barren field of sunflower seeds

Hey, you -- yeah, with the ADHD and the cool projects! You know how all of those projects are, like, 80% done? And how you can't figure out how to get them over the line? And how frustrating that is? The following thread contains an infohazard, proceed at your peril! ;)

I am going to share with you the framing that allowed me to finally make sense of this. As I understand it, ADHD is characterized at least in part (and someone please bounce some science off this?) by a specific difference in the dopamine release process.

(All of this stuff is to my knowledge theoretical, and probably more complex than I'm making it sound, but the model that helped me is this:) Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that allows you to feel a sense of reward, satisfaction, well-being, etc. It motivates people.

For people who do not have ADHD, dopamine is released at the moment a goal is accomplished. "Doing the thing" is intrinsically motivating for them, in a fundamental way. It provides them with a form of well-being that is as natural to them as oxygen. Think about that.

But. For people who do have ADHD things are a bit more complicated. There are various ways to frame this argument, but the one that I tend to prefer is just: we seem to get dopamine from satisfying curiosity rather than completing goals. Think about that.

Depending on which kind of person you are, really think about what it would be like to be the other kind of person. If accomplishing goals brings you intrinsic satisfaction, imagine what life would be like without that. What would you do? Why?

Now, everyone who has ever rolled your eyes at the idea that ADHD is a disability, ask yourself this: Have you ever once thought about what it would feel like -- really feel like, subjectively, in your body, in your qualia -- to be motivated by curiosity over completion?

Modern life consists of tasks. A never-ending series of clearly-defined simple-to-achieve Things. To. Do. Not problems to solve, questions to answer, ideas to have, dances to learn, or universes to imagine. Tasks. To complete.

It's not simple to pay a bill. It's not simple to call a support line. It's not simple to mail something to something. It's not simple to do any of the billion simple things we are each expected to do every day. And if you have ADHD, there is no reward. Only lack of punishment.

Think about that. ADHD people who heal their trauma and their relationship to panic and anxiety and shame suddenly find themselves unable to do their jobs or focus on their responsibilities. Why? Because fear was all that was motivating them. They have to relearn how to want.

And the worst part is that not only do you spend all of your time doing this endless series of tasks. The worst part is the opportunity cost. All of the things you don't get to learn, the questions you don't get to ask, the thoughts you don't get to think.

So, I told y'all that there was an infohazard in this thread, and it's this. Let's go back to that trail of half-finished art projects. Do you know why you didn't finish them? Because there's nothing more there for you to learn. That's it. Why would you finish them?

Your projects are your way of asking the universe a question, and then digging and digging and digging until the universe answers. You are motivated by curiosity, and that is a blessed gift, not a source of shame. Your unfinished work is the testament to your growth.

2:42 AM · Jun 7, 2023

H.M. Khan

I'm not sure if it's by design or if there are neurodivergent folks in @browsercompany's team but I'm finding @arcinternet to be REALLY great as someone with ADHD. Here's why:

I struggle w/ focus, like all ADHDers do. When it comes to browsing, what this means is my mind wanders down a rabbit hole, I open several tabs (sometimes several windows), hoard those tabs for days, eventually get overwhelmed, close everything for clarity, then feel bummed out.

Arc helps me out with this with the way it approaches tabs. Having tabs auto-archive forces me to be more intentional with what tabs I'm opening, and which I'm pinning or adding to the favourites. The spotlight style tab bar is so fast that it makes re-finding things a breeze.

Before I used Arc, I'd spread my digital life over multiple browsers and profiles. So I'd use Firefox for my personal use, and then multiple Chrome profiles for my work and volunteer since they'd all be integrated into the G Suite system. I did this because I found having

overlapping passwords, bookmarks, histories, and cookies to be overwhelming and messy. Having the ability to separate spaces with unique profiles, appearances, their own separate data AND being easily able to migrate this data from my prev. browsers is a godsend.

What this means is that I'm easily able to separate my personal, work, volunteering, and school life and its digital extensions in a UI that's extremely pleasing (which helps me have visual clarity + keeps me engaged) and delineated clearly.

This + the two finger swipe means there's no friction in switching around profiles, while maintaining mental boundaries. Coupled w/ Focus Mode and the UI's emphasis on being attentive to one tab at a time, these features work really well with ADHD management strategies like

time blocking and scheduling, so I can focus on one task/tab at a time, within one profile, that corresponds to the time I've carved out for work and play. Great work!

– brett goldstein

Another happy ADHD user, but didn't connect the dots you've connected yet -- I need to do more to share Arc with my coaching clients and @neurodiversesquad friends now that you are bringing this to my attention too!
– Nathan Sudds

I'm always scared of losing tabs that I need. I wish there was a way to save "sessions" with a group of tabs that you can open later. Do you struggle with the same thing? cc: @joshm if you can make this happen I'd be ever grateful!
– David Mann

Ah! Great idea - we'll share this with the team
– Arc Support

100% yes, everything in this thread is true. @joshm you should see this thread if you haven't.
– Alexander H. Black

Another happy adhd arc user here. Ditto to everything you said!
– Kenny

Absolutely by design. They have done a fantastic job of reimagining how and why we use the browser. Check out their YouTube channel for more about the intentionality behind it. Also, @joshm’s interview on @lennysan’s podcast.
– Shaun Nestor

ADHD arc user here. It’s perfect, I love it, my focus and productivity are so hugely improved
– Serena Nathan

I can't wait for them to get it to windows soon enough
– Aryvd

That’s super interesting, I’m having the same problems with all other browsers… will give Arc a second try!
– Leonie Engel

8:41 PM · Apr 24, 2023