862: Let Go

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Let Go
After years of trying various methods, I broke this habit by pitting my impatience against my laziness. I decoupled the action and the neurological reward by setting up a simple 30-second delay I had to wait through, in which I couldn't do anything else, before any new page or chat client would load (and only allowed one to run at once). The urge to check all those sites magically vanished--and my 'productive' computer use was unaffected.
Title text: After years of trying various methods, I broke this habit by pitting my impatience against my laziness. I decoupled the action and the neurological reward by setting up a simple 30-second delay I had to wait through, in which I couldn't do anything else, before any new page or chat client would load (and only allowed one to run at once). The urge to check all those sites magically vanished--and my 'productive' computer use was unaffected.

[edit] Explanation

It is human nature to lose interest in difficult or boring tasks, and instead do something easier, more interesting or more rewarding in the short term. While procrastination and distraction from more important tasks has always been present, this comic casts a light on the internet and the huge potential for distraction which it provides.

The first two frames in this comic are the set-up, and contain the websites CNN and Reddit and thoughts over the top of them. These types of websites are regularly updated with new content are prime candidates for distraction. The thought bubbles indicate that the reader is fully aware that they shouldn't be looking at these websites, but is unable to stop himself. Even the very rational thought that checking news stories more than once a day is bordering on pointless doesn't seem to stop him.

In the third frame, it starts to look a little different as the screen is not a computer but is in fact the targeting computer from Luke Skywalker's X-wing. At this point it becomes clear that there are far more important tasks at hand, namely flying the craft. Even then, Luke has in internal conflict and considers checking Facebook, but mentally checks himself, and to prevent himself from further compulsive browsing shuts down the system. The thought bubble at the bottom is one that is probably familiar to many people (especially students), essentially giving up attempting the task rather than actually concentrating on it.

In the fourth frame, we finally get the movie reference from Star Wars as Princess Leia and one of the Rebel Alliance's generals are gathered around the holographic table that allows them to follow the battle. In the movie, Luke turns off his targeting computer because he uses the Force to fire the torpedoes at the right time. But in this comic, Luke turns off the computer because he keeps getting distracted by Reddit and CNN. When they ask whether he is alright, he responds in the way most people would who have nearly been caught wasting time on the internet.

The headlines on CNN read 'Bees?', 'Where is Oman', and iReport (we mean you, that is.). The headline "Bees?" is a reference to Cards Against Humanity. One of the white cards says exactly that.

The title text is a serious solution to a procrastination problem that we see in the comic, later explained to take the form of simply rebooting the computer.

[edit] Transcript

[Reddit page.]
Luke (thinking): I shouldn't be looking at Reddit. Why can't I stop?
[CNN page.]
Luke (thinking): Refreshing CNN again. Do news stories so affect my life that I benefit from checking them more than once a day?
[Shutdown screen.]
Luke (thinking): I should at least check Faceb... no. Screw it. I can't do my job when I'm distracting myself every five minutes like this.
[Two people before a battlefield screen.]
Cueball: His computer's off. Luke - You've switched off your targeting computer. What's wrong?
Luke: Nothing. I'm all right.
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Discussion

Try an RSS feed. You only have to refresh one source, which cuts back on all the links that you visit daily massively. Google reader is what I prefer myself, but that's just me. Davidy²²[talk] 10:04, 9 March 2013 (UTC)

RIP Google Reader. --Jeff (talk) 19:17, 31 March 2013 (UTC)


First of all, please pardon my english, I am not a native speaker. I'm afraid I don't entirely share your point of view about Oman and the Indian Ocean. First because what I see on the map is not the Indian Ocean. It's Cyprus, Northern Egypt and the Middle East (lands are white) and the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf (seas are grey). I agree that we can't see Oman on this map, though. But (99% of) Oman is not situated on the Persian Gulf; it's on the Gulf of... Oman and on the Arabian Sea, both of which can be considered as parts of the Indian Ocean.

Nevertheless, thanks for your explanation. I love xkcd and I am sure I used to miss a lot of the fun, when I read it without knowing this wiki. Xavier 82.226.129.79 12:40, 3 August 2013 (UTC)
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