Scrolling with Regret: Decoding the Phenomenon of Regrettable Minutes

May 18, 2023

In an era where social media has become an integral part of our daily lives, it's worth examining its impact more critically. Not all time spent on these platforms is productive, enjoyable, or even necessary, thus leading to the concept I call 'Regrettable Minutes'. Regrettable Minutes signifies the percentage of time that users spend on social media platforms which they later regret. As our digital world becomes increasingly complex, this new way of quantifying our time is an essential tool in understanding how we interact with online content.

The concept of Regrettable Minutes exposes the paradoxical nature of our relationship with social media. On one hand, these platforms can be entertaining, informative, and foster connection. On the other hand, they can become an addictive time sink, resulting in hours spent scrolling through feeds, engaging in unproductive debates, or consuming content that leaves us feeling unfulfilled or stressed. These are the Regrettable Minutes, the time we wish we could take back, the time we wish we could have spent more wisely.

We live in a culture where the fear of missing out, or FOMO, propels us into endless scrolling, even when we recognize that it doesn't always add value to our lives. The nagging sense of regret that accompanies this realization is the essence of the Regrettable Minutes concept. Dark patterns are manipulative app design strategies used to steer users into taking unintended actions, often to the benefit of companies. When viewed through this lens, the dark patterns of most platforms are at odds with our well-being, cultivating habits that maximize engagement but inadvertently lead to time regretfully spent.

But here's where the dilemma arises. My startup Quasi, like many other startups, operates in a competitive landscape where user retention and engagement metrics are paramount to venture funding, survival, and growth. Investability in the content space is often directly tied to the 'stickiness' of the platform, and unfortunately, creating this stickiness historically has led to an increase in Regrettable Minutes. The challenge is to maintain user engagement, vital for any platform's growth, while simultaneously mitigating the cost of regretted time spent.

We at Quasi are building a new content app (called Fiction) aspiring to break this cycle. Our goal with Fiction is to redefine the content consumption experience and minimize, or even eliminate, Regrettable Minutes. Fiction customizes the content user’s experience, providing not just relevant, but also satisfying content, ensuring each minute spent on the platform is enjoyable and meaningful.

Moreover, we are taking a proactive approach to foster conscious consumption. We encourage users to read AI stories that they enjoy – without any intended dark patterns. If the content on Fiction isn’t good, users can leave the platform without guilt, and thus promoting healthier digital habits. This approach is a clear pivot from the norm, aligning user satisfaction with time well-spent rather than time simply spent.

Yet, the ultimate ambition of Quasi is indeed challenging. Bringing Regrettable Minutes down to zero signifies a seismic shift in how we engage with social media. Balancing engaging AI-generated content, which fuels Fiction’s investability, and the reduction of Regrettable Minutes is a tightrope walk.

Ultimately, the concept of Regrettable Minutes is not just an innovative metric for personal self-evaluation, but also poses a complex business dilemma for social media startups. Fiction feeds into our mission at Quasi to maximize good personalized content while minimizing Regrettable Minutes. It’s a daring endeavor that could redefine our social media experiences. If successful, it paves the way for a digital landscape where user engagement and satisfaction coexist without regret. It's a glimpse into a potential future where social media is not just inevitable but also emotionally rewarding and devoid of regret.

In the meantime, check out Fiction: