Wednesday, July 24, 2024
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Give yourself a day to tackle all your recommendation and subscription guilt


Hand made up of thousands of digital cubes, giving a thumbs up

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We’re heading into summer, a time when some people get a few half or whole days off from work. These can’t all be vacations, and there’s only so much shopping, golfing, or streaming one can do. A few of these times off are even unexpected, such that people with kids might even have some rare time to themselves.

I have a suggestion for some part of one of these days: Declare a Tech Guilt Absolution Day. Sit down, gather up the little computer and phone stuff you love that more people should know about, or free things totally worth a few bucks, and blitz through ratings, reviews, and donations.

Note that I am using the term “guilt,” not “shame.” I do not believe any modern human should feel bad about themselves for all the things they have failed to like, rate, and subscribe to. The modern ecosystems of useful little applications, games, podcasts, YouTube videos, newsletters, and the like demand far more secondary engagement than anyone can manage. Even if you purchase something or subscribe, the creators you appreciate, swimming upstream in the torrential rapids of the attention economy, can always use some attention. So I suggest we triage as best we can.

When you’ve got some time to yourself coming up, mark the Tech Guilt Absolution Day (or just Tech Guilt Day, if you realize it never ends) on your calendar. Sit down and, with the freshest mind you can manage (caffeinated, in many cases), start out with a blank piece of paper, word document, or whatever you use. Poll your brain about the little phone, computer, and email things you like and, without even looking, know could use a little boost. This could be a one-time donation, a Patreon or newsletter subscription, writing out a couple nice sentiments about something more people should know about, or taking the 30 seconds to log in and rate something thumbs-up or five stars.

Turning Hulu into ad-free podcasts

Subscription fatigue is real, and little donations add up, so go ahead and make a budget for this exercise. You might consider checking your existing subscriptions and cycling the money from cancelling one of them into something more relevant. I personally felt great turning the rest of the year’s Hulu subscription into Patreon dollars for my favorite podcast about engineering disasters.

I’ve been doing my own Tech Guilt Day every year or so for the past few years, inspired in part by Ron Lieber’s “Financial Health Day.” Sometimes it’s just 30 minutes of casual ratings clicks and PayPal donations on a half-day. Sometimes I sit down and do the real work of installing Apple’s own Podcasts app, just to give my favorite dog-walk distraction vendors the best possible visibility boost. I’ve always been glad I did it. I’ll often realize how great the ad-free version of something I like is, or rediscover a lost treasure, like a Steam game with some cool new updates (or a dignified ending).

Setting aside and labeling this stretch of one day, however long it is, to do the unpaid labor so many good things must ask of us has made a seemingly impossible task feel more manageable to me. It may do the same for you. Feel free to recommend some other categories of easily neglected creator help in the comments (or the forums, available, of course, to subscribers).



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