The obesity epidemic is, in part, blamed on our evolutionary background. Our bodies favor high-calorie foods, which are now too easy to consume. (Obviously, there are other contributing factors, such as sedentary lifestyles.)
Obviously, not everyone succumbs to obesity. Personally, I have no desire to eat myself fat–I’m thin not because of willpower, but just because I have no inherent drive down that path.
But, that doesn’t mean I don’t have my weaknesses. And perhaps my strongest weakness (ha!) is the media.
I’ve been thinking about this because I was invited to a discussion predicated on this thesis:
As television moves from a linear broadcast experience to an on-demand one, we will soon be able to access 10,000’s of choices at a time. However, viewers already have a love/hate relationship with TV content: they want lots of options, but can never find anything they “want” to watch buried in the 100’s of channels and 1000’s of programs.
I realized that the “problem” in this thesis has it almost exactly wrong. Any new TiVo owner will tell you that they’ve got a long list of saved programs that they’re having trouble getting through. Not only can we find things that we “want” to watch, we have far far too much stuff we want to watch.
When I combine this access to desirable television with all the other forms of media, I’m awash in options: DVDs from Greencine (which I typically have for 1 or 2 months before I get around to them), books from the library (I often return them only partly read), RSS feeds from 149 websites (“Mark all as read” is becoming my friend), magazines, journals, web pages, and other books piling up.
It’s too much.
The problem is, I want it all. There’s good stuff throughout all this, informative, compelling, thought-provoking, entertaining.
It made me wonder if there’s an evolutionary precedent to media consumption the way there is to high-calorie consumption. I suppose that information gathering and processing could have been a valuable survival tool. There’s also the Media Equation aspect — with engage with media as if they were other people… and we are social beings… so this kind of media consumption might be tapping into our social nature.
Anyway, whatever the root causes, I’m feeling media obese. And obesity, in any form, is Not A Good Thing. I’m realizing I have to treat media with far higher discrimination than I do currently — and that this will mean ignoring that which is only good and relevant, and focusing only on the very good and very relevant. As a media junky, this restraint will be difficult. We’ll see how it goes.