All Consuming Leisure

We’re all finding that the war for our attention is difficult to deal with. This is a key piece to the modern realization of the cyberpunk dystopias promised to us. I’m constantly fighting and losing against the advertisements and feeds and algorithms. Even the things I like are run in such a way that they are as addicitive as possible. They have to be in order to compete with everything else.

That’s something that I constantly forget. Not only are the things I like addictive, but the time and attention they require increases over time like a drug a cult. I’m constantly fighting against the little mini-cults I’m a part of and they’re constantly fighting against each other. There are more good tv shows to watch, more YouTube videos to stream, more comics to read. The heaviest hitters boost their positions with crossovers and cross advertising, auto-play, and reminder emails.

The worst of it is that none of these mini-cults are productive by default. They’re consumptive. You can’t watch as many tv shows if you are writing about them. And you certainly can’t watch as many if you are trying to make one yourself. Even more traditional passtimes have shifted to consumptive models. Athletes from amateur to professional are being trained to seek out more equipment and more supplements. Campers have a gear fetish. Woodworkers have tools so specific they only ever use them once. Filmmakers have 70 kinds of cameras and lenses and drones.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with buying nice things. I don’t even think there’s necessarily anything wrong with digging into your favorite mini-cult and embedding yourself there long term. But I am concerned about how much these consumer focused cultural tendencies are preventing me from reaching real satisfaction.

I want to make stuff. I want to do things. I want to explore and build and change the world around me. I don’t expect that I will be able to leave a lasting mark, but I still want to make one. I think that all of these addictions are standing in the way of that. At the same time though, so much of what I want to do is hopelessly tied up in those same addictive things.

So how can I balance my love for all of these things with my need to remove distractions and create? I don’t have an answer yet. But I do know that I have had great success recently with building good habits. I also know that there are ways to put intentionality behind my actions that I haven’t explored yet. I’m going to push to accomplish more. Let’s see how it goes.