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Purposeful consumption

It has become a popular trope today to berate social media consumption and social media apps for their insatiable appetite for our attention.

I do this too and I've first-hand observed the incredible benefits of relegating social media to the fringes of my free time. In fact, just last month, I unfollowed pretty much everyone on Facebook and Instagram.

While a lot of the talk has been about cutting down social media time and cutting down idle consumption time (Youtube, TikTok, and the like), listening to podcasts, reading articles, reading books, watching documentaries, etc almost never figure in such conversations.

I started the year with quantitative goals on "productive" consumption like reading books, listening to podcasts and reading articles. And in the recent weeks, I've started to question that approach.

As I explored that thought process, I've tried to draw parallels between passive social media consumption and passive article / podcast / book consumption. While the vast majority engage in the former, a small minority engage in the latter. And it is usually those that engage in the latter that are painting ills about the former.

However, the two are not dissimilar unless the latter leads to real action and improvements.

The "productive" consumption is only different because it has the potential to be productive. But merely engaging in that form of consumption isn't productive in and of itself.

As this realization has dawned on me, I've started to be more purposeful about my consumption so as to curate what I consume to match the actions I can take immediately and the learnings I can incorporate, while skipping over others that do not match that profile. Even when this means I may not hit the initial consumption goals I had set myself at the start of the year.

I will explore what this means to me further in the coming weeks and start defining goals around the actions that I want to take and then track back to what I need to learn in order to achieve that and consume accordingly. Which means, I won't have goals like "Read one book a week" in the future.

However, I would still like that to be a consequence. If I choose improvement goals that are ambitious enough, I might need to read a book a week (or more) to get there. But the consumption won't be the goal and will be replaced by the learning and improvements the consumption will lead to. 

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