Piles of books on the bedside table. Lists of TV series clogging up the ‘watch later’ tab. Exhibitions and concerts in our diaries one day after the other. So many things to read, watch or visit. And there is never enough time. We may be spending too much time binge watching on the laptop or scrolling through our social media feeds or we end up feeling lethargic and stay at home instead of going out.
Our content diet is often a sign that we are settling for what we have – a phenomenon that emerged in all its power during the lockdown when our ‘newly-found free time’ and our good intentions soon turned into a self-satisfied string of the usual small pleasures and an incessant series of notifications. How can we avoid the overload of continuous input and manage to diversify our consumption of the Media and culture?
In 2019, the American director Max Joseph tried to provide the answer in a documentary entitled “Bookstores: How to Read More Books in the Golden Age of Content”. His idea arose from personal experience. A fan of books and bookstores, at a certain point in time, Joseph was suffering from this anxiety: “So much to read and so little time.”
And like a traditional diet, for content the goal is also to create a virtuous circle of habits that do away with strict demands and create a natural way to consume
The feeling gets worse when we realise that work, emails, messages, social networks, digital streaming platforms, news channels and the mass of other available content require our attention and time. Minutes become hours, reducing the time available for other types of consumption – like books. To make up for lost time, Joseph explored four paths which are equally applicable to other media and content:
First: Put your whole content diet into perspective and measure how long you spend consuming it.
Second: Work out which types of content you can decrease to make more time for other activities.
Third: Figure out how you can rationalize (or speed up) how you consume some types of content that don’t need your full attention.
Fourth: dig deep into your passion, place it at the heart of your exploration and see how the rest fits in around it. The result will be a re-discovered passion.
Like a traditional diet (with fewer calories, vegetables and exercise) for content the goal is also to create a virtuous circle of habits that do away with strict demands and create a natural way to consume At the end of the day, it’s simply a question of commitment and focus.
Let’s take the example of social media on your smartphone. How can you free yourself of its appeal? First of all, by defining the scope of your interest, deciding to keep what gives you the greatest satisfaction and offloading all those Apps that you downloaded but never use. Stop posting in real time (unless you are Chiara Ferragni). Do not take away precious time from social interaction like lunch or dinner to scroll endlessly. Build a network of social contacts as a positive stimulus for other types of content consumption (like books, films, music, sports and so on). Finally, plan a break in a WiFi-free place and see how it feels.