Over the last several months, I have come to the decision to cut most video media out of my life for the foreseeable future. The reasons for this are simple, but they deserve mentioning. I believe that this is something that every would-be free person should be willing to do.
Video media pollutes your thoughts, turns you into a sponge for someone else’ narrative and moves you from being an active creator into a passive consumer. For these reasons, I believe that video (despite the good it could provide) is in many ways blocking the progress towards an autonomous society. By cutting it out of my life, I hope that I may move forward to becoming a more fully autonomous individual.
Consumption Of Video Media Pollutes Your Thoughts
Almost all media is designed to entertain and to engage your senses and your emotions in a jarring manner. Subtlety does not sell well. Subtlety is poor business. For this reason, nearly every form of media out there is designed to be as exciting as possible.
Why is this a bad thing? Well, from experience, you might have noticed that when you have been without a consistent supply of entertainment that your thoughts became clearer. It becomes easier to focus on tasks and make sound judgments. For example, when you find yourself in a situation where all there is to do is read from a certain limited selection, your mind may bounce around for a few days, but eventually it settles down on the limited material available. When this happens, you consume this material with an efficiency that far surpasses what happens in ordinary life.
If you are looking at improving your ability to learn it may help to adopt all sorts of “super-learning” techniques, to engage in brainstorming, relaxation methods and speed reading, but the sine qua non should be the removal of distraction. There are few distractions as damaging as video media.
Consumption Of Video Media Transforms You Into A Sponge
Learn to think for yourself. If you constantly need exposure to some pundit to tell you what to think or to reinforce your current beliefs, then you are not fully human. This is a bicameral mindset. This is particularly the case with media that makes the task easy. When your consumption centers around television and video, then the information you consume is examined less critically. Consider this. If you pay attention while reading ‘long form cop’y (written advertisements) you might notice that the syllable count per sentence is short and the words are easy. This helps the advertisement to bypass your critical faculties and engage the emotional part of you. Following this reasoning, when you are consuming information from a source that aims to make it easy to digest (video), fewer of your critical faculties are engaged.
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By consuming video media, you volunteer to have your major decisions made by whoever can present the easiest to follow narrative or most entertaining presentation. This is a poor way to go through life. Your faculties should be engaged and dominant. You should be engaged in hammering out your own values. What do you stand for? You’ll never know for certain if your life is defined by passive consumption.
Consumption Of Video Media Transitions You From A Creator To A Consumer
Video is addictive. It provides a sense of excitement that is hard to match. Reading does not engage you as much, so it has a difficult time competing. Reading, however, is not the only thing that has trouble competing. The slow grind involved in actually creating things has an especially difficult time. There is no feeling more satisfying than having a project that you spent days, weeks, months, years working on come to fruition. This satisfaction, however, is delayed. Wouldn’t it be easier to watch a Rocky workout montage and simply imagine you were doing all of that work? This is what video does. It tricks your reward system. Your ability and drive to create becomes greatly diminished. You get your fix through watching others do what you wish to do.
So, what of inspirational content? It is garbage in my experience. I have had highs and lows in my life. I have had times when I have been able to accomplish some pretty neat stuff and other times when I was (putting it charitably) failing to justify my place on this earth. For all of those times when I got stuff accomplished, I cannot recall ever using content like this to get me through, but I sure ate that shit up when I was at my most pathetic.
Finally, even if none of the above is accepted, simply by removing this media from my life I will be imposing a command on myself. Simply by following through with obeying that command I become more fully human. Self-overcoming is central to progress. There is a world of difference between those who can give themselves commands and follow them and those who think in terms of “that would be a good thing to do”.
Speaking of which, some time ago I ordered myself to create problem sets. Even if those problem sets fail to fulfill their function, by following this order I move forward. The obvious conclusions follow.
Jason Calhoughney writing for the Apollo Institute of Reason AIR Review©