Digital Appetite and Attention Span

In October I wrote a post about my entertainment stockpile for winter. In it I wrote that the new XCOM game was going to be a regular in my gaming rotation and that I had already put 18 hours in it during one weekend. That was over a month ago. Today my XCOM clock card still reads 18 hours. What happened?

Before diving into the particulars of my case I submit that every dweller in the digital realm has an individual appetite for information and entertainment. Some have higher thresholds for adequate amounts of content, others can/will settle for less. I also submit that the digitally able folk have quite different appetites in comparison to others. The data flow of today is so intense that there must be a couple of screws up in your head loose to deal with all of it. Let alone crave for more.

I’m always on the lookout for new stuff to occupy myself with. Articles, books, TV-series, games, gadgets, music, presentations, websites, videos, research papers. Everything that’s remotely interesting will get a second look from me. However, 90 percent of the time that second look will be very brief and also the very last. My constant appetite for learning new stuff and trying new things is putting serious strain on my attention span. I firmly believe that I’m not alone with this predicament. No real geek can possibly be satisfied on how much content can be stuffed inside 24 hours.

Time and it’s management is really the issue here. I’m not willing to force through low quality content just to be done with it. I value my time too much, and there’s always something new waiting around the corner. So if someone has concocted a reliable method of allocating your time in things that really deserve it, please do share. My time management tool is a guillotine. Every piece of content or entertainment has a time frame in which it has to make itself interesting, otherwise it has to say hello to my sharp friend. Even after passing the initial test, there are still pitfalls to avoid on the way to long-lasting merriment.

Online articles (if I’ve bothered to move past the headline) are constantly beheaded by my guillotine. Getting the ingress done right is difficult enough, but to write a whole article without patronizing, pointless endorsing, factual mistakes, self promotion etc. seems to be really hard. Not to mention the other 27 article tabs in my browser just waiting to be clicked. One fumble and you’re out.

Things are especially rough if there’s a lot of potential quality on my to-check list. It might all come down to the littlest things. For example Justin Cronin used one super lame sentence in the book The Passage – and swoosh said the guillotine. It takes one cumbersome mission in Fallout: New Vegas. One flash ad that loads too long. Even good content might get guillotined because of a misleading tweet that took me somewhere I didn’t know I was going. And yes, it is taxing to know that I’m missing out on stuff because I have this monster of a system. But even more frustrating is that when I do have time to spare I seem to find myself at /r/funny time and time again. Fast food is all too appealing for digital appetite as well.

P.S. So, what happened with XCOM? I failed, got my team slaughtered, went out and got NBA 2k13 and never looked back. Boomshakalaka!