More Thoughts on Opportunity Cost

Last night’s post on opportunity cost missed the point. Technology doesn’t create or increase opportunity cost. Our technology makes us hyperaware of opportunity costs in real time.

Last night’s post dwelt a bit too much on the fear of missing out on social things — trip to the beach, dinner at a restaurant. Guess I was feeling a bit sorry for myself. For me, this isn’t about social anxiety or jealousy. It is about how I manage the information flood.

Examples:

  • every minute spent on Facebook on my smartphone while standing in a room with people is a moment not spent talking to people standing with me
  • following comments and links of professional interest on Twitter limits the time I can spend doing the same on RSS feeds, Zite and Scoop.it.
  • writing a blog post means fewer minutes reading that great book
  • catching up on email during a few unbusy moments means having fewer unbusy moments to reflect and see what’s happening around me

You get the idea. The point isn’t that these things are bad. The point is that it is getting more difficult to decide how to spend/not spend my time. I can’t escape the choices.

The choices aren’t new. They have always been with us. Now, we get to see opportunity cost up front. It isn’t so invisible. That is why so many people, self included, find the Social Media/Information Age a bit overwhelming and anxiety-inducing. I haven’t yet mastered the skill of disciplined focus. I haven’t yet mastered the skill of opportunity selection.

These are the skills we need to survive and succeed.

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