2019-08-25 Creating

Recently, @22 recommended the blog post Consume less, create more. The author argues that there is no moral high grounds to be gained when substituting reading books for social media, when reading newspapers instead of Twitter. Being thoroughly informed is not a value per se. All you get is material for smalltalk.

Let’s talk about the first part, consuming less.

I tend to agree with the idea that most people don’t gain from reading those huge daily newspapers.

So, you need to know enough to be able to make the right decisions in the realm where you can make a difference. You need to know a bit about the climate catastrophe in order to vote green. Knowing all the details, however, isn’t necessary and will most likely bring you down.

You need to know enough to convince yourself that your are right, that your newspaper is good. You need to know what you are doing.

Everything else is entertainment. You might as well read a book, or scroll through Instagram.

I didn’t think I’d ever write something as anti-intellectual as this. But I think it’s important to know what the benefits of being an intellectual actually are.

If none of the above, and not planning to change, then chances are that our current system is simply information overload.

Perhaps you should read more as a teenager in order to know whether you want to be an activist and change the system. You probably should. It’s definitely worth changing (incrementally, hah).

I find the following works well enough for me:

No TV.

But even this reduced diet is often overwhelming. Perhaps consuming less also makes me less suited for consuming what’s left.

The second part of the blog post is about creating more.

I often feel bad about not reading enough. I used to be a voracious reader. These days, I skim so much fragmented social media, headlines and abstracts, articles and introductions, it’s hard to focus on reading long articles, let alone books.

The terrible truth is that I am often bored when I read. As soon as I read something interesting, I want to write about it. Post a link. Write a comment. Or I start thinking about [[RPG|role-playing games] and programming. Creating things is more rewarding, these days. And it takes me so little effort it’s ridiculous. I feel like some people must feel like when they’re knitting: flow.

Anyway, I was reminded of an older blog post I had read, Productivity Rules. It’s about reducing your exposure to social media. It’s also about reading more books. Ah, I don’t know about reading more books. It’s also about creativity and being more “productive.”

I wonder. I want to know enough to be able to make the appropriate political decisions, but not so much that it crushes my soul. I often feel crushed and think I’m a fool for it. I often close the newspaper and think to myself: ugh, enough! But this is taking us back to what I wrote above. I guess many books these days simply bore me and that’s that. There are no excuses.

But this talk about being “productive” is weird. I refuse to see my free time in terms of productivity. That’s late stage capitalism talking. I don’t need to improve myself, I don’t need to get ahead in my free time.

Or perhaps we are applying the word to something different? @PresGas suggested “fruitfulness.” Interesting association: fecundity.

I guess the measure I’d have is: on my death bed, what would I say about my life?

Even in this respect I don’t think I would say: I wish my blog had been more popular. I wish I had been able to sell role-playing games. I don’t wish to have produced more. I don’t want consumers for my products. I want to meet and play games with my peers.

Thus, the audience is small, and I’m mainly doing it for myself. I think that’s how I keep our sanity. Making things for ourselves. Sometimes, incidentally, some free software project or a book or a track turns out to be a big hit, or a money making machine – but mostly they don’t and we need to be happy with that. And it’s still better than consuming a ton and never making a thing.

At least that’s how I explain it to myself. 😅

I think that’s how I keep my sanity.

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Comments

And a day later, @meta links to Sin-eaters: journalists devour the sins of others but to what end? It’s a long litany of terrible things that happened on a particular day, enraging and numbing at the same time, and there you have it: it changes nothing.

I wonder if there’s a better way to live without abstaining from the feed entirely? What exactly is it we’re doing, those of us who scroll through our newsfeed endlessly like an addict lifelessly pulling the lever on a slot machine waiting for information and sadness to spill out?

Indeed, where to find that sweet, sweet balance.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-08-26 15:11 UTC


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