How much is too much?
In many ways, we live in a golden age of media content. Thanks to education, more people know more about more topics than ever before. And thanks to the Internet, production and distribution are cheaper and easier than ever.
It would take you a lifetime to watch all the shows and movies on Netflix. Would you like to listen to a podcast on cryptozoology? You have your choice between dozens. You can get lost at your local library, in e-books or the old-fashioned print kind.
No generation in history has had access to so much. To put it another way, there have never been so many demands on our attention as there are now.
What does that mean for us?
There’s no reason to ever have an unproductive moment. Do you have a spare moment waiting in the grocery checkout line? You can scroll through social media. Riding the bus to work? Read an article from that niche magazine you like. Zoning out while on the treadmill at the gym? Listen to a workout mix from a streaming music service.
All this content means we can consume more. In theory, that means we are exposed to more, and more diverse, stories. But do we need time to actually be able to process this information? Rather than just going on to the next book, the next podcast, the next article, the next blog, is it necessary to take some time to internalize, to place the information in context? In addition, if we want to make content ourselves we need to alternate between consumption and production.
Moreover, in child development, isn’t it necessary that children learn to entertain themselves? How can that be done if they are constantly being entertained by other sources?
Occasionally, it is only through absence that we come to appreciate the world. Your favorite food tastes even better if you haven’t had it for a year. The warmth of summer feels all the better after the cold of winter. To that end, do we need to spend some time NOT reading or listening to stories, binging TV shows, or watching movies in order to appreciate them all the more?
Is some downtime required? How do we choose between the multitude of demands on us? Is our attention fractured?