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Detatch from content by injecting distance

Surfing on the internet or scrolling social media comes with many urges. To click this link, to read this article, to watch the video. The truth is that people often find themselves in a trap, in an eternal rabbit hole of shiny things they have to explore and experience. It comes with no surprise that information hoarding has become a distinct trait of modern culture — at least for some folks.

But why does this rabbit hole appear in the first place? Because it’s in the nature — to capture what’s in front of you, to dive deep into it right now! Otherwise it will be gone forever. We are informavores, after all:

If learning is intrinsically rewarding, the brain should respond to new information in a way similar to how it responds to primary rewards like food and sex. Indeed, neuroimaging studies show that when people are curious about the answers to trivia questions or watch a blurry picture become clear, reward-related structures in their brains are activated. 1.

Taking another stance, the reason why people can struggle with these rabbit holes is lack of distance. As in the distance between the trigger and the reaction. Between “see the shiny thing” and “act upon the shiny thing”.

So it might be a great idea to create interfaces that help building this distance. A distance that would ease the pressure of “now” in the moment. And it might turn out that the thing that one’s saved is actually something one doesn’t need.

Here comes another thing about the interfaces and distance — it creates another layer of consciousness around whatever the personal content consumption model is. For example, in case of read-it-later-apps the save button itself poses a question “do I really need it?“. And the second step is whether or not the thing saved was retrieved after all.

References

Footnotes

  1. Hemmelder, V. and Blanchard, T. (2016). “Why Humans Are Hard-Wired for Curiosity.” Footnote.