Reckless Consumption Is Unhealthy: And I Don’t Mean Carbs.
I mean content consumption.
I imagine my day goes a little something like yours: I wake up with a dozen or so emails in my inbox, and some are articles, others advertisements, and some are for work.
I scroll through a Facebook feed, watch any number of videos, and then check messages across all platforms: Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, & Messenger.
By the end of any given day, I’ve probably listened to a podcast or two, watched more than several videos, and had 6–10 conversations online.
Could that time have been spent better?
I would argue that some of that time I (we, me, and you too!) spend on consuming content, whether it be in article, podcast, or video form, could be better used elsewhere.
1. Consuming Cuts Time Out of Creating Calm
Ab exercises on my yoga mat. Long, romantic walks on the beach. Long, platonic naps with my bed. The list of things I should, or could be doing instead of reading the “Top Ten Things Every Marketer Needs to Know” article that Medium recommended for me, is nearly endless.
In the hierarchy of things in my life, following Christ, caring about my family and friends, and completing the work for which I am paid comes first, while my “read later” list needs to know it’s place.
As Tony Schwartz, journalist and CEO of “The Energy Project”, said in The Scientific American, “”People are working so many hours that not only in most cases do they not have more hours they could work, but there’s also strong evidence that when they work for too long they get diminishing returns in terms of health costs and emotional costs.”
I may work myself into thinking that doing “just a little bit more” is the answer, but sometimes a little bit more will cost me a lot in energy. Friends, we all need rest.
2. Consuming Lots of Content Means You’re Not Being Critical
Are you friends with everyone you have ever met? Do you see each of the friends you do have for the exact same amount of time every week?
No, because there is a hierarchy of importance and only a limited amount of time that you and I have to hang out with the people we want to.
I am picky with my friendships because time is limited, and so I should be picky with my content for the same reasons. If I am reading most anything that I find even vaguely interesting, that is a sure recipe for and overwhelmed exhaustion.
It is a skill, if not a gift, to be discriminatory of what material is worth consuming, and discerning among that material what is worth consuming today.
Of course, I will let curiosity take a hold of me every so often, but I can’t allow my attention to be side-tracked by every stray Tweet or Facebook video.
3. Consuming Means I’m Not Creating My Own Content
If I am reading an article, then by default, I am not writing. It is far too often that I will have twelve tabs, a slew of articles spread across my digital desktop, and yet I haven’t written a single thing all day.
There are many reasons to create content, but I want to begin purely pragmatically: whatever content I produce is ultimately what I will put on my resume, not what books I read.
Even if my knowledge is being learned purely for my own personal joy, like Austrian Economics if for me, it is hard to process information without putting it into action somehow.
Are you reading a book on prayer? Then pray. Are you watching tutorials on coding? Try out a few trial exercises.
There is a point at which I need to switch out of student gear, and into practitioner mode.
Let me present you with a quote:
Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking. ~ Albert Einstein
Einstein dropped out of school at the age of 15, and went on to develop theories that continue to shape the landscape of physics today. Imagine if he had continued reading and studying in school, instead of theorizing elsewhere.
I am not saying that I am Einstein, nor should you expect me to write or say anything so profound or groundbreaking. However, I am saying that to get to a place of optimal productivity, we may need to take a break, discern what is crucial to consume for that day, and then create.
In short, I will continue to borrow from what I have learned, and bring into existence something brand new.