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Where do you get your novelty fix?

Where do you get your novelty fix?

We love novelty. Just the fact that something is new is enough to catch our attention.

On a neurological level, new things release dopamine which makes us interested.

That's the underlying mechanism, but the more interesting question is:

Where do you get your novelty fix?

The Internet is full of it. More new content is uploaded every day, making it possible to experience novelty 24/7. But is that good for us?

Hardly. What's found on TikTok, IG Reels, or YouTube videos is free floating novelty, random novelty. It's baseless, in the sense that it most often doesn't require skill or intellect to comprehend, only rudimentary understanding of the language (sometimes).

The trouble with this kind of novelty is that it's ultimately not fulfilling, empty. While it engages the right evolutionary circuit, it does it in a highly artificial way. It's like consuming purified caffeine in pill form all day long, without the taste of coffee or tea, without the conversation that may accompany such a cup, without the ritual of pausing and taking that first sip.

This is shallow novelty.

Yet, to stretch the analogy further, the caffeine pill is right in front of us and can be consumed in seconds, while the cup of coffee we'd have to go make in the kitchen and it might take 15 minutes. In other words, the shallow novelty is so easy to access that we rarely question it. You reach for your phone, and tap, and there it is, your fix of novelty irrelevant to your own life. By default, we do what's easy. It's too easy to go for shallow novelty, and so we do it more, despite the emptiness we might feel afterwards.

Hunt for deep novelty

While shallow novelty is free-floating, deep novelty is bound. It's bound to our hobbies, to our professional pursuits, to our relationships. It's the novelty of discovering a new way to brew coffee, a new way to write code, a new shared interest in a relationship.

That kind of novelty is meaningful. It makes our lives richer and (often in a professional setting) it means learning and making meaningful progress.

That's the novelty we're looking for. It's relevant to our lives and opens doors to different ways of seeing or dealing with reality. It's the good cup of coffee, not the purified pill.

The thing is, deep novelty you have to hunt for. Most times you won't find it in a social media feed. And even if you do, it's too easy to scroll past it.

Deep novelty hides in experiences, in books, in good conversations. It takes effort to get to, but it makes it worth it.

So, recognizing our innate need for novelty, the question is:

Where will you get your next novelty fix?