Thursday, May 15, 2014

BOOKMARKS: THE NEW EVASIVE PARADIGM

STATUTORY WARNING: If you bookmark this article for later, you are in serious trouble.

Image Courtesy: Google
With just a swirl of my hammer, I could demolish the complete social media system, which has already become an institutionalized system that governs, controls, and punishes its subjects, for all the harmful impacts it has upon us. That is if I were Thor, the god of thunder in Norse mythology. However, with the reality being made clear, no one can tether social media to the iron bar of a prison cell. Such attempts would be called authoritarian and by nature, I am not one of them.

To criticize social media on the harms it had brought upon us, you have to be either a moralist or a fundamentalist. There is no choice, once you start voicing your concerns, from being labeled under any one of these narrow political icons. An iconoclasm in the powerful political arena is not underway yet and would not ensue in any recent times. Therefore, there is no other choice other than bearing the cross and taking the spitting of the world. I will make my face stone like. Nothing would affect me.

Among other “bad things” done to us by the social media, one relatively trivial thing escapes most of our discussions. We do not consider this ‘thing’ to be one among the other potentially harmful information streaming through social media. We take this as ‘useful’.

‘Usefulness’ is the basic credo upon which the whole institution of World Wide Web works. The one ‘bad thing’ I am going to discuss here hides inside the ‘usefulness’ credo. What I am talking about is the “bookmarks tab”.

To the right or to the left hand side, top, or bottom, depending upon which browser one uses, one can find the bookmarks tab. It gives the chance to dump all the links to important information and long articles for a later perusal.

If someone tell you, the person has “bookmarked” the article you sent him, consider it forgotten. I talk standing upon the fire of realizations my personal experiences taught me. Bloggers often face this rather frustrating situation. Friends, cousins and other family members, who often hear from someone else about your ‘brilliant’ blog post, would often want you to send them the link. If the next thing you hear back is--“WOW boy, you have done a wonderful job. Such a long article, you have written! I bookmarked it. I will read it soon and will let you know my comments.”—you know what would happen. I know the feeling.

The personal part of the story is, I have dozens of pages bookmarked and ‘saved for later’ perusal, many of which never find enough time from me. It might take me more than 24 hours to go through all the pages I have bookmarked in all the three browsers I use, Chrome, Firefox, and Explorer.

Apart from our general consent to procrastinate, what else do bookmarks help us with?

In the non-internet sense, bookmarks were extremely useful technique for readers. A small piece of paper could tell them where they left off reading due to some interminable urgency. However, in the pro-internet sense, the word has come to symbolize, (almost ironically) the place where one leaves reading a page, only never to come back again (in most cases).
Image Courtesy:charlesduhigg.com

Researchers say that three decisive factors contribute to form human habits. Certainly, habit has form. Now it’s been uncovered and the hypothesis that is currently considered acceptable involves three factors. These thee decisive factors act in a cyclical form known as “habit loop” to form habits. More information on habits can be found in Charles Duhigg’s book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business. Charles Duhigg is a business writer with New York Times.

The three decisive factors that form habits are—Reminder, Routine, and Reward. ‘Reminder’ is a “cue or trigger that starts the habit.” For example, the length of the article that you are about to read online and the time you are left with. Your watch could act as a perfect reminder and you might turn to the next stage inadvertently—Routine.

‘Routine’ is the action involved in habit. Bookmarking itself is part of that routine. The habit of bookmarking is no exception from the ‘habit loop’ hypothesis. That gives us the third factor—Reward. It may be subjective what reward one garners psychologically by repeating an action as a habit. However, in picking up a habit, reward-consciousness plays a crucial role.

If a reward is involved with bookmarking pages habitually, what that reward might be is an interesting area to ponder over. Would the reward be the satiation of our innate love for procrastination? Or is it laziness?

Image Courtesy: Google
This is where some habits become important concerns for the health of the individual. What guarantee do we have that the internal reward our mind consciously or unconsciously wills would go along with our well-being? There is no such thing as objectivity to our subconscious mind, reminds Dr. Dyer in his book Wishes Fulfilled. The subconscious mind does not look at what is right or what is wrong. It merely follows what is transmitted to it through our thoughts.   

Bookmarks and the drive to bookmark longer articles or videos for a later time without ever taking time to come back to it could expose the individual to trigger a new ‘habit loop’.

Sociologically, this new paradigm of “leaving it for later time” or evasive strategy could bring a catastrophic meltdown of the society’s efficient working. This is so, especially because the time dedicated for using the internet is relatively longer in many cases than the dedicated time for any other activity. This raises the potential of ‘catching’ a bad habit on the way.

It’s good to see you following this post to its end. Let this be a new start. Let us read and watch to finish. Is there anything shameful in taking this cause up as a social movement? I don’t think so.

If you have a long blog post in your website, you should know how I feel about it.


Read more Anu HERE  
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