Junk food

I like junk food, and will – from time to time – defend its existence. My defense is this: junk food isn’t 100% bad, for if it were, it wouldn’t exist. People wouldn’t want it.

Junk food isn’t globally bad – it’s bad for you (it will kill you over time), but it tastes good. It doesn’t taste good in the same way good food tastes good. An arugula salad from Blue Plate is good in a way that is different than the way a McD french fry is good. But that junk food definitely tastes good for a real definition of the term “good.”

Otherwise, it wouldn’t exist.

Junk food’s “goodness profile” over time goes something like this: it is good in the moment while you are eating it, but bad almost immediately afterward. You feel sick, fat, gross, guilty.

Healthy eaters are able to train themselves to experience that badness before they make the choice to eat the french fry, and may even experience its taste as a bad taste. (Addicted eaters experience that badness before they make the choice too, but choose to eat the food anyway. That pattern is probably true for all addiction behavior, I’d bet.)

I’ve found this junk food pattern persists across all sorts of human activities.

Writing crappy code even when you could do it right the first time is junk food coding. It feels good to see the software work but you will have to undo all the hax you committed getting there. That will feel bad.

Saying the nice thing instead of the true thing is junk food communication. It feels good to avoid conflict at the time, but you will have to undo the false understanding you’ve created between you and the person you are talking to. That will be bad.

Junk food behavior will kill your company. Here’s the nice thing about junk food behavior though – you know you are engaging in it at the time, and you can correct it. It takes discipline, but it doesn’t take a lot of analysis and self observation. You know it when you are doing it.

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