After I started this series of posts, I worried that I had worded one of my goals for this year as “read less”. That would need a lot more explaining than “surf less.” Surfing is an apt metaphor for much of what I do.
I probably read as much or more than ever. But my reading patterns have changed dramatically. I skim through tons of words looking for a golden nugget (or more likely a link to where I might find a golden nugget) but there’s less and less engagement with the material.
I do little “web surfing”, but I do have a voracious appetite for the information that the internet provides and find myself easily distracted by one more link. According to Google Reader, I follow 150 feeds and have “read” 1,508 items in the last 30 days, not to mention the tweets of 102 Twitter-ers and the wall posts, comments, likes, YouTube videos, and Farmville requests of 569 Facebook friends. While I use RSS (aka, “news”) feeds for a lot of purposes and have reconnected with old friends and made new ones through Facebook and Twitter, I do feel like I’m surfing on a tsunami of information, afraid and unable to stop for fear of being overwhelmed or missing something important.
I’m building “graveyards of information”, stuff I collect but don’t use. Michael Krahn introduced me to this helpful concept in his “Graveyards of Information” blog post. But more than following the advice of John Naisbitt, “when you begin to monitor something new, you must drop something else” (cited by Krahn), I need to stop monitoring new things and I need to stop letting my focus stray.
I’m being shaped by my media consumption. I need to focus more and surf less.