Barbecue sauce, weekend benders, porn, television, movies, Hulu. What do these all have in common? In reasonable doses they can add new dimensions of fun and texture to your life, but too much and the law of diminishing returns kicks in. What’s delicious? Hot wings and barbecue. What’s disgusting? One wing in a tub of Stubb’s. This is what personal media has become to me: a constant binge of distraction.
Let me clarify something. I’m 28. I’m in the doldrums of the twenty-something. I’m now filling the void which was once taken up by finishing college and beginning a career with simply watching movies, television, and following the ever proliferating number of my friends’ baby/engagement/home-buying photos online. And like eating too many Warheads as an eighth grader, my existential taste buds are now over-saturated. The turn to Facebook, Reddit, TED.com, has become automatic. I’ve checked my Facebook twice since I began typing this article.
It’s time this ended.
In order to get anything done I’m going to prescribe myself something simple: A media blackout; no movies, no television, no social media for a week, and then a reasonable and disciplined return.
I realized it last night, driving home from some live comedy: If I don’t cut the bullshit out of my life, and focus on doing some real shit, nothing I do will be worth anything, and I’ll have wasted my time. Those are the stakes, better shut the lights off.
Being distracted is the chosen poison of Gen Y & the Millenials. Baby Boomers drug of choice was making money, buying big, expensive houses and cars, and (arguably) ruining the world for future generations (if you cannot create a dreamworld, you can destroy the real world). We, those of us between the ages of 21 and 35, prefer endless, meaningless distraction.
This isn’t a railing against the immaturity of Hollywood, or idiotically repetitive, overproduced music, it’s more of an expression of concern that in a world where I can stream multiple seasons of hundreds of shows on Netflix, I may truly be able to numb out in the kind of way Huxley feared in Brave New World. It’s that if I don’t shut out the distractions, and learn to be discerning and disciplined, I may wake up in my 30’s, 40’s, or 50’s realizing that I’d spent a life at the movies, consuming the dreams of others.
That’s the biggest fear of all: that eventually we’ll all succumb, and lose track of ourselves, our values, dreams, our identities, into a media environment that’s constantly clamoring for our attention – a kind of drug addiction to novelty and narrative.