phuu is Tom Ashworth

Consumption Addiction

28 Mar 2012

Extra Credits is a weekly video blog that takes a deep, analytical look at games and the games industry, but in a friendly and engaging cartoon package. I love it. In season 3, they spent two episodes discussing game addiction; the second of which was an extremely honest and very moving story told by the show’s writer, James Portnow, about his struggle with an addiction to gaming. I found it fascinating — it’s 20 minutes long, but I really think you should watch it.

It made me think about addiction and compulsion, and so I thought I’d share a habit I’m trying to break: consumption addiction.

I don’t mean food; I mean consumption of information. I mean podcasts, videocasts, blog posts, tutorials, talks and any other form of digital content you care to name, including Twitter.

The internet makes it stunningly easy to access a wealth of information on a very large scale, and more is added faster than is consumable. While this is one of the reasons I love the internet, I fell a trap where I was consuming so much I wasn’t creating.

On the surface, it feels great; learning, gaining knowledge and understanding is fantastic, and that’s why it’s so tempting to keep on consuming, even when I felt the nervousness that comes with creative drought.

At worst, I’d spend many hours in a day watching every single video I could find containing a few of my favourite people (across a variety of topics): Christopher Hitchens, Dan Dennet, Richard Dawkins, Ryan Dahl, Paul Irish, Sam Harris, Jason Fried and others. I’ve watched some talks, lasting over an hour, 4 or 5 times.

I would have days where I’d become very depressed because, after all that, I hadn’t created anything. Nothing had come of it and it had no tangible benefit. I realised I was consuming merely to pass the time, and using it as a way to escape from real work.

This is where my Create More Than You Consume post takes over. Now, I’m trying my best to create something every day, blog as often as I can and generally be a source rather than a destination for the information on the internet. I still value consumption extremely highly — there’s nothing I enjoy more than learning something new — but I need to be a creator, not a consumer.