Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

16 Feb 2013, 18:01 p.m.


Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2013 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

There are so many things I ought to be doing, and instead I spent several hours today editing Wikipedia and Wikivoyage, reviewing new articles, and uploading photos or improving captions on Wikimedia Commons.

It makes me think of that panel I was on, a million years ago, about guilty pleasures, back when I had the spare energy to go to non-work conferences. One thing I wish I'd thought of to say then: If it weren't possible to run away from "obligations" then they wouldn't be obligations, the kinds of responsibilities we encourage with norms and shaming and praise. They'd be facts like mitosis. The discourse around guilty pleasures is part of how we manage the pressure to fulfill our responsibilities to each other, a loophole that helps us avoid talking about unfair burdens.

You've heard that frontier thesis, that it's an important release valve to be able to go someplace no one knows you so you can reinvent yourself, the idea that right now is a significant historical aberration because your old identity will follow you wherever you go unless you engage in a coverup, that the defaults have flipped. The productivity frontier is somewhere in this danger zone as well, and I can see the temptation to Taylorize myself and those around me, and perhaps my workaholic ethic is so strong that even my guilty pleasure is reducing New Pages Feed backlog.