Scrolling through Reddit reading post after post, comment after comment. Watching TikTok after TikTok. Scrolling through Instagram only to see an endless succession of glossy and perfect photos. Staring at a screen watching episode after episode. Doomscrolling in the news feed… stop it! How much time do we spend doing that? My take is that it’s more than we’d like to admit.
I get that we often do that because it’s very, very easy; we can be mindlessly scrolling in the public transport, at home, while waiting in a queue and at times even when we are meeting our friends if at that moment nothing is going on! I just can’t accept that. You see, it’s so much information that, although we do think that we are viewing is quite significant, in the end we aren’t able to remember the vast majority of it. The experience of viewing that many “interesting” things ends up in our memory as an unremarkable event we can easily forget the details of. To better explain myself, I’m going to talk about the perception of time.
Perception of time when consuming media:
This section is about how we feel time. For instance, when we are waiting in a queue or we are subjected to a boring class, each minute seems to last forever. In contrast, when we are spending some time with our friends, hours seem to fly by very quickly. Those are two examples of how we feel at that specific moment how time is passing, and it’s called prospective time perception.
On the other hand, though, we also have another type of time perception which happens after the event: retrospective time perception. Using the same examples as before, even if the clock is moving at a painfully slow pace when you’re waiting in a queue, in the end nothing significant happened during that time period, so you’re bound to have almost no memories about that event. After all, you can just brush that off as “a really boring while”. In contrast, when you’re having a really good time with your friends, you’re most certainly going to remember a whole lot of details about that day.
I promise I’m not making that up; I can relate that to my own experience because I often remember small details about having fun with my friends. Something like: and that day in December 2019 my friend got into a shopping cart and we pushed him around the empty parking lot until the security guard told us off. Thanfully, the security guard was very nice, so we didn’t get into trouble. In short, your memory often keeps the most exciting or outstanding moments.
If we put all this into a chart, it should look like this:
|SUPER BORING||WOW, SO EXCITING|
But wait a second… there is a third pattern of time perception.
Behold, the short-short time perception pattern. Time will fly by like you’re having a great time, but you will be so overflowed with information that you won’t remember anything significant from that experience.
If you’ve reached this far in this article, you’ve been passively consuming it. The problem is that well, what I’m saying is something you were probably already aware of. Additionally, you probably think that nothing can be done about this issue. I suspect that thinking that you simply can’t help it is very common, and in some way I agree: very often this activity seems to be the only available option. As I’ve said before, scrolling on social media is very convenient in many, many different situations, so it’s no wonder why it’s so common.
The thing is, I refuse to believe it’s the only option.
Just think about the possibilities: when you’re waiting at the doctor’s or when you’re commuting in public transport, you could be reading instead. If one afternoon you don’t know what to do, you could phone up or text a friend. Bear in mind that your friend might be feeling down and in need of interaction, so even if you don’t know what to say, your friend will appreciate it.
Alternatively, now that it’s summer you could plan activities with friends or do them on your own. In fact, you don’t even need to plan anything; just tell your friend if they want to go out for a stroll. The whole point of this article is that I believe people our age should cut down on the time we spend doing meaningless media consumption and turn to other people or to ourselves. It’s not that I believe we should «completely eradicate» that habit; let’s not be so extreme. But yeah, I do think that in far too many cases it’s too much, and in my opinion the idea of creating content sounds more attractive than just consuming it.
In conclusion, if you want to take heed of this advice swap some viewing time for time for creativity and time for socialising!