How many articles do you read in a day? The occasioanl click or two per hour, and maybe you don’t finish the whole piece, but just enough to get the point. Let’s say you do that a dozen times a day. Easy, right? And let’s say you maybe spend about two minutes each time per article. That’s quick.
But thats already 24 minutes of your day.
What about when you add video into the mix? We easily watch three videos per day, and maybe maybe 2 minutes each? I mean, on average. Cool?
That’s 6 minutes of video per day, and I bet that’s on the low end.
Can we agree that we spend at least 30 minutes per day reading / viewing / skimming things? And that these are mostly micro bursts of taking things in? I’m not talking that 15 minute documentary where you learn something, or the 1000 word article that leaves you in tears. Nope. Just the sort of “content marketing” and “re-written news” that we practicaly trip over and consume every day.
If we figure 30 minutes per day, that’s 3.5 hours a week. Which is 14 hours per month. Almost a full day of awake time in a typical day.
And at 14 hours per month, that’s 168 hours per year, or 7 days of reading and watching.
Seven full days per year we’re staring at our phones, scrolling, squinting, skipping ads / clicking Reader mode, thumbing. Chances are you’re reading this on your mobile device right now.
I KNOW it’s just a minute here, a minute there. Don’t be such a kill joy, Seth! But dammit, this ain’t natural. Multi-tasking is a myth, but multi-consuming can’t be real either.
Have you tried listening to a podcast while scrolling through Twitter, then clicking a story, and trying to read it. How – HOW – do we even think this is normal?
I understand when a friend I’m having lunch with has to reply to work email (GIG ECONOMY, YAY), but please don’t interuppt our catching up with your catching up with your Instagram feed.
I clicked Twitter just now, and was able to take in all this:
- A 3:21 song by my friend Norah.
- A mesmerizing GIF of Lebron James dribbling between someone else’s legs that I watched 10 times.
- Something about autonomous drones. Waste of a click.
- Reading about a media outlet closing and blaming Facebook. Meh, heard about that yesterday on Daring Fireball.
- Of course someone wrote ‘Why vinyl LPs are better than CDs and MP3s.’ In 2018. Whyyyyy?
- This article ‘Jeff Derringer: Can you be a real artist without focusing on your craft full time?‘ is something that really interests me. It’s over 3000 words.
- I read ‘How I Address Remote Isolation‘ and nodded along in agreement.
- ‘It’s not you. Phones are designed to be addicting.’ Five minutes long.
That’s just tonight. That’s the last 15 minutes, maybe. But it’s happening around the clock. There are important stories to read, articles that are informative, music being released in different time zones, funny videos being uploads (how many hours of content are posted every morning from the late night shows), it goes on, and on, and on, and on…
And right now I’m adding to it. But I’m hoping to be like some messenger from The Matrix or something, typing on your screen in the middle of the night. “Knock, knock, Neo…”
You don’t even need to delete social media and throw your computer down a well. You just need to do your online work and get the hell away. Your best ideas will come when you’re out on a walk or having a conversation with a friend, not scrolling endlessly through some design inspiration site.
I don’t mean that the internet is bad, but the continual flood of infomration that we keep ramming into our brain can’t be healthy.
While I’m sure ‘Jared Kushner’s many, many scandals, explained‘ is a well done article, does our survival rely upon that information? Will it give us information that we can use to debate the Trump supporters in our life?
What about the 20 other Trump topics that were brought up today? Can we read those 25 articles, three explainer videos, four wrap-up hot takes from the late-night hosts, and listen to the four daily political podcasts and get their take on everything?
Then we do it again tomorrow? Nay, do it again this evening? When some other bat-shit crazy thing hits the fan?
Breaking up our attention for these hundreds and thousands of tiny interruptions over the course of weeks and months and years might make us tiny experts at a million things, but I believe it’s keeping us from deeper thinking and bigger conversations with important people already in our life.