Why I won’t fill out any more “doodles”

Doodle is an “easy scheduling” web tool that fits the needs of modern, busy, internet-connected types who don’t share schedules but need to find times to meet up for a work or social activity. Any person can create a poll that gives a group options as to when an event can take place in the future.  Then, by disclosing their availability, it becomes clear what times the most people are available, so the event can be scheduled.

Doodle achieves a certain ideal in the world of today – it fits perfectly with our busy yet flexible schedules, it gathers exactly the information we need and nothing more, it’s a kind of parato-optimal market solution for your time.

However, doodle has a pernicious effect on the meaning of the events that it helps schedule. By making it on-the-fly, which means non-repetitive scheduling, so easy, we no longer need to commit to weekly repetitive patterns. Instead of a weekly group meeting, say on Wednesday at 8pm, the meeting can be planned weekly to fit at the ideal time for everyone in the group, even if such a meeting happens every week. This is the casualization of events which otherwise would have gained a weight, a gravity that comes from repeating a practice in a cycle of time. Monday choir practice, thursday PTA meeting, can you imagine the way the meanings of such events would change if they were re-scheduled every week?

Our weeks, our cycles of time take on significance by, among other things, the things we do in them repetitively. This is why a Thursday afternoon has a certain feeling to it, why we might feel obligated to socialize or “have fun” on a Friday or Saturday night, and why Monday is the unofficial start to the week – despite the fact calendars tend to imply that the week starts on Sunday. By hunting for those empty spaces, and being so good at it, doodle moves us towards a world where our schedules have less and less repetition, where we can less so count on the familiarity of our own lives.

If we need to schedule important events that occur most every week by a Doodle poll, because we can’t find time in our schedules to give the event a repetitive, weekly time, we might ask ourselves if we are too busy? Which means, are we committed to too many projects, are we involved in too many involvements? Our involvements take time, but they should also give us time, in the sense of give us meaningful time, time activity which satisfies us, which grounds us, and which gives the time around it an aura of meaning too. If our involvements are becoming schizophrenic, if we are mere task-oriented, focussed on the completion of imagined goals and therefore lose track of time as not merely a resource but also the time of our lives, who has time become? Or rather, who have we become, such that time governs us, rather than we give meaning to time.

So, when I say I won’t fill out a doodle poll, I don’t literally mean that I won’t fill out a single doodle poll for the rest of my life. But what I do mean is that I will resist the causalization of events, the last-minute-ification of what ought to be planned carefully out in advance. It may be the case that this resistance will result in losing-track of some otherwise completable tasks, but this is better than losing track of ourselves, of not taking care of our own time, of being attentive to the meaning of our time. And when we take care of our time, we take care of ourselves.


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