The recent US election has gotten me thinking a lot about non-physical clutter.
One of the habits that has made a huge difference in my level of consumerism, and thus the amount of physical clutter I have, is being aware of my television watching tendencies. This doesn’t mean I don’t watch tv, I do, but it does mean I have become more and more picky about how I watch tv.
It began with simply muting during commercials. This was back in the days before streaming, and I didn’t have DVR, tivo, or any such recording devices beyond a VCR.
It wasn’t long after I started doing this that I got dissatisfied with my cable service provider and decided to do away with cable all together. I was working a lot anyway, plus I had a video rental membership and access to a great library with lots of DVDs to borrow, it felt like an easy choice.
This was right around the time that Netflix and Blockbuster started doing their DVD mail-in programs, and once Netflix streaming gained hold, watching tv I actually wanted to watch without all the commercials was finally a reality.
I have to admit I wince a little every time I’m somewhere that tv commercials are playing these days. It feels so grating on my energy that it’s hard to believe some times that I once had the tv on for hours at a time without blocking out any of that barrage coming in.
The place where I’m house sitting now has cable tv. I browsed thru the Guide section a few times when I first arrived to remind myself of what a large number of people in the world are subjecting themselves to every day. But after that, I tabled it, it didn’t seem interesting and I went back to my normal streaming habits.
Until the day of the US election. I was curious enough to turn on some live news, but I was careful to push the mute button before I did.
There is so much noise in television these days –
and I don’t mean simply audible noise necessarily – I mean the fear that is pushed forward, and the flashing lights and quick visual changes that are used to keep people excited to be there.
I wasn’t able to watch more than a few minutes even with the mute button on, it was far too overwhelming to me visually to even think about watching more than that. A true spectacle it was, and a great reminder to me of how easy it is to plug into that place of fear when plugged into the tv news.
As it happened, about ten days before the election, I listened to a lecture by one of my teachers where he brought up his own observations about some of the differences in social media platforms. He felt that there is very little accountability on sites like Facebook and Twitter and pretty much anyone can blast their opinion all over it in a way that makes the energy go Splat.
He suggested that sites like Reddit and Quora have much more accountability built into their systems, such that, if something blatantly isn’t true, that person is going to get called on it. Not true in the same way for other social media sites (I find myself searching Snopes a lot when I see posts on Facebook these days).
My teacher propsed that if your goal is to really gain knowledge on a subject and not just hear a bunch of opinions to try out Reddit and Quora instead.
Being someone who rarely takes some one’s word for it when it comes to such matters as this, I decided to try it for myself, a bit of an experiment if you will.
It was quite easy for me to let go of Facebook. Easier than I had expected. There are times I have really enjoyed Facebook to connect with friends, but because I have also used Facebook as a tool to promote my business, I am connected to a lot more people on Facebook than only those who I consider good, close friends, and this tends to lead to a whole lot of blah blah blah that shows up on my feed sometimes.
Funnily, my husband and I refer to Facebook as the Blah Blah’s, as in, “Did you check the Blah Blah’s today?” or “Did you see the picture Megan posted on the Blah Blah’s? So cute!” (It’s going to be a thing, just watch! Hahah).
I do have tools I use to manage what I see on Facebook, but it takes a certain level of management that I’m not always up for.
And sometimes what’s easier than management is doing nothing. Kind of like in the saying, organizing less stuff is better than organizing more. Managing less stuff is easier than managing more.
My resolution was to not log on until after the election at least. I was pulled the morning after when waking up to the stunning news of the new president to log on and see what the reaction was of so many people close to me to this news.
And I’m glad I did, but after my little experiment, I do see an even greater level to which Facebook type social media sites throw me off kilter if I’m not really careful about how I manage my energy when I visit them. This some how makes the pull I sometimes feel to log on unconsciously a lot less appealing.
How about you, have you noticed the different effects media, like tv and social media, have on your levels of consumerism or with how you engage with others? I’d love to hear about your own experiences in the blog comments below!