Moral Incontinence (akrasia) and Technology

To the tune of: Akrasia by James Falzone

I have a problem with tech – I’m morally incontinent (stop your giggling at the back, Jenkins!), in that my mind is slightly spoiled so it strongly seeks pleasure, even when I know that the good thing is something else. Plato called it ‘akrasia’, and it implies a lack of moral control.

This has been a problem since my university days, when I couldn’t be dragged away from my computer, by hell or high water. It used to sit on, in my room, 24 hours a day, normally with the door open so anyone who wanted to use it could come in. When it came to exam time, I would ceremoniously take the power cables and give them to a trustworthy friend (normally Philomena Keet) who hid them, sometimes for a week, sometimes for an entire three months (as during my final exams). That’s the only reason I passed my exams, a perverse strength in my recognition of my weakness.

Persuasively dissuading.

To counteract my enervated tendencies, which continue to this day, I’ve started using an application on Chrome called StayFocusd. It allows you a maximum of ten minutes a day across all the sites you flag as time-wasters, at which point it blocks you from accessing them for the rest of the day *and* flashes up a screen-wide question: “Shouldn’t you be working?” Simple, but highly effective – especially if you absentmindely wander to sites you shouldn’t when your computer has a ‘thinking moment’.

That’s not all that’s wonderful about it. It also prevents you altering it’s settings during your allocated time, by popping up several dialogues if you try and increase your allocation. Then, when time has expired completely, you can’t remove the blocked sites from the list, or access the options at all.

It’s only flaw – as a Chrome extension, it’s too easy to switch off entirely.

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