I read a very nice article which summarized some relevant concerns of our advancing technology. It dovetails with the idea that there are certain warning words I’ve discovered in myself when I’m about to procrastinate.
Specifically, these are the words “just” and “should“:
- I’m just going to … (check email for a second, give that person a call, etc.)
- I should be doing blah or bleh.
They both deny some aspects of reality.
“Just” suggests that whatever it is I’m doing will not be impacted by a moment’s diversion. However, it is the diversion at all that disrupts the task, not just the time taken.
- The denial here is that attention is not breakable or is stronger than it is.
The latter “should” is trickier. It implies circumstances which do not exist. While perhaps “I should be reading x, y or z” – the reality is that I am not. “Should” then does several things:
- It actively skips over the circumstances of how I got to what I am doing now, and
- it skips over how x, y, and z have been avoided.
Without that information, “should” becomes both:
- a moral judgment (e.g. “I’m lazy” ) as it becomes the only explanation and
- yet another means of avoiding a task as I do not actively map how to get there taking these circumstances into account.
Certainly other warning terms exist, both subtle and those less so, and I’m not about to write a letter asking these words be removed from our vocabulary. But when attention has a tendency to waver, it is good to consider that there may be warning signs.