Hacker News Re-Imagined

Ask HN: When we note down cool things for later, why do they feel boring?

a.k.a. why do we never get around to plan-to-watch/plan-to-read lists, even though we care about them enough to meticulously earmark them for later?

When I encounter interesting things but can't dive into them at that time, I try to list them down or organize them together so that I don't forget about them and so that I can come back to them later. But regularly, the exact opposite happens - I never open these lists and they are not attractive to me at all.

Some recent examples: 1. I had added many interesting articles to pocket, and meticulously tagged them by category. But I never opened Pocket since.

2. I note down hundred of exciting ideas on Notion. Yet I literally never feel like rereading any of them.

3. I've listed down the GOAT and the most-appealing-to-me pieces of media, among movies, anime, games, books etc. But I never feel like going back to these lists and picking something from them.

So can please someone tell me what's going on here? Is it that this save-for-later behaviour is killing the excitement that a new thing brings? I'm puzzled why I don't like picking up self-curated media. If I had encountered that thing by itself (i.e. not from a self-curated list) and started it at that moment, I think I would've enjoyed it enthusiastically. Yet my enthusiasm dies when I save that thing for later.

Do you experience this too? What could be going on here?

  • 34 points
  • 3 days ago

  • @loquor
  • Created a post

Ask HN: When we note down cool things for later, why do they feel boring?


@FractalHQ 2 days

Replying to @loquor 🎙

Novelty releases dopamine but diminishes exponentially. Things are only novel once, and briefly!

Reply


@surfpel 3 days

Replying to @loquor 🎙

I think oftentimes the excitement doesn't come from the idea itself but rather the act coming up with ideas and exploring new things. ie: The topic was never really that interesting, but the curious process of discovery and exploration was.

Reply


@sysadm1n 2 days

Replying to @loquor 🎙

It's worth making a pact with yourself that you will revisit bookmarks and make use of them. I call them 'actionable items'. They're things you must take action on. I know the feeling of hoarding away knowledge bases and not acting, but you have to be accountable to yourself. You must act on them, because you said you would.

Reply


@cbanek 3 days

Replying to @loquor 🎙

I love this question. I experience this too. I don't know why it happens, but it makes me think of my therapist asking me to journal things. Writing my feelings out helps to really get them out of my head. I feel like that's a positive outcome of the same thing that happens. There's also the interesting studies that have shown that if you write something down, you're more likely to forget it, knowing that you've written it down somewhere else.

Part of it might be the newness has worn off, and newness itself is a vibe, an energy, and you have that extra inertia I think.

Reply


@Octopodes 2 days

Replying to @loquor 🎙

I sure do! I have hundreds of saved pocket articles that I'm too impatient to devote 20 minutes to reading. It's far more immediately gratifying to skim something for a minute and move on to the next factlet.

Reply


@marcusverus 3 days

Replying to @loquor 🎙

The interest you feel when in a given option is relative to the interest you have in your other options. When browsing HN at work, lots of articles seem interesting—-because the immediate alternatives (like going back to work) aren’t that great. Since the articles are relatively interesting, you think “I’ll save these for later, when I have more time!”, not realizing that when you have more time, you also have more immediate alternatives, which quickly render the articles relatively uninteresting.

Reply


@yololol 3 days

Replying to @loquor 🎙

It happens to me as well. All the time. My explanation is that the brain feels rewarded when discovering a new interesting article. And in the age of information the addiction is so high, that when you get back to old articles, the brain does not get the high, so instead it seeks its dose back to the front page of HN. And this goes on and on. We are the mice on the information treadmill.

Reply


@ZeroGravitas 3 days

Replying to @loquor 🎙

I think it's just a UI issue.

I've done what you've described, but I've also bought books/albums/movies based on recomendations or whims, not got around to reading/watching them for years, stumbled across them and loved them.

At that point I'm glad for my foresight. I just need to have a range of good stuff easily available when I'm looking for something so I can pick what attracts me in that moment.

Reply


@randomluck040 3 days

Replying to @loquor 🎙

Just like clicking away with a digital camera, bookmarking things don't really come at a cost.

I definitely experience this as well. I think for me personally it's a) an inflow control issue (no real "quality assurance") and b) due to momentary excitement or a specific mood.

It might help to write a note instead of just bookmarking. While bookmarking is free, writing a note is not. You have to think about two sentences that describe what's behind the bookmark.

Outside of that I've decided that I want to have some "static" bookmark folders (with resources like internet shops that I've found with nice things which I check before buying something) as well as a "daily" folder with only a handful sites (e.g. the public domain review or blogs and news sites that I think are worth looking at every once in a while). I have one called "temp" in which I bookmark everything that has a 50/50 chance of ever being read. Once in a while I open all tabs and check if there's something worthwhile, if not, it goes away.

I think it's fine putting movies and books into a list and not wanting to watch them the next time you want to watch something. However, especially with books, most of the time I get one from my list. I curate the books more and I think it's due to the commitment of hours of reading instead of watching a movie for 100 minutes or so.

Apparently "novelty" is a thing as well, just as you describe. It feels like getting "stale" when waiting in a list.

Hopefully there is someone that maybe read a book about the topic and can maybe recommend it and offer more profound insights.

Reply


@recvonline 3 days

Replying to @loquor 🎙

I personally came to the conclusion that when I save/curate/buy things I am “interested i “, I:

- Have in mind a person I might become once I read and do the things I saved for later.

- I think this thing I just saved or want to consume is profound and new.

What it really is:

- Nothing is changing who I am.

- The book or website or blog post or Podcast episode is actually not that profound and mind bending but just a random person with 5k hours more experience in the field then I have, but still doesn’t know what’s going on.

- Everything is more of the same. The TV show is slighlty different but still is nothing completely new, the blog post about technology A is more of the same then the others years ago.

Mind bending, interesting stuff is created rarely and without much hype and found not really easily online. Nothing easily stored, bookmarked or downloaded is changing you, your environment or your life in a profound way.

But when I scroll through HN, Twitter etc and save an interesting article, my brain goes: “That’s it, that’s the content which finally explains why I feel this way and opens new possibilities and changes my day-to-day life”

Reply


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