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Digital art by Werner Hornung

GenZ Stoic

an unexamined life is not worth living

Does GenZ have a shorter attention span?

intuitive answer: yes!

  • reasoning: harder to focus on one thing at a time.
    • TLDR; frequent context switching to ensure constant or increasing flow of dopamine.
    • it doesn't matter if I am consuming low or high-quality dopamine (low: watching reaction videos, high: working on a side project; subjective to your life philosophy).
    • if I find a higher dopamine source I'll do the context switch (consciously ignoring any procrastination cue).
    • case study: me working on a side project
      • focus time: setup git repo; open and skim through required documentation, reference project, vi editor; initial boilerplate code; push an initial commit. (~30mins, feel: I started something, deserve a break now)
      • interval time: twitter; skim through some articles; check IG, whatsapp (constantly trying to maintain or increase the dopamine levels)
        • maybe let’s go back to work? YES! but let’s get some coffee first.
        • makes coffee; more twitter; some IG; etc (~25mins, feel: productivity degradation, should work now)
      • hence this cycle keeps on going until the focus time ceases to exist.
      • causes behind this degradation of focus time:
        • relatively easy dopamine source available elsewhere (thanks to digital age corporations optimizing for maximum engagements because of their advertisement business model)
        • emotional brain triumph over the logical brain (instant gratification)
    • other examples:
      • reading youtube comments while watching the video.
      • using multiple apps on multiple devices at once.
      • constantly switching between apps to ensure a constant flow of dopamine rush.
      • exponential growth of interval time leading to degradation of focus time.
      • conscious ignorance of procrastination cues.

a common counter-argument that I've noticed recently:

  • "People don't have shorter attention span". they finish 3 hour Joe Rogan episodes, they binge 14 hours shows.
    • essentially alluding to the point that a provider must guarantee and convince its consumer in the starting few minutes of consumption that they'll receive ever-increasing levels of dopamine.
  • IMO, although this point does make sense but is limited to easy or passive material.
  • one could consume a high-quality engaging material on microservice architecture but unless they have built such a system themselves it will never transfer as a skill (even psychologically).
  • and the only way to actively do something is by embracing delayed gratification and triumphing over the procrastination cues.

why just genz and not the previous generations?

  • wanted to limit the scope of contemplation.
  • I am part of genz.
  • there is a trade-off that one must consider when talking about genz and previous generations since growing with the internet genz do get access to information quite easily but on the other side they are exposed to a lot more noise and cheap dopamine.
  • IMO, we are better off than previous generations if we can develop and strengthen critical thinking and rationality.