2371: Election Screen Time

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Election Screen Time
Feels like I picked a bad year to try to start having a healthy relationship with political news.
Title text: Feels like I picked a bad year to try to start having a healthy relationship with political news.


Cueball has an app on his phone which informs him of the time spent using it for various purposes. These are typically used to monitor one's own, or maybe one's teenage child's, (over)use of games, social media apps, general browsers, etc., and highlight any surprising issues. It is unclear whether this is: a specific analyser, that somehow identifies just this narrow subset of uses; a more general app, currently filtered to give information on just these two politics-related interactions via some complex heuristic method; or he actually does nothing but these two classifiable things, on this particular device.

Whichever is the case, it is currently displaying and comparing just two curiously detailed statistics - the time used staying informed about politics, and the time he has spent reading election updates - and nothing else. The total time recorded would be a large slice of someone's typical day, if the report is for the last 24 hours, but is overwhelmingly dominated by the latter activity whatever the duration covered.

The comic reflects that most people spend a lot of time consuming news speculating about who will win the upcoming election, even though reading these "updates" will have no impact on the election because people are unlikely to change their minds because of them. People spend very little time researching information that will allow them to make informed decisions about voting, which is an important civic duty. In addition, a recent article in The Atlantic said that "Reading Too Much Political News Is Bad for Your Well-Being".

The title text suggests regret about the time spent consuming political news, possibly reflecting the sentiment that the 2020 United States presidential election has been especially divisive with little productive dialogue. The title text might also be a reference to the movie Airplane! (directly referencing the 1957 movie Zero Hour!) where one of the most popular gags is when Steve McCroskey first says "Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking", then "Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines", "Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue" and so on.

Randall has also mentioned "screen time apps" in 2223: Screen Time. Randall has previously remarked on poor time allocation in 1445: Efficiency, in which he admits that he reduces his overall efficiency by spending too much time figuring out which approach to a problem was more efficient.

In 2282: Coronavirus Worries, he indicated that worrying about other people's actions is much less healthy (although unfortunately more common) than looking after your own health.


[Cueball is looking at his phone screen time report. The screen appears above his head]

Screen Time Report

Staying informed about politics like a good civic-minded person
[tiny blue bar] 26m
Reading election updates that won't affect your actions in any way but slightly improve your knowledge about what's going to happen in a few weeks
[really extremely long blue bar-chart bar] 9h14m

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I think there should be a screen time category - there seems to be a lot of comics with this trend -Donthaveusernametalk

K I did-Donthaveusernametalk

The title text seems like a reference to the movie Airplane! Barmar (talk) 00:19, 13 October 2020 (UTC)

I'm not finding the connection, although I'm not familiar with the movie. Could you please explain? Nk1406 (talk) 02:13, 13 October 2020 (UTC)
”I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue”


Reminding people to sign their posts: 25h 58m Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 08:39, 13 October 2020 (UTC)

It's probably worth knowing about the fake collecting boxes for ballots. Robert Carnegie [email protected] 09:56, 13 October 2020 (UTC)

You're referring to the California Republicans' "unofficial ballot boxes"? Worth knowing about, yes, though I don't see any particular relevance to the comic. BunsenH (talk) 15:33, 13 October 2020 (UTC)
I suspect this is a direct response to the comic. With all the confusing illegal stuff happening, voters need to focus a little extra on the news, so they don't (for example) accidentally drop their ballot into a decoy ballot box labeled as "official" -- 16:48, 17 October 2020 (UTC)

Seems to me that the transcript should be text-only: "[Short blue bar-chart bar]", or something like that, rather than an actual graphic bar. No? BunsenH (talk) 15:02, 13 October 2020 (UTC)

Agreed. Text describing their relative size would be good too.
ProphetZarquon (talk) 17:48, 13 October 2020 (UTC)

Write in the candidate you want. That is all. ProphetZarquon (talk) 17:48, 13 October 2020 (UTC)

Coincidentally, or maybe not, https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/salt Cellocgw (talk) 11:34, 14 October 2020 (UTC)