Burnin

Of all the talk of burnout in the technology industry, sometimes I feel like the opposite is a more apt descriptor:

With phosphor-based electronic displays (for example CRT-type computer monitors or plasma displays), non-uniform use of pixels, such as prolonged display of non-moving images (text or graphics), gaming, or certain broadcasts with tickers and flags, can create a permanent ghost-like image of these objects or otherwise degrade image quality.

The length of time required for noticeable screen burn to develop varies due to many factors, ranging from the quality of the phosphors employed, to the degree of non-uniformity of sub-pixel usage. It can take as little as only a few weeks for noticeable ghosting to set in, especially if the screen displays a certain image (example: a menu bar at the top or bottom of the screen) constantly, and displays it continually over time

The days where I finish exhausted and braindead scare me much less than the days where I walk away from the computer and still feel tethered, as if even if I go on a run I am faintly outlined with a phosphorescent glow.

The days where by 5pm I can’t bear the thought of working any further scare me much less than the days where by 5pm I can’t stop thinking about work.

Whenever I have one of those days, I know I need to dial it back: to switch the proverbial channel, to avoid burn-in.

I stop working on side projects; I take days off; I go on runs and find new sandwich shops. I draw long breaths and warm baths. I make cocktails and sit as far away from my computer as possible.

These days are thankfully rare, but I think the only intelligent thing to do is to heed them as warning signs and take the right precautions. It’s not worth trying to play through the pain.

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Justin Duke is a writer and developer in Seattle.
He likes good, practical things.
(And writing in the third person, I guess.)


@justinmduke
me@jmduke.com