Putting a dent in persistent novelty


Novelty is the sugar of our existence. It’s what keeps us coming back for more. And technology is at the center of its stickiness.

Information is a click away; Twitter and Instagram offer more curated entertainment than we could ever access. The internet never ends with each refresh, like pulling the lever at a casino searching for a variable reward.

Rolling the dice, we expect the unexpected, drawn like a magnet to parts unknown. Boredom is temporary; newness offers a permanent dose of dopamine. But the persistence is numbing. As Nassim Nicholas Taleb notes, “Abundance is harder for us to handle than scarcity.”

Everyone deserves a proper rest and reset. Abstaining from the things that make us feel good recalibrates the brain’s wiring in the short term for long-term good. But one can’t expect to withdraw from obsessions cold turkey.

We have to conjure hurdles by putting a cost on the glut of acquiring new things and information. Decreased consumption is the engine of self-growth, as we make meaning with what he have to play with rather than pulling from the firehose.

Gradually, and then suddenly, slowing down strengthens genuine novelty by reactivating the thinking muscles. Disconnecting —even temporarily— can be just enough to recharge one’s life.