thinking vs. consuming

In creativity, deep thoughts, inspiration, learning, productivity by Jay Clouse

Continuing with the theme of yesterday’s piece on Priming, I wanted to share a lesson I learned in 2017 and the reason one of my goals of 2018 is to balance consumption with creation.

I spent quite a bit of time in 2017 just thinking. When you have a self-imposed mandate of writing every day, it requires cultivating and synthesizing a lot of original thought — and it’s hard!

To carve out the time for that thought, I had to cut out the consumption of other media at times. Netflix, podcasts, news articles, and social media included.

It just doesn’t seem possible to simultaneously form original thoughts while actively consuming the thoughts/ideas of someone else. Priming didn’t even seem to work as well when I was actively trying to learn or consume knowledge from someone else.

**There is one exception, and that’s if the information I’m consuming is directly related to what I’m trying to work out, and at that’s less priming and more so overtly-related ideas.

I felt like I learned and grew more in 2017 than any other year prior, and I attribute that directly to just spending more time actively thinking.

Sean Parker, the founder of Napster and one of the first investors in Facebook had a pretty damning quote in The Verge recently:

Sean Parker, of Napster fame and an early investor in Facebook, says the founders of the social networking site knew they were creating something people would become addicted to, reports Axios.

“God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” he said at an Axios event in Philadelphia, noting that he has become a “conscientious objector” on social media…

Parker says the social networking site exploits human psychological vulnerabilities through a validation feedback loop that gets people to constantly post to get even more likes and comments.

“It’s exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology,” he said. “The inventors, creators — it’s me, it’s Mark [Zuckerberg], it’s Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it’s all of these people — understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.”

With so much money put behind understanding the “vulnerability in human psychology” we are fighting a losing battle. We are fighting against our own biology. When we feel the tension of “space” — a few seconds in the elevator, the cool down on the treadmill, or waiting in line at a restaurant — we find ourselves mindlessly scrolling feeds.

By being conscious of this threat, even taking active steps to make it difficult for ourselves (deleting our apps, hiding our phones or putting them on grayscale) then we create an opportunity to reclaim some of our time for being thoughtful.

And I think you’ll be surprised how quickly you are able to set yourself apart.


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