we stare rapt into its bright light

The smartphone is an intimate device; we stare rapt into its bright light and stroke its smooth glass to coax out information and connect with others. It seems designed to help us achieve Westin’s functions of privacy*, to enable emotional release and moments of passive reflection. We cradle it in bed, at dinner, on the toilet. Its pop-up privacy policies are annoying speed bumps in the otherwise instantaneous conjuring of desires. It feels like a private experience, when really it is everything but. How often have you shielded the contents of your screen from a stranger on the subway, or the partner next to you in bed, only to offer up your secrets to the data firm tracking everything you do?

~ Amanda Hess, excerpt from “How Privacy Became a Commodity for the Rich and Powerful” (NY Times, May 9, 2017)


No wonder you’re tired. Soul-weary. Sucked dry.


Plaid or stripes? Flats or heels? Tall or grande? Latte or drip? Soy milk? Almond milk? Rice milk? Before you’ve taken your first sip of coffee, the decisions have started. By some estimates, the average American adult makes 35,000 decisions a day. No wonder you’re tired. Soul-weary. Sucked dry. The kind of tired 10 hours of sleep can’t fix.

You are suffering from decision fatigue. And there’s only one cure: Stop being the decider of everything. Sounds easy. But it’s not. We are—all of us—always one Google search away from dozens of potentially meaningless decisions.

Last month, I decided it was time to seal my deck. Once, I might have bought whatever deck stain the local hardware store carried. Now there is no local hardware store, so I found myself reading 45 reviews of deck stains, from semitransparent to solid. I compared the ultraviolet-blocking power in latex stains and weighed that against the volatile-organic-compound vapors of oil-based counterparts. I turned one decision into an entire decision tree of trade-offs and comparisons. When I was done, I may or may not have made a better choice, but this was certain: I was too tired to seal my deck. Good thing I didn’t have any stain around.

That’s decision fatigue. […]

Why are we doing this to ourselves? Because we overvalue two things that have become abundantly available: data and choices. When everything is measurable, everything seems knowable. […]

Having data feels like power. Having choices feels like freedom. Sometimes having both is having neither.

~ Jim Sollisch, excerpts from The Cure For Decision Fatigue

Image:”Red in white by Dmitriy Pokrovskiy” via Aberrant Beauty

%d bloggers like this: