As part of my self-improvement drive and my writing, I would consume books, blogs, articles, and podcasts, pick out the good ones and add them to my library or citation manager. Looking back at this practice, it was as if I was trying to curate all the best ideas in the world.
I felt that if I could obtain all the good ideas, then my life would be better, and I would be happier and successful.
However, I found such a quest to be a trap, of Digital Gluttony.
We all recognise the deluge of information and we’re under. The Internet has expanded the amount of information we’re exposed to. News, blogs, magazines, advertising, and social media all give us information overload. We feel we have to consume all this information just in case we miss something valuable.
Glutton vs Lean
Over the years of all that reading and watching, I’ve come to see it doesn’t work, a better life was not happening. It was here I realised just how addictive our information-saturated digital world is.
With exposure to so many images and ideas at our fingertips, we gorge ourselves online even when we don’t need such input. Bombarded by so much information, we get the idea that the more information we consume, the smarter we will be, and the better life will be.
There’s a lot of information out there, so much so you could spend the rest of your life consuming it and never fix the problem you were researching.
The more I looked, the harder it became to take action because it was easier to consume than it is to do the hard work and take action. If I just learned one more idea and read one more book, I will be ready.
Our digital world has made it easy to do with our smartphones. My gluttonous appetite for ideas led me to think that just having ideas was enough; it never occurred to me, in the beginning, to act upon them. Satisfaction is never there because there’s always something new out there.
Superficial vs deep
Because of the constant distraction and input the internet offers we have become a culture habituated to skimming the surface, not diving deep. Obsessed with fleering trends instead of lasting popularity.
I have noted once that I had far too many images of art on my PC, many artists I follow, and many files and citations I had bookmarked or saved.
Instead of trying to understand a piece of art, I just look for the next one. It’s become easy to skim the surface, bookmarking ideas rather than diving deeper to grasp their meaning.
To be creative, it’s necessary to dive deep, to understand what you like and don’t, and to find out what art you want to create. That can’t be done in the deluge of content fed to us. Digging deeper into a work of art you like is the only way to understand that art better.
Modern technology teaches us to be superficially invested in people, things, ideas, and lifestyles. That’s something we need to be aware of.
Instead of the novelty of new, take all the stuff you bookmarked, followed, friended and dig deeper. Do some digital cleaning up. Minimalism is not just a lifestyle practice for keeping your house tidy; it also applies to your digital world of the desktop, the phone, the laptop and your online existence, a ‘Digital’ Minimalism, promoted by Cal Newport.
I have since cut down on how much I consume and how often I look at social media—cutting back on my digital consumption to focus more on creative pursuits. Part of all this has been to limit more carefully deploy digital technology-specific ways to further my goals.
I try to use more analogue ways of organising my life and avoid the online digital quagmire of YouTube and articles.
The digital is, in some ways, put aside for notebooks and old-school printed books to read. I often go on a digital minimalism drive when I look at what’s on my PC or phone and trash files no longer needed.
Where I do use digital tools, I have become more disciplined. Instead of mindless distraction I’m writing or making art. I also sometimes use apps to block the internet to get some focus.
Shallow, habitual consumption of digital products like videos, blog posts, and podcasts can, in the end, take us away from a good life. A never-ending stream of distraction that our consumer society encourages.
My biggest journey has been away from consumption and into production, both at home and in outline here in my digital life.
Leaving behind the noise of the internet is one of the most important I’ve learned steps to skill acquisition, self-knowledge, creativity and better life satisfaction.
By using technology more carefully and to achieve my goals, I’ve found that my artistic voice is becoming clearer, and I’m expressing myself more (a big step for social anxiety).
Digital Gluttony and consumption is a major problem today when it comes to facing our problems and those of the world. Far too much wasted energy and time goes into scrolling social media, reading whatever comes across our feeds.
I have become far more suspicious of the online world and the digital devices I use. The digital realm is still a problem, still distracting, but the time I spend now is more valued because I’m less distracted and more engaged with my life.