I need categories. Not for neatly dissecting the world, but simply for sorting. Because unsorted lists require fast context-switching. That’s why I prefer Downes’s articles in a categorized list: (downesarticles) — and why the social media streams exasperate me.
With a sorted list, my brain can leverage the ‘priming’ effect of the similar previous readings, and immerse into their context such that a deep understanding is more likely. By contrast, switching contexts too quickly, is straining and unnecessarily overwhelming and confusing. I suspect, of course, that the confusing and dumbing effect of the stream is very welcome for the big platforms: so they can offer their patronizing guidance and recommendations. The more glaring, screaming and intrusive, the better.
I must not deny that, sometimes, I fall prey to scrolling the stream. When I am tired and have no energy left for sustained engagement, I look for quick bits of stimulation. (Thanks to Jack Vinson for his multitasking post and pointers.) These bits seem like quickly energizing sugar, while long-digesting fatty acids are then unattractive for the moment. The candy bits promise superficial engagement and novelty. (See here what Iain McGilchrist said about novelty vs. newness if you want a deep dive into his context.) So, the stultification works, and leads people ever more to dependence and from pull to push.