Valentine apparently enjoys collecting arbitrary achievements.
“Enjoy” is too simple to describe what’s true here. I find myself motivated to collect them. When I get another one, I get a “I’m getting closer!” feeling. Getting them all gives me a few moments of satisfaction, sort of like having carefully organized a silverware drawer might.
And I agree, there’s nothing wrong with that per se.
I just don’t want that process to hijack my effort to learn French.
[…] it seems that [Valentine is] feeling some guilt about it.
Uh, no. I don’t know where you got that impression. I don’t feel guilty about eating lotus. I just want to notice when I am, because apparently I can be fed lotus without my asking for it. If I don’t notice, then others can tell me what my goals are, even accidentally. I don’t like that.
I enjoy candy. If someone gives me candy, that’s good. Even if I’m trying to learn French, and someone offers me candy rewards for reaching arbitrary milestones, that’s still good. Even if I’m somehow not aware that the milestones are arbitrary and that they don’t really help me learn French, it’s still good, because I’m getting candy, and I like candy. I would never call that “hijacking”. No, I’m exchanging a miniscule bit of French-ability for some candy. It’s a trade that satisfies my preferences. I have nothing even slightly negative to say about these candy-givers.
You, on the other hand, do use such harsh words as “hijack”, which suggests that there are some negative emotions related to the lotus. I’m only guessing that guilt might be the cause (this is “guilt” in the sense of “guilty pleasure”).
Also, you used the word “lotus” from the Odyssey, where it is not depicted in a very positive light. Was I not supposed to deduce anything from that choice of a name?
I think all you’re missing is words like “lotus” and “hijacked” have developed connotations on LessWrong which aren’t as harsh as the basic connotations of those words used outside the context of LW, and that it’s those connotations Val sought to bring to mind in his post, and not that of hijacking planes or the Odyssey.
Oh. Can you give me some links to that?