We’re Optimizing Ourselves to Death

What happens when tech gives us more leisure time? We work.

Zander Nethercutt
Feb 20, 2019 · 11 min read
Illustration: Jutta Kuss/Getty Images

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Figure A: The prisoner’s dilemma. Image: Zander Nethercutt

In a hyperproductive, work-obsessed world, we’ve become acutely aware of any opportunity for optimization.


Credit: Nassim Nicholas Taleb
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Figure B: The millennial dilemma (leisure vs. work). Image: Zander Nethercutt

Only the most successful are free enough to spend their time finding better ways to spend their time.


It doesn’t feel like our lives are getting easier even when things have never been better.


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A Freshly box. Photo: Zander Nethercutt

We’re playing a rigged game, and every time we do, our pace of life accelerates, and the world moves faster.



Thanks to Ryan Wolpe

Zander Nethercutt

Written by

mistaking correlation for causation since '94; IYI, probably | 🧓Chicago, IL | ✍️. @ zandercutt.com | GET IN TOUCH: zander [at] zandercutt [dot] com

Zander Nethercutt

Written by

mistaking correlation for causation since '94; IYI, probably | 🧓Chicago, IL | ✍️. @ zandercutt.com | GET IN TOUCH: zander [at] zandercutt [dot] com

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About this Column

Buy Yourself

The internet is designed to give us what we want: validation, connection, thumbs-up, and animated hearts. But what are its hidden costs? In this column, Zander Nethercutt explores how tech platforms, advertising, and optimization influence who we are and how we interact.

The internet is designed to give us what we want: validation, connection, thumbs-up, and animated hearts. But what are its hidden costs? In this column, Zander Nethercutt explores how tech platforms, advertising, and optimization influence who we are and how we interact.

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