September 25th, 2020

The Inferior Good of Entertainment - Friday Notes 117

In The War on Normal People I came across an interesting idea called inferior good. Evidently it's an economic term for "good" things where demand decreases as you earn more. So the less you earn the more you invest in terms of time/money in this thing.

This is often video games, TV watching, YouTube...People with less money spend more time on these activities than people with more money.

As I've been thinking about it this week, we are surrounded by inferior good things. My YouTube watching is an inferior good, which almost always leaves me feeling empty. I get little true value from Twitter, and luckily I abandoned Facebook and currently am on an Instagram break.

I don't expect to change the definition of the term, but I've been thinking of these items in terms of how I feel after doing them. After I've watched a bunch of random YouTube videos, do I feel more energized to hang out with my family? Does scrolling randomly on Twitter leave me with more or less energy? Picking up my phone in a minute of boredom...am I smiling when I finish because I feel deep satisfaction at the result of that activity?

No. None of those things hold true.

So I've added some rules to my life this week.

My New Rules

While men's pants have these wonderful things called pockets, phones no longer go in my pockets unless I choose to walk and listen to a podcast. Otherwise a phone must be put down on the counter or even better...stay in my office.

Sometimes I do get great insight from YouTube, but if I'm not careful I watch stupid videos that leave me feeling empty. From now on I must have two distinct actions.

First is gathering. I am not allowed to watch a YouTube when I see it I have to put it in my watch later queue.

Second is watching. I'm only allowed to watch videos that are in my watch later queue. That does mean I'm allowed to watch StarCraft II replays and pick up tips, but only if I've added it to my queue first. I can't just watch a recommendation.

There have been a few benefits to this. I don't just grab my phone, though I find myself reaching for it. When I have to walk downstairs to get my phone I realize how little value I get out of my phone. It's too much work to get my phone because there is no value there.

Another benefit is that I choose what to watch. I've caught some fun StarCraft II replays over lunch, and then when I've scheduled YouTube time at my desk I watch and take notes on other videos that are "more important". When I watch YouTube I am far less likely to feel "empty" after.

Watch for my upcoming course on time blocking which will be on SkillShare

Do you have any rules you use to limit your wasted time?

I Shipped

Monday I talked about the apps that make my iPad better than macOS. Most of the time I'd rather work on my iPad.

With iOS 14 out I did an extra video this week showing off some task manager based home screens. I'm still a bit off knowing exactly what I'll do with my widgets, but I do like them.

Wednesday I put together a video showing off how I take notes on my Kindle and move those into Obsidian.

Today's book review is Selfish Reasons to Have Kids. The short version is, we figure we have way more effect on our kids than we do. Our genes do most of the work, so stop stressing out and take it easy. Your kids will almost always turn out fine.