July 27, 2010

Paul Graham: The Acceleration of Addictiveness. Basically, he says that one of the consequences of technological development is that as things get better, they get harder to leave alone. I liked this:

Which means that as the world becomes more addictive, the two senses in which one can live a normal life will be driven ever further apart. One sense of “normal” is statistically normal: what everyone else does. The other is the sense we mean when we talk about the normal operating range of a piece of machinery: what works best.

These two senses are already quite far apart. Already someone trying to live well would seem eccentrically abstemious in most of the US. That phenomenon is only going to become more pronounced. You can probably take it as a rule of thumb from now on that if people don’t think you’re weird, you’re living badly.

One of the reasons I haven’t blogged so much is that I’m trying to live well by not spending quite so much time on the computer.

I will dispute something he said in the footnotes:

I suspect the recent resurgence of evangelical Christianity in the US is partly a reaction to drugs. In desperation people reach for the sledgehammer; if their kids won’t listen to them, maybe they’ll listen to God.

I think people are reacting to a lot more than drugs. Besides encouraging more addictive behaviors, modern society as a lot of other negative traits: faithlessness, rootlessness, materialism, etc.


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