For decades, we’ve worked under the assumption that mass culture follows a path declining steadily toward lowest-common-denominator standards … the exact opposite is happening: the culture is getting more cognitively demanding, not less.
-Steven Johnson (author of Everything Bad is Good For You)
Business has a concept called Opportunity Cost. This is the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen.
It is simple enough to apply this to content.
I can only read one book at a particular moment. So what books am I not reading while I’m trudging through volume 8 of a series I’ve lost interest in?
Rather than let this paralyse you with too much choice, embrace it as a free pass to walk away. You don’t have to finish every movie you start, or watch every super hero show, or follow every Star Trek series.
Our limits are time, attention, and money.
Money is an imaginary limitation, to be honest. The library is a short walk from my house and has books, comic book collections, and movies for free. Setting aside the cost of internet and a device, the internet has a bottomless well of free content.
This leaves time and attention.
Even time can be manipulated in some cases. I’ve encouraged fastforwarding through b-plots that are not grabbing you. I recently talked to someone who listens to podcasts at 1.5 times speed to cut the time while collecting the content.
Which brings us to attention.
While on my digital detox, I became much more aware of how much more I enjoy content when I remove second screening. Second screening is the term for having a second device fragmenting your attention while you “watch” TV.
Second screening, and the twitch to check email or check IMDb, is a good tip for me that I am not fully invested in what I have on. The same can go for a book. If my mind is drifting to seeking distractions, the book is obviously not fitting the bill.
My favourite show these days is Sense8 and we watched it in the down time at our hotel over the holiday. I watched every moment of it, my phone shut off and tucked away. I love that show and I felt I got a much better experience out of giving over my full attention to it.
If it’s worth your time and attention, it’s worth your intention.
Be here now.
Thanks for your time.