . whatever.  It is a shame that we need to force ourselves to do what is in our own best interests.  We have no willpower.  To tie it back to the rest of the week, many of these commitment devices use social shaming as the disincentive.  If you are tempted by the negative behavior, it tells all of your friends about it as a way to get you to stop. Sad.

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