Recently, a friend asked me this question: what about after Beeminder? While I am quite confident that Beeminder will be around for a good long while, I could not give a good answer to my friend on his hypothetical question.
In essence, I think he was asking whether I was simply using Beeminder as a crutch for the time being, which would rob me of the experience of building sustainable self-discipline that will be useful when there are no other devices/systems to keep me disciplined. If Beeminder and other similar tools ceased to exist tomorrow, what would you do? Are we using Beeminder because we acknowledge that a world without Beeminder would be much worse than a world with Beeminder due to things that are inherently part of being a human being?
I think this question, on a philosophical level, is asking whether Beeminder truly makes us better people or not. If we are inherently flawed on certain dimensions with no hope for redemption, then Beeminder is an acceptable crutch to help us succeed beyond our normal capacities. However, if it turns out to be better for us in the long run to build self-discipline outside of things like Beeminder, then Beeminder is hurting us in the long run.
[For reference, this is somewhat related to a previous post I made on “outsourcing self-discipline” several years ago.]