Kin Lane

Behavioral Surplus Extraction Fatigue

I just hit the point in my day where I begin suffering from behavioral surplus extraction fatigue. It is that point when you are clicking for things online after you’ve long completed any meaningful work or doing anything that is actually delivering value, but yet you are still clicking away on things, stubbornly refusing to close the laptop and do something else. When I reach this point I always have a certain feeling in my head, which is almost like a headache, but it is more like a low-grade digital vacuum is running, sucking on my brain, my body, and my soul. In the past, I often push through this feeling, drink a little more wine and push on through, with no real questioning of whether I should still be online or not.

It is getting easier for me to identify behavioral surplus extraction fatigue these days. As soon as I feel it, I shut my laptop, pick up a book, engage in a conversation with a real human being, or find some other activity–like going for a walk. I’ve come to recognize that in these moments, I’m not doing anything of value for my physical or digital self, that I”m merely being led by a machine that is trying to extract surplus data from my daily behavior. Looking for one more keyword, phrase, view, click, location, or other meaningful data point that will signal I’m on the road to making an online or offline purchase in the near future. Harvesting surplus data from my everyday behavior, trying to connect the dots and predict my next steps.

The machine wants me to stay up late, mindlessly clicking on news, shares, videos, until something of value is mined. My brain has long been done with being interested in online things, but that impulse and desire to continue clicking is still there. My mind will easily believe there is some joy, something meaningful right around the corner, beyond this next click, or after this next video watch. There is some fulfillment awaiting me. I know there isn’t. However, the machine lures me onward, flashing me an image, rolling a video past me with captions, showing me what my friends just did, fishing for my next move. Not any move, but the one that will predict where I will eat tomorrow for lunch, or where I will go shopping after work, or maybe make that next that next big online purchase.

For the last twenty years I have seen the web as a stream of information, energy, and consciousness flowing in my direction. Increasingly I’m seeing it as a flow of information, energy, and behavioral surplus from me to the cloud. Behavioral surplus extraction fatigue is when I’ve reached my limit with this reality each day. I don’t have anything left to give. Your digital psychological carrots are not working on me anymore. You can’t extract no more. With some time away, I’ll replenish, and you can continue extracting tomorrow. Hopefully I will get some meaningful work done while I’m online, and minimize my mobile usage enough that my return on investment for my daily use of the web outweighs the negative effects on my existence. Meaning, I am hoping I get something done that will contribute to me paying my bills, communicating with friends, family, and people I work with, amidst all the clamoring for the data exhaust I produce as a by-product of being Kin Lane each day.

There are a couple of important points for me here. One, being able to recognize when I’m getting fatigued, and I get offline to read a book or go for a walk. Two, that I work to minimize the noise, and the number of hooks in me, so that I can maximize my digital time, and enjoy a bigger return on my investment from being online. I can’t stay offline, but I can work to ensure the time I spend online is meaningful, and has an impact on my real life. Acknowledging that there is always someone extracting something from me each and every second I’m on my laptop, or my mobile phone, but ensuring I’m minimizing the strength of the vacuum sucking my bits into the cloud, while I am also doing the digital things, producing the digital content, images, and video I need to perform as Kin Lane, API Evangelist, or any other digital part I am playing in this digital theater.