The Allure of False Productivity
The Internet makes it easy to slack off. I can’t tell you how many projects I’ve had derailed by my raging Facebook addiction. But there are a lot of online distractions that are more subtle. There are certain apps and websites that feel more useful than they are. Not that they’re completely useless, but they make it easy to slack off in the name of getting things done, tricking you with false productivity.
LinkedIn is the reigning king of false productivity sites. Because it’s centered around the work world, everything you do with the site feels kind of like productive work. But it most cases, it’s no better than looking at cat pictures on Facebook. When you endorse someone on LinkedIn for some job-related skill, you feel a real sense of accomplishment, even though all you did was click a button or two.
There are productive things you can do with LinkedIn, of course. Keeping your resume current is always a good idea, as is checking out the job boards. And if you want a productive method of promoting a friend or colleague, the site allows you to write letters of recommendation. Unlike the endorsements feature, these recommendations can include specific details. Writing a letter of recommendation is a lot more work than clicking an endorsement button, but that’s kind of the point.
Tinder is a popular dating app that works on a simple yes/no choice. You see pictures of local singles with optional short paragraphs. If you’re interested in the person shown, you swipe right. If not, you swipe left. And if you and the other person both swipe yes, the app allows you to chat with one another. It’s a good idea, but the problem is that looking through pictures is a lot more fun than actually talking to people. This once again leads to false productivity. Swiping through photos feels productive. It feels good to see all the dating prospects around you. But when you do find someone who likes you back, you still have to do the work of actually talking to that person.
I know this first-hand because I’m really bad at messaging women I’m interested in. I see some cute girl, swipe right, and to my surprise, she likes me back. Then I get distracted and think, “I’ll message her later.” Later, it would seem, almost never comes. And this leads to a problem with every single dating site out there. At the end of the day, you still have to put your heart on the line, get out there, and talk to another human being.
What apps or websites feel productive when you use them, but really aren’t? Let me know in the comment section.