I read articles to procrastinate more than any other activity. It’s cheap, time-consuming, and allows me to justify it—with no actual verity—by telling myself it’s research of some kind. Just today a few things I read were
Whether the game “Chinese whispers,” as “telephone” is known in the U.K., is racist (people were mostly unsure, but it is)
The Wikipedia page for the Tom Servo character on MST3K
…and several other things.
It’s definitely a problem. But possibly a problem I can get a handle on by being more aware of the habit. Chipping away at procrastination is an ongoing practice of reminding my monkey mind trivia can wait for breaks.
The only thing you can count on about the internet is the weird superimposition of the robustness and fragility of data. Sometimes your database gets corrupted and you lose posts. Sometimes there are backups to restore. It’s both. That’s weird.
The internet is the ultimate in potential for choice paralysis. Endless reading, gaming, shopping, viewing. It’s amazing and wonderful to have such bounty available. But it’s in our limitations that we find not only creative ways to solve our problems, but also a certain comfort.
When we have too many options, we spend time deciding among them. It’s time that could have been spent working on your thing, or enjoying some other art. Sometimes, the overwhelming nature of possible things to do makes us shut down and just spend our time with the familiar. Films we’ve seen a dozen times, music we could sing along to in our sleep. That’s fine. But when we say we want to try new things, it helps to have fewer options.
I don’t, unfortunately, have a consistent methodology for narrowing internet choices, but I think it’s probably worth working on, if even in a deliberate, manual, conscious way.
There are a number of people I know of—and friends I know—who are either decoupling from the endless social media feeds completely, experimenting with vacations away from them, or moderating down their use and intake of the same. It’s probably healthy to do one of those things if you find you’re not doing the things you think you want to, or feeling gross after scrolling feeds. John Green, no less, is taking a year off social media completely:
He takes time to point out the good things about social media, too, but overall, wants to spend some time being better at the things he wants and needs to do.
Similarly, Wheezy Waiter (Craig Benzine) and his wife, Chyna Pate, quit the internet entirely for a month and vlogged the results:
I think even if we don’t go the radical route, there’s a lot of food for thought in these vids, and tangible utility in understanding the brain hacks of social media and how we might benefit from circumventing them.
I can’t add much to this title, except that I was thinking about all the mess of social media most of us wade through from time-to-time—or even most of the day, for some—and how to deal with it as it washes over us. Dan Hon laid out some decent philosophical razors in this Medium piece. I like him.
I was always a fan of the Friday 5 meme, so here’s a past-blast redux, why not.
1) Austin Kleon gave a wonderful talk at the Bond conference last week, on maintaining your creative momentum and such.
2) Since the beginning of hockey season, I’ve been trying to be less a fan of any particular team and enjoy the game and the players I admire more. Still, there’s beauty in the way fandom wears its collective heart on its sleeve, and if you’re outside it you don’t feel the same impact. And since my former fanning was done in support of the Vancouver Canucks, I couldn’t help but be caught up in the last home game the fabled Sedin twins will ever play. Not only was it touching to see such affection pouring from the fans and other players (on both teams), it was also a thrilling nail-biter of a finish in overtime. It embodied the best of what pro sports can offer.
The question is yours to answer, we’ll all have a different list, sometimes several things, sometimes one.
But as social feeds get better at gaming your very human instincts and desires, it’s ever more incumbent to decide how much time is too much to spend with them. To that end, writing down the one or three things you view as “important” could be a useful reminder to spend most of your free time on them, and not digital minutiae.
Title: “What’s Important?”
And then use that to focus your attention and daily habit.
Along the digital hygiene self-examination track I’ve roared into headlong, I made my way slowly through Dan Hon’s newsletter (worth subscribing to, if you’re interested in informed ruminations on tech and its intersection with human life) wherein he talks about the difficulty in discerning whether social media corps. are engineering quirks of our brain reward system to get us addicted to the feeds they dangle, or if it’s just a coincidence of their format.
Basically, I wondered, is it just easier to make a decision about what we value? Do we value our time to make things and—even the precious moments we rarely find to just sit and do nothing—more than the endless stream of discrete information that’s overloading us?
Sorry, leading question your honor, withdrawn.
As creators, makers, we probably want our work to be valued. But if we don’t carve out time for it—probably more than we think we need—it doesn’t receive the raw input that imbues much of that potential value. In my opinion.
The Feed takes value from us. It takes it in the form of our time, our focus, and our personal data. We’re attempting to put value back into the world. Perhaps we should consider if we need a lot more of our own raw value to be able to do that.
About the Author
Marcus is a maker of things and thoughts. He currently resides in Portland, Oregon.