The Inner Monologue

by Amit Gawande

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How dependent am I on my smartphone?

I have always owned a smartphone since 2009 when I purchased an iPhone 3GS. I don’t even remember the phone that I used before that. Most probably, it was Nokia N73. It was a fun device. The physical keys for music playback and the camera were a nice touch. I used the Opera browser on the device, which was as good as it could get for that time. But once I was on a smartphone, I could never go back. That was until recently when I started considering moving back to a dumb phone, a feature phone again.

I want to free myself of the lure of the smartphone when I should be focused. I have managed to do that while at home – I keep the device out of my reach—often in the next room. However, I want to leave my smartphone at home when I go outside, which is easier said than done. Over the years, I have grown to be highly dependent on the smartness of this bloody device.

A smartphone and a book

Whenever I go out...

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I won’t…

I won’t act because I may miss out otherwise.

I won’t use a productivity tool because everyone else uses the tool.

I won’t keep a productivity planner.

I won’t praise a movie or book because it has won an award.

I won’t hate a book or a movie because it doesn’t have a 4+ rating.

I won’t buy something because it is on sale or will soon go out of stock.

I won’t join you because you consider me your privileged customer.

I won’t play video games or read comic books because people I connect with do.

I won’t overload my calendar because the system works for some gurus.

I won’t have an hour-wise to-do/tasks list.

I won’t schedule my creativity.

I won’t write now because I should write daily.

I won’t fall for FOMO.

I won’t.

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Shaken Confidence

I have my usual routine of ignoring everything around me when I travel on an aeroplane. I have seen these non-events so many times now that they hardly register anymore.

Air hostesses acknowledge my presence. I find myself a seat and try to get comfortable. The cabin crew go through the customary security drill which they rush through as interestless eyes stare at them. And on and on. If you have ever travelled on an aeroplane more than once, you know the routine. You need to travel more than once though – you are too busy the first time to understand the futile complications of this travel.

Anyway, the whole experience of air travel is so mechanical, so mundane that any deviation is conspicuous. Well, during my last flight, one such deviation ruined my hour-long flight.

One of the regular tasks that a captain performs post-take-off is to switch off the “fasten seat belt” sign. He...

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Hair Style

I recently met an old acquaintance, a planned but not scheduled meeting. You know, the meetings when you know that you might come across someone but don’t know when? Yep, that. I dread such meetings – more often than not, you say something that you instantly regret. It’s your uncertainty, your nervousness that takes over and makes a fool out of you.

Well, this time it wasn’t my turn to be the nervous guy though.

The moment I came face to face with the said fellow, the first thing (after the cursory smile and nod of the head) that he said was, “Hey, I didn’t recognise you with that new hairstyle of yours”.

It caught me off-guard for a moment. Do you blame me? Calling modern art the slight hair shapes on my head “style” is a hyperbole. I style my hair just as much as some gardener landscapes a roadside bush. It grows, takes shape and falls in spaces it finds vacant, something that’s...

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The Paradoxes of Modern Life →

David Perell wrote an excellent note listing down a few paradoxes of modern life as per him. I was nodding along with each thought; contemplating the profoundness behind each of these naked truths of our lives.

Here is, for example, a thought on reading - “the books you read will profoundly change you even though you’ll forget the vast majority of what you read.” How true is that? I went through the list of the books that I have highly rated on Goodreads. I do not remember every detail from any of those books. But just a look at the title evokes a specific emotion within me, reminds me of how it affected me when I last read it.

I especially paused at the paradox of writing - “great writing looks effortless. But because the ideas are so clear, casual readers don’t appreciate how much time it took to refine them.” I can’t agree more. Every post that I enjoy, including this one from...

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These psychological tricks won’t work for me

I recently came across this interesting thread on Reddit asking “What is the most effective psychological trick you use?” It has some curious replies which are well summarized by BuzzFeed1 – they were blown away by these. For me though, they just won’t work.

  1. “To avoid workplace drama and be liked, compliment people behind their back” – Nope, don’t do that. Just never do anything to people behind their backs. A compliment not given to a person’s face is a compliment not given at all.
  2. “Saying ‘You’re right!’ instead of ‘I know’” – Don’t be afraid to say “I know” when you actually know. Passivity in communication doesn’t have any place at a workplace. Your words don’t make you an asshole.
  3. “On an airplane, if my seatmate is hogging the armrest or being too chatty, I grab the barf bag.” – Don’t be an asshole to your fellow passengers on an airplane. And let’s stop calling it an airplane –...

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Substack’s not scaming, but for sure it’s being dishonest

After Annalee Newitz original post, many are writing a lot about how Substack has been scamming writers who are spending time on their platform. The complaint is that the team behind Substack has promised the writers that their platform will make newsletter writing lucrative for all the writers. The scam, according to many writers, is Substack is not treating all writers equals. Here’s Annalee.

But, you might be saying, Substack mostly publishes tons of people who are not staff writers. Look at the thousands of newsletters on the site that are clearly not written by staff! No, it does not matter that technically anyone can jump on Substack and get paid by subscribers. Technically anyone can sing on the street corner and get paid by passerby, but that doesn’t mean they are on a level playing field with Megan Thee Stallion.

I agree, Substack is being dishonest, but not by giving special...

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No, You Can’t Own Your Computer

I want a computer that I own completely. I want a computer that does what I want it to do, not one that has a hidden agenda programmed into it at the factory. And, I want to have these capabilities regardless of what anyone has done to the Internet to prevent me from having them. I don’t want to be dependent on the whims of a government or the good will of a giant corporation.

Tie goes on to describe his ideal system and mulls over what he currently has to live with.

This made me think if such a system, or a group of systems for that matter - it’s not just a computer that Tie is talking about here - can actually exist. There’s no incentive for any organization, profit or non-profit, to build such a system. It will not be of interest for an everyday consumer, it would be too dull for him. He would, unmindful of the harms, load it with the unnecessary bloat, ruining the whole promise...

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We humans are back & so are emission levels

Global CO2 emissions came roaring back as pandemic-induced restrictions loosened (…) The rebound in emissions was driven by major economies including China, India, and Brazil. China saw a 0.8 percent increase in carbon dioxide emissions overall last year, according to the IEA. Another analysis this week by the UK-based Carbon Brief website found that the country’s emissions rose even more. They found that China’s emissions were up 1.5 percent in 2020 compared to 2019 and that the boost was mostly due to a push to jump-start its pandemic-slowed economy with highly polluting industries like construction and heavy manufacturing.

We don’t learn much, do we? We haven’t yet got our lives back from the clutches of the pandemic – it still has its hold over our throats. Sure, we have vaccines now and most countries have started vaccinated the majority of their most vulnerable population. But we...

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FLoC by Google - A Short Story

Once upon a time, there was a village buzzing with happy lives. They used to visit their neighbours, interact with them. They used to have fun in their own little way. Each family was unique, and their likings were different.

Google is leading the charge to replace third-party cookies with a new suite of technologies to target ads on the Web.

One fine day, the villagers started seeing small pandals set up at the outer rim of the village. They had a few attractive, but unnecessary items on display, being distributed either free or dirt cheap. Most villagers ignored these new structures as they looked harmless – they were far away and not visible unless you scoured for them.

However, soon the village was full of ugly advertisements of varying sizes and colours for items they had no interest in. The villagers hated the situations; fretful murmurs were heard across every nook and cranny.


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