Cleaning Up Consumption
I love learning new things. I always have, and I always will. That’s one reason why I became a web developer, so that my very career would force me to spend my whole life learning.
But not all learning is created equal. Last year I started cleaning up my mental consumption, and every part of my life has improved as a result. Let me explain.
Feeding the Mind #
Breakfast, dinner, tea; in extreme cases, breakfast, luncheon, dinner, tea, and a glass of something hot at bedtime. What care we take about feeding the lucky body! Which of us does as much for his mind? -Lewis Caroll, 1884
We live in an age of gluttony. The internet is a wonderful tool, but it has evolved to encourage gross consumption. Social media is the biggest culprit. The Instagrams, the Twitters, the TikToks, the YouTubes. These services provide you with bonbons for the brain: they give a little adrenaline rush but no long-term sustenance.
The body was never intended to live on bonbons. Similarly, the brain was never intended to live on social media. Why then do we continue to consume them?
We know candy isn’t good for us, yet we consume it anyway. Fortunately for our bodies, our very lives depend on the consumption of good food in addition to junk, no man can live on bonbons alone. Unluckily for us, our minds are subject to no such restrictions, we can feast on all the bonbons we want.
Combating consumption with Obsidian #
I recently wrote about combating consumption using Obsidian. Obsidian has been an incredible resource for me in this regard, and it has allowed me to create ten times more than I ever have before while reducing my consumption by the same amount.
My whole life has benefited thanks to this. Reducing consumption and creating more (even for myself) has improved my life in so many ways.
Switching transient media for timeless media #
I’ve also started reading again. In 2019 and 2020, I leaned heavily into transient media: podcasts, blogs via RSS, social media, etc. I learned about current events and current industry trends, which is well and good for a time, but I wasn’t gaining much wisdom from that. Nor was I very edified by such things.
So in 2021, I changed my ways. I’ve cut back on transient media, and switched to real books. Podcast time has changed to audiobook time, and blog/TV time has switched to physical books and e-books. I deleted most of my social media accounts. I read for an hour almost every night, and listen to audiobooks whenever I’m doing chores.
I also keep track of every book I read, and add notes to Obsidian, in case I want to remember a point from a book in the future.
Did it work? #
The results of my experiment? Much more happiness, much deeper learning, better productivity, and many more notes for Obsidian. In 2021 I read 40 books, probably more than in the previous five years combined. This year I’m already up to 47, and some of those have been sizable books.
More than that, my memory has improved and I’m better at talking to people. To use Lewis Caroll’s term, I think I developed a fat mind, but through a lot of effort, I was able to trim up and build better habits for myself.
If you haven’t picked up a book in a while, I’d encourage you to try it. Put your phone in another room for a bit, and read the first chapter of that book on your night stand. It just might improve your life in more ways than you know.
- Adds new post on over consumption