The brilliant illustration is made by CatF4ce on reddit.
Weekends have become somewhat anomalous and amorphous in their meaning and structure to me. Days blend into one another and structure is eroded by monotony. The constant feeling of stasis makes me anxious that I am not progressing, yet time flies past as hours turn into months. As with many topics nowadays, attention towards social media’s impact on civilization has been brought to light with a stylish and alarming Netflix documentary. Coincidentally, before its release I picked up the book Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport and breezed through the first part, essentially a written version of the new documentary The Social Dilemma. The usual advise followed: limit social media use, delete uneccessary apps, tailor your privacy settings, reduce screen-time etc. Ironically, the talk of social media makes me want to check it out more, and find out a bunch of threads where people discuss this, join in, fall down the rabbit hole. It’s the easiest way to talk about something interesting, right there and then when it’s fresh in your mind. I wonder how it used to be in the past, did people hold onto one or two interesting things and discuss them at length with friends and family? Did they come back to the same books and movies they had on tape, instead of waiting for the autoplay feature to suck us into another half watched/listenend alarmist doc that brings about a Twitter storm for a few days. It almost seems like a romantic fantasy, to read a book or watch a movie, to hold onto some parts that stuck with you for hours and days, to find those close to you who listen and are interested.
This longing for connection around some newest trend and piece of pop culture makes us slaves to habits. How many times have you been browsing the internet, looking at hashtags and past comment threads about some episode or documentary that you were watching at that very moment. This doesn’t give you time to actually think and process the already pre-digested information, provided in fancy airplane spoonful that eventually corrupt the networks in your mind, like a Diabetes specifically for thoughts. How many times have you found yourself unable to concentrate on something that was made to consume your attention? Leafing through tabs, scrolling through Instagram or reddit. Using up all of your available bandwidth.
It is so incredibly hard to go back to taking your time with things. It somehow feels like wasting time. When you can have a video playing in the background while you’re catching up on some other news source, maybe replying to some chats from friends, there is a reward there. You’re doing something. It’s so difficult to sit relatively still and pay attention when any single moment of boredom has resulted in a Pavlovian conditioning to seek out that easy hit of dopamine, that chance to reply with a “haha” or some emoji to remind everyone in that group chat you’re still relevant, you’re part of the group, you’re with them right now.
I binged through Neon Genesis - Evangelion. It’s the first time in a long time I’ve seen how long moments can bring such weight to a scene, ruined by the conditioned thinking that either the video was buffering or something was wrong with my interned, splintering the scenes into fragments of their true potential impression on me. Despite this I really enjoyed it. The themes it covered were both familiar and unfamiliar, the philosophical conundrums interesting and stimulating. But binging through is one way to lessen the show’s impact. The more you watch something in a row, the less you care about the individual moments and more about the overall mystery and story. You want to know what happens next, not what is happening right now. What if the entire story is more about what is happening right now though? Then you’ve really wasted your time by focusing on what could be and not by enjoying what is. That is how I felt after the last episode, I was so focused on the flashy promise of big mech battles and mysteries, that I skimmed over the true gem of this series, the discussion about what it means to be human among other topics. Binging may have satisfied that superficial boredom and craving for a new story, but it hasn’t fulfilled the true hunger for something deep and meaningful. I’m quite sad about this, such types of shows are few and far in-between. Yes I could re-watch it, but it’s quite clear that the first impact of a story is the important one. I think that is not the solution. The solution may be to allow myself to be bored by something. Allow myself to ignore the buffering of a video, the dropped internet connection. Becoming bored is not something to be afraid of, it’s also a skill that can be trained. Paradoxically, being bored may lead to quite a lot of fun.
Time is truly a non renewable resource. Unlike other resources, using time most efficiently does not always mean getting the most done. Becoming comfortable with taking doing things slowly and being bored is something I will try to accomplish.