I spend a lot of time in front of a screen. I am betting most of us do.
We’re connected in some really incredible ways to a world of movement and information. The trouble is we have an overload. We know this. We’ve known for a long while, and yet we’re addicted to that same overload.
We’re gluttons for media, we crave input. We are children of the screen. Technology and media companies know exactly how to feed our hunger. They use it to keep drawing us back in, and by god do we keep coming back. Media saturation is our favored drug, and we suck it up wherever we can.
Should we turn it off, then? No. I’m not suggesting we disconnect. Our technology may not be politically neutral, but there are ways to tactically appropriate its power. We need to exploit those ways. Sometimes, indeed many times, this always-on connection can be a benefit. We can act and respond faster. We can connect with one another. We can plan and gather needed information in ways we never could have before. What I am suggesting is that we actually get tactical. We consider our consumption pattern and we reduce and focus.
It’s that focus we keep losing. We can’t keep up, but we want to try. We are desperate to try. There is just so much out there.
This month has been hell. The constant of stream of news has been draining. We’ve seen horror after horror streaming in a near constant flow. If we look away, we feel guilty. So we watch and we rage. Then in response, and out of emotional exhaustion, we gather ourselves around other media. We escape into fantasies and comedy. We seek to forget, laugh, or find something to take us away from the hurt and the pain. The reality is that the horrors we are facing are real. They have been for a very long time. We’re not doing any good watching in stunned silence. We’re not doing any good obsessing. Yes, we need to fight what we can and do what we can to resist. This is not the way, though.
Resistance is not consumption. Do you need more news to tell you how horrible this regime is? Do you need more evidence? It’s okay to turn it off. It is okay to walk away.
Resistance requires focus and attention not on the news but each other. Technology can help with that, but technology is not limited to Facebook or the New York Times or Google. Technology is that machine in your house. You own it and you have the power to control it. You can tell it where to go and where not to go. Start making decisions about what you read and watch. If an algorithm feeds it to you, you still have a choice. You don’t have to click. You’re not missing much, I promise.