there was a risk of a slippery slope

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redgiant

Senior Member
Cantonese, Hong Kong
An online talkshow had a segment about some people taking on a unplugging challenge in which they had to go a week without their devices and television. During that time, they'd limit themselves to a few work-related email check-ins a day. One of the guests on the show said there was a risk of a slippery slope with their challenge since they allowed themselves to plug in to check the email. She suggested they put a time limit on each check so that it wouldn't end up a long browsing session.

Hi native speakers,

I can't remember what the guest said exactly, but do you think "there was a risk of a slippery slope" is used correctly to mean "there was a risk of turning quick email check-in into a long browsing session"?
 
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  • "a slippery slope" is a situation when one intends some small step/event or etc, but cannot control the outcome, and it becomes a major step or event, likely unwanted. {One slips down the slope of the mountain, to the bottom, when that was not intended.} Ex: "Taking 'a few, minor office supplies' home from work--e.g. pens, paper, envelopes-- can become a slippery slope. One could end up with hundreds of dollars worth of goods and get charged with theft."

    To answer your question. Yes. One intends a short time, but finds oneself dragged into spending a long time at the computer, when that was expressly NOT supposed to happen.
     
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    Chris K

    Senior Member
    English / US
    It's a metaphor. The idea of a slippery slope, literally, is that you're climbing on a steep hill and you start to lose grip and all of a sudden things accelerate and get out of control and you're under an avalanche. The idea here is that once you start using email you're risking losing the whole concept of going unplugged, because even a small step like that can lead to the whole project collapsing.
     
    I think the metaphor works better if one thinks of being ON the top (or side) of a hill, and the hill slopes down steeply from there. One sees some beautiful flower growing about ten feet down the slope, and decides to go down JUST that short distance, get the flower and return. Unfortunately, arriving at the flower, it's so steep and slippery that one falls down to the botton of the slope, injured.
     

    redgiant

    Senior Member
    Cantonese, Hong Kong
    Thank you for your explanations, bennymix and chrisK

    It's a metaphor. The idea of a slippery slope, literally, is that you're climbing on a steep hill and you start to lose grip and all of a sudden things accelerate and get out of control and you're under an avalanche.
    "a snowball effect" came to mind as soon as I read "an avalanche". Do you think "there was a risk of a snowball effect" would be a good, if not better, way of describing the risk of falling back into their internet addiction?
     
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