“A habit (or wont) is a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur subconsciously.”
That is the defintion of the word “habit” that Wikipedia gives us. The first question this raises, at least for me personally is this: When was the last time somebody on this planet used the word “wont”? Seriously. I like to imagine that I have a solid grasp on the english language, but I have never in my life ever heard that word. To all native english speakers: Does anybody actually use that word?
The other thing, the main point I want to highlight, is the second part of this definition: habits “occur subconsciously”.
Building negative surfing habits is easy as (probably) all of you know. It only takes a few days for us to type “Reddit,com” or “YouTube,com” into our browser without thinking about it. Visiting these sites becomes a habit. Something that I didn’t know was possible, is that we might try to act on digital habits in the real world.
Here’s what recently happened to me:
Whenever I take notes for my assignments or lectures, I use an iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil. It’s incredibly easy to use and allows you to make edits wherever and whenever you want. Because I’m a perfectionist when it comes to the notes I take for my classes, I use the editing features of my note-taking app a lot; the “undo”-button in the top-left corner is a function that get’s particularly abused by me.
So, one of my habits is that whenever I make a small mistake or write something that I’m not happy about, I press the “undo”-button in the top-left corner.
Two days ago, when I was at home, I remembered that something that I needed to do so I wanted to write it on my whiteboard, to make sure I wouldn’t forget it. When I actually wrote it down I wanted to underline it because it was important. So I tried to underline it, which produced the single worst attempt at a straight line ever. Because I’m picky when it comes to small stuff like that I wanted to undo that line. So I moves my hand to the top left of my whiteboard and… wait, what the fuck am I doing?
At first, I couldn’t fucking believe it. I actually, legitimately, I swear to god, moved my hand to the top left of my whiteboard to undo the awful “straight” line I just wrote down. I was shocked for a moment. “Did I really just try to do that?”
I never thought this would or even could actually happen. My brain tried to follow a purely digital habit in the real world.
That got me thinking a lot about our established digital habits. And the more I thought about it, the more “resonable” my behaviour seemed.
For the last 12 months, 99.9% of handwritten notes/documents/whatever that I wrote were on my iPad which has the aforementioned “undo”-button. So if that’s the only way I actually “write”, then of course something like that would eventually happen. Because it’s a habit. Something that, as I’ve established at the beginning, “occur(s) subconsciously”. I don’t think about the process of writing, just as much as none of us think about the actual of walking or breathing. It’s just something we do. And if we change something in that routine, be it digital or physical, our brain will react to it and make that habit part of the routine/action; in digital world and the real world.
Sorry if this post kind of dragged on; I got carried away a bit
So, my question to all of you is this: Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever tried to act on a purely digital habit in the real world? And if you haven’t, do you think there’s anything in your life where something like this might happen?
(Just as a little side note: A day after I tried to “undo” the line on my whiteboard, I decided to use physical pen and paper again. I’m pretty sure I need it.)