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Notifications - the new nicotine

Are notifications psychologically invasive?

That's a pretty strong phrase. Makes it sound like notifications are some kind of serial killer in a horror movie or something.

But I think there's a lot of truth to that statement. I have this phrase that I use - notifications are the new nicotine.

I'm a real big fan of turning off notifications for lots of stuff - email, text messages, slack, etc.

I saw a tweet recently that expressed this really well by @karpathy:

"Notifications. Masquerading as tiny and helpful but in reality psychologically invasive and damaging to the brain - interrupting complex thought, forcing (expensive, taxing) context switch, spiking dopamine, making thought reactive instead of proactive."

"Psychologically invasive" is such a strong phrase - but I actually do think they invade your psychology and hijack your brain.

They limit your ability to focus on important work. I think there is a time and a place for notifications but I think the default is that everything is on all the time, constant interruption.

To the extent we can limit those notifications, it will help our sanity and productivity.