The Infinite Scroll

Everyone is busy all the time. We have made busyness performative, an impression of success and an entertainment for busy minds. Because our busy often involves others we have made busy virally engaging. We are trapped in an infinite scroll.

Scrolling for success

Infinite scroll has been a boon for engagement in social and other apps. Our desire for entertainment and activity is satisfied by an endless algorithm of content to consume and share. We can feel satisfied with our use of time even if nothing meaningful or even pleasurable happens. We are up to date. We are engaged.

Our workplaces are full of many similar infinite scrolls. Email is treated as work and email warriors spend hours battling towards inbox zero by turning each email into multiple more. Chat products now offer the same infinite scrolling options and lots of dopamine hits. You can consume hours pinging away in Microsoft Teams, Slack, Whatsapp and more.

This is a day when I covered no ground.

Just pushed and shuffled my papers around,

Margaret Fishback, Busy Day at the Office

Meeting calendars are another infinite scroll. I am busy if my day is full of meetings even if nothing is achieved in those meetings but more work and more emails. Seeing people doing their emails in meetings is the ultimate crossover. I’m so busy I don’t have time to do anything properly.

Conversations full of status updates are another infinite scroll. Look I am so busy I will tell you how good I am. We won’t actually interact, ask questions, solve problems, we will just report busyness. How many one-on-one meetings and team meetings are lost to the performance of busy.

As productive and as important as all this activity feels, like infinite scroll, it gets in the way of the real work and the real engagement. Customers are frustrated. So many people complain that the real work only happens when the meeting and emails stop in the evenings, at lunch or on weekends, taking away from valuable living time.

Turn off the email and the chat. Abandon inbox zero. Leave status to reports. Walk out of the meeting when the work is done. Pick up the phone and have a real conversation. Escape the infinite scroll.

To perform it repeatedly, to perform it each time

as if the first, to walk the dim corridor believing that

the conference it leads to might change everything,

to adhere to a possibility of reward, of betterment,

Timothy Donnelly, The Cloud Corporation

PS: I understand the irony of adding one more thing to your infinite scroll with this post. Now do the work.

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