The "ludic loop" of checking email, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all day

Very, very lucid.

But like with most analyses and analogogies, I can’t do the step to goal-oriented behaviour from here.

[inspects dangerous online community]
[follows the posts]

pbs newhour is a large part of my cognitive bias
boing boing is a large part of my ludic loop


Hooray for rural living! In summer, I get caught in a loop of watching my bees come and go. I take my afternoon tea up there, and soon, it’s dinner time. I’m going to keep doing it, though, I’m thoroughly addicted.


When I lived in Santa Cruz, CA, I could walk a few blocks to the ocean and, if I wasn’t surfing, there was always something beautiful to gaze upon. Best times were finding dolphins/whales hunting in the shallows with “aerial attack” pelicans dive-bombing at the margins. Good stuff.


Like how you zone out driving and snap out of it at your destination, I’ve found myself bored scrolling through Facebook and caught myself closing it and looking for something else by opening…Facebook.


My loop is Twitter, Facebook, BBS. Twitter is just a firehose these days, a never-ending stream of oh-my-god-WHAT-NOW :dizzy_face:


This article is kind of short on practical advice so I’ve put some together. Hopefully folks can get past my irritated mood and hopefully some of my suggestions are useful.

How long do you think the average work email goes unread? 10 minutes? 5 minutes? 1 minute?

Try 6 seconds.

A few years ago, I realized email was making me miserable and I stopped letting email pop up on my work computer and told Mail on my work phone it wasn’t allowed to give me notifications. I check it a few times a day (usually about every 30 minutes but less often if I’m in the middle of a longer task). The Gmail app helpfully guesses whether an incoming email is Promotional, Social, or something you might actually need to read immediately so it’s a bit less obnoxious by default. I still tell it not to make any noise.

I also set up a rule where if it didn’t come from my boss and my name isn’t in the To field, the email gets moved to another folder I check 2-3x a day. No one has even noticed I handle my email differently than anyone else.

And if you have kids, this issue is even more serious. Children don’t learn empathy and emotional intelligence from screens. And Adam says kids now spend 20% less time playing face-to-face. Guess where that time went? Exactly.

The world acknowledges we need coping mechanisms but doesn’t give us any and then guilts and shames us when some of us pick a smartphone to deal with anxiety or whatever else. I’ve spent a lot of effort trying to get my self-shaming under some kind of control (I haven’t succeeded yet … but I think I’m getting a little better). I don’t let other people shame me.

The lack of empathy and emotional intelligence isn’t a technology issue anyway. It’s a social and cultural issue. We don’t know how to have meaningful conversations. When we try to have one, we end up resorting to what the authors of Crucial Conversations call “verbal violence.” When we’re on the receiving end of verbal violence, we either strike back or we withdraw from the conversation. That’s really oversimplifying things. We also teach everyone to be cutthroat and look out for number one but don’t get caught and always look like you’re sympathetic to everyone.

As a kid who empathized deeply with everyone, all of the above was extremely confusing. I had all of that growing up in an era where cell phones cost $1300 and were really more car phones than cell phones. :laughing:

  1. “Don’t” Say “Can’t”

Instead of this, turn off notifications on apps mercilessly. You don’t need to hear about concerts in your area from Pandora or get a reminder from Amazon that new books are out … one that you’re going to get in your email anyway.

It’s a little harder to do this on Android than on iPhone but I promise it’ll make you happier. Constant interruptions are the world’s way of inviting us to multitask immediately. Multitasking is bad for your mental health and non-urgent urgent interruptions are just asking to invoke fight-or-flight.

  1. Proximity Is Destiny

Instead of this, set up automatic Do Not Disturb times. This is pretty easy on Android and iPhone. I don’t let my phone bug me after 9PM or before 6AM. That gives me 2-3 hours of blissful silence before I go to bed and keeps oddball apps from waking me up at 3AM in the morning.

If you’re working on something you don’t need your phone for, manually set it to DND. Androids should definitely get a DND switch like iOS devices have. I use mine several times a week. Any time I get irritated because my phone interrupted me in the middle of something else, *flick* handled.

  1. Use A “Stopping Rule”

From a practical perspective, I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do with this advice. If you’re saying “set a timer to remind you to stop,” yes, that’s a good idea. Your phone has a timer built in. :slight_smile:

I think maybe more useful advice is … when you find yourself hitting refresh repeatedly on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, or BBS, go do something else.

  1. Dr. Jekyll, Prepare For Mr. Hyde

(Yep, I skipped 4. I don’t have any comments on 4. Except maybe … we’re not all always ready to deal with committing to reading a book at this exact moment. If I pick up a book right this minute, I could well be reading it until 3AM. I have work tomorrow. Try Mother Jones. Their articles are often really in depth.)

I think people will be a lot less tempted to read their phone at the table when they have all their app notifications turned off. Then if you need to spend a moment on your phone for your own mental health, you don’t have to make a big deal about it.

Despite my anxiety, I use my phone less at the table than everyone else I eat with and I think it has a lot to do with controlling my notifications.


This. Well said.

(Likewise headphones.)

[ETA] Relevant to that point:


I’ve come at this the opposite way. I leave default notifications on. For everything. Pandemonium at the start, but eventually notification fatigue sets in and now that little notification buzz is just a reminder somebody loves me, but doesn’t incite urgent action. How many things a day really NEED urgent reaction, anyway?

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I have an anxiety disorder and sensory issues so I can’t filter things out without more overwhelming stimulus. More power to you though. :laughing:

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