The Scarcity Mindset: Reclaiming the value of our time

They say every unpleasant situation also has a positive side to it. It ends up teaching us new lessons. Like a silver lining for a cloud.

In the same manner, I learnt an interesting lesson recently.

I call my lesson ‘The Scarcity Mindset’.

It’s a key ingredient of our being and something we seem to have totally forgotten when it concerns our online personas.

This post is my tiny attempt to share what I learnt. I hope you see value in it too.

Here’s my story.

Twitter’s Ration Card:

Sometime last week my Twitter feed stopped refreshing. I wasn’t seeing any new tweets. And like many others I thought the site was going through some outage.

It was indeed an outage, we won’t go into the details of why that happened, but what was surprising was that this was no ordinary outage—Twitter intentionally rationed the number of tweets one could see on the platform.

So for a regular Twitter account the quota was set at 600 tweets per day. That meant once I saw 600 tweets I would stop seeing anymore tweets that day and had to wait till the next day to use my quota again.

This was a temporary action by Twitter, but this kind of rationing was unheard of before.

This situation created a scarcity of tweets to consume.

On the second day of this outage, armed with the knowledge of the limited quota I had, I approached Twitter cautiously.

  • I opened the app less often.

  • Consciously avoided the ‘For you’ tab which has an unlimited supply of new tweets shown by the Twitter algorithm.

  • I only opened my ‘Following’ tab which shows tweets from people that I chose to follow very carefully (by filtering and refining my experience as per my tastes) over the years—it was back to basics.

I was now conscious about what I was consuming on Twitter, how often and from whom. I found myself in a new zone of thinking. A new mindset. A mindset that I call ‘The Scarcity Mindset’.

The Scarcity Mindset:

This mindset makes us acutely aware of the limited resources available to us, and optimises our behaviour to match that reality.

The Scarcity Mindset makes us think more about value than volume

Surprisingly, once I started using Twitter this way, the same behaviour percolated to my usage of other apps. I noticed that I stopped opening Instagram and YouTube as often as I used to in the past. In effect I reduced my consumption of the unlimited supply of Reels and YouTube Shorts that used to be thrown at me.

I was suddenly extremely conscious of the way I spent time online.

And then, I started thinking when I actually got into this rabbit hole. A rabbit hole of mostly unnecessary and unlimited content—that led me into what I now recognise as ‘The Excess Mindset’.

The Excess Mindset:

This mindset started dominating our lives only recently though the seeds were laid much earlier.

It first happened with Google Search when it opened up the internet for us. Then came our smartphones and the associated apps, games and social networks.

But we were constrained by limited data plans and were cautious about our consumption.

We finally ended up with almost unlimited data plans and YouTube videos which would exhaust our data limits suddenly didn’t seem like a challenge anymore. OTT platforms came onto the scene and we got hooked without thinking of any data or time consequences.

The tipping point of unlimited excess however came when TikTok happened and the others started mimicking that behaviour.

TikTok…Tik Tok…Tik Tok…

For the first time ever we had an app that was dishing out unlimited content that we didn’t even know we wanted. Content in short bursts that held our attention for 1 min or less before moving on to the next video—and we loved it.

In effect we started consuming more but stopped retaining anything of significance or consequence. We started becoming zombies of the first order, not being able to focus or dwell on any particular item or issue for a prolonged period of time.

TikTokisation of content has the potential to lead to civilisational changes

We are now so used to this new normal that we don’t even realise how deep into the rabbit hole we’ve gone.

So when the rude shock came from Twitter with its rationing efforts—it was a blessing in disguise to recognise the value of ‘The Scarcity Mindset’.

And guess what?

This theory isn’t new to us. As humans we are naturally wired for ‘The Scarcity Mindset’.

Our Natural State:

Our desires and our ability to fulfil them is a function of the resources (often money) we have to spare.

The online space provides an escapist world of excess while the real world is built around the concept of scarcity. While it’s wonderful to be able to access the excess of everything online, it gets tricky if we expect our real life to treat us that way too, unless one is insanely rich.

We have just started in this path of online excesses but the day is not far, especially with future generations, when they expect reality to mimic the same—and then face a rude shock.

The Twitter outage proved to be a rude shock to me, to make me realise that the path of excess isn’t leading to anything productive but sucking me into a world of lazy escapist pleasure one clip or one post at a time. I am guessing it’s the same with you too.

It would be wonderful to have our real world mimic that world of abundance and excess, where we can spend time doing nothing, but we are a long way away from achieving that dream.

Maybe one day that will be our reality too, but till then we need to ensure there’s a healthy balance of ‘The Scarcity Mindset’ along with the excesses we are exposed to today.

Else we’ll just end up as creatures of mindless volume and of little value.

Think about it.

Till then, cheers!!!

Kartik Dayanand Boddapati

Also catch me on (I hope you’ll find more value than volume here): 

Kartik Dayanand on Facebook

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