The Law of Triviality, also known as the Principle of Triviality, is the notion that the importance of a topic is inversely proportional to the amount of time spent on it. In other words, the more time and effort that is expended on a task, the less important it is perceived to be.
This principle was first proposed by British civil servant and economist C. Northcote Parkinson in his 1955 book Parkinson’s Law. Parkinson’s law is often applied to organizational behavior, especially in bureaucratic environments where time and resources are wasted on trivial matters while more important issues are neglected.
The law of triviality has also been used to explain why some people become obsessed with meaningless details while neglecting the big picture. This phenomenon is known as the “triviality trap” or “rabbit hole effect”.
The term “Law of Triviality” is sometimes used interchangeably with “Parkinson’s Law”. However, there is a subtle difference between the two concepts. Parkinson’s law states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. In other words, people will take as long as they can to complete a task, regardless of its importance. The law of triviality, on the other hand, is more concerned with the perception of importance. Just because a task takes a long time to complete does not necessarily mean that it is perceived as being important.
The law of triviality is based on the idea that people are more likely to pay attention to and invest time in things that they perceive as being important. This principle can be applied to a wide range of topics, including politics, business, and even personal relationships. For example, people are more likely to spend time discussing and debating the merits of a new piece of legislation than they are actually to read and understand the bill itself. Similarly, business executives may spend hours arguing over which color to paint the walls of their office or what type of coffee to serve at meetings while neglecting more important issues such as strategic planning or employee morale.
The law of triviality also has implications for our personal lives. We may find ourselves spending more time on trivial tasks such as sorting our clothes by color or alphabetizing our bookshelves than we do on important things like spending time with our family or exercising or developing a coherent philosophy of life.
The Law of Triviality is a useful tool for understanding why we often spend more time on unimportant tasks than we do on important ones. By recognizing the principle at work, we can make an effort to focus our attention on the things that truly matter and avoid getting bogged down in trivial pursuits.
The Law of Triviality can often lead to distractions from the things that are truly important. This is because we are more likely to pay attention to and invest time in things that we perceive as being important. Therefore, when we are faced with a task that does not seem important, we are more likely to be distracted by other things that seem to be more pressing.
The term “trap” refers to the fact that we can easily get lost in these distractions and lose sight of the things that are really important. The “rabbit hole effect” comes from the idea of Alice in Wonderland, where Alice falls down a rabbit hole and winds up in a strange and bizarre world. Similarly, when we get lost in distractions, we can find ourselves in a world where the trivial becomes seemingly more important than the important.
There is a linked issue here, with the idea that things that are more distracting and easily accessible, such as viral posts on social media, are seen as more true and relevant than more obscure and valuable information found in books. This is due to the fact that people are more likely to pay attention to and invest time in things that they perceive as being important.
This can lead to a situation where we are constantly bombarded with trivial information and distractions, and we neglect the things that are truly important. To avoid this trap, we need to be aware of the law of triviality and make an effort to focus our attention on the things that truly matter.
The law of triviality is a useful tool for understanding why we often spend more time on unimportant tasks than we do on important ones. By recognizing the principle at work, we can make an effort to focus our attention on the things that truly matter and avoid getting bogged down in trivial pursuits.