In defense of push notifications

DISABLE ALL NOTIFICATIONS!” The rallying cry of the productive and enlightened. “Don’t be a slave to your phone!” I’m sure that helps lots of people, but it made me obsessive and miserable.

Without notifications, the only way to see if there’s a new message or email is to open the app. And I do that…so…much:

I opened Slack 167 times on my phone on a work day, which means it was all before 9:00am or after 5:00pm! That’s next level habitual destruction.

I didn’t get 167 messages outside of working hours. I maybe got 5, if that. With notifications turned on, I could have only checked those 5 times.

There’s a good bit of psychology behind this concept of fixed vs. variable reinforcement. Notifications are fixed reinforcement. Each time I get a notification, I know there’s something new. Without notifications, I’m stuck in the hairy world of variable reinforcement. Sometimes I’ll open the app and something new will be there, but usually not. Herein lies madness.

So, dearest notifications, I welcome you back with open arms.

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