Cannabis distillate, block-chain, #dotheshiggy… Our world of infinite and immediate, new and improved, has a way of making us feel irrelevant, too far behind, inadequate or simply just “out of it”.
I recently asked my dad if he felt a similar kind of cultural drowning when he entered adulthood. After a long-winded sigh and, likely, a nostalgic flash of memories from hisprime, he said: “nope!” “Why not?”, I asked him. His response was certain. “We didn’t know as much as you do now.”
I thought this was interesting, mainly because my generation is accused of being a group of entitled slugs who seem rather comfortable knowing next to nothing. What he really meant, I quickly realized, was that the amount of information to which we have access is not only astounding, but also much greater than anyone could ever need or use.
Remember encyclopedias? I loved it when my parents bought the full A to Z set. I felt like all of the world’s knowledge was right there, sitting dutifully on a living room shelf. If I wanted, I could spend a week to flip through every page from front to back. One week of exploration could give me the sense that I had covered nearly all of the knowledge there was to know. ALL of the knowledge, bounded so beautifully within those leather covers; how comforting that was!
Now, one of our primary sources of information, YouTube, has 300 new hours of video uploaded every single minute! From the second you began reading this article, you have already fell 150 hours behind in learnable material on just YouTube, let alone on Medium, LinkedIn, Reddit, Google Now, etc. I have one more for you: the content that was posted just and only today on YouTube would take me 49 years to watch (if I didn’t sleep).
So, yah, like the others in my generation, I feel a little bit behind, too. We feel this way, in part, because we know that we can’t even scratch the surface of the digestible and quality content produced every second of every day. And if we want to tackle even some of it, is there any good way to decide which sources to choose?
Feed(ing) the Infinite Scroll
I think these are the very difficult, rather overwhelming, questions facing the millennial generation. No generation prior has faced a similar problem, and certainly not at an iota of this scale. My dear father read one newspaper and watched two news stations for the bulk of his adult life. I have ten news feeds that pack my android with new dings, text notifications, popup reminders, voicemails, subscription notices, personally curated news, meeting reminders, voice-assistant email readings, SMSs, WIFIs, SOSs, and WTFs all day from the moment I wake up!
It seems to me that we millennials exercise one of three main strategies when consuming content:
- we actively choose to consume more and more content (e.g. we spend an average of 6 to 9 hours per day watching media)
- we actively choose not to consume content unless it comes easy to us (e.g. bounce rates increase by 90% if a page load takes five seconds)
- we actively choose to consume content only if it feels authentic and real (e.g. isn’t Vox great?!)
In my personal and professional opinion, I think we need a revamping of these strategies. The instructive thing about this conversation with my dad is that he didn’t care that he was behind. My dad did not feel the same manic pull to relevance that I feel. The feeling of keeping up with unending content was not a part of his upbringing, and so he’s now immune to the powers of the ‘scroll’.
A New Way, for Now
So, perhaps we take that cue from our seniors. Maybe we think a little more about whether it would be okay to know a lot about very little. Or whether it be okay to choose to stay out of the loop, knowing that the loop is never ending and infinitely enormous.
Would it be okay to know as much as you can in your area of interest and have a healthy ignorance to other areas? I think so.
So, let’s do that, instead; let’s know what we know, continue to grow and learn, and, in the end, feel good about what interests us and the knowledge that brings us meaning and happiness.
A new rallying call, then: #deathtotheinfinitescroll