I've been somewhat entranced by this idea lately, that the reason news, even news that makes us angry, is so addictive is that we live very comfortable lives devoid of the traditional stimulation of trying desperately to stay alive and respond to nature. Modern offices are deliberately boring so people will focus on work, but many things are similarly sterile. So we seek stimulation, and being angry is strong stimulation. Being bored is so terrible that being angry is better.
This idea seems simple enough, but it was immediately followed by the obvious follow-up: that, if you want to remove negative memes and other time sucks, the best way to do that is to take time every day doing something that makes you nervous. Ask the coffee shop to give you something for free with your purchase, if that makes your stomach churn. Make new business relationships. Meet new people. Ask for favors or go alone to a strange new place. Whatever it is that scares you. Humans are built to be in scary environments relatively frequently. If you have a scared-deficiency, you'll seek out the terrible news and social media stuff.
The natural pairing for this idea is that modern mega-societies leave us in a mal-adaptive state, being more afraid of strangers than we ought to be. We're all much too shy, says the theory, because strangers are much less dangerous. The most adaptive behavior should exist in an equilibrium with much more meeting of strangers, because our instincts make us wary of a danger that's no longer present. We're afraid of rejection, but there's not any cost to rejection in almost all cases.
These two ideas make a strange and delightful pairing, don't they? There are plenty of business contacts I haven't made because I'm afraid of wasting someone's time, and that includes someone who regularly says he's interested in hearing from all [insert a category I'm a part of] that want to contact him.
I'm also far too nervous. And I've noticed, the days I've asked out a beautiful woman, I've not spent any time on Twitter later. But a kiss on the cheek doesn't last a week – sooner than I'd like, I return to seeking stimulation, and I'm not sure why else it'd be.
There's too much uncertainty here to even describe. But I'd say this framework is, tentatively, plausible. And if not plausible, useful – there really is no reason to be afraid of e.g. making cold sales calls. The dread I feel isn't rational. And using that fear to also attempt to avoid social media? Even if it fails in that respect, it's still something I'd want to do.
Plus I think I'd like more pumpkin spice in my drinks at the coffee store, and if I don't ask, I'll never know if they still have it.