We live in a distracted time. There is so much content to consume, it can feel overwhelming. We spend most of our days lazily scrolling through articles, scrubbing through videos, only ever half paying attention to anything. It’s rare these days to finish a book.
But for all of the content we’re consuming, it often seems like none of it ever really gets through. None of it is sticking. That’s because either the content is ineffective (highly possible), or we’ve become numb. Most likely, it’s an unfortunate combination of both.
HERE IS A BRIEF GUIDE, WE HOPE, TO GETTING “UN-NUMB.”
Stop Consuming Junk
The more junk you consume, the less it seems like junk. Our tastes become diluted in exact proportion to the amount of clickbait we fall for. So the first step to becoming un-numb is to clear your head. To take a step back. Stop clicking links and stop caring about which celebrities had the most awkward moments of 2014. It might seem like harmless entertainment, but that stuff sticks with you. It takes up space.
Consider taking drastic measures: remove social media and email from your phone. While ostensibly these are tools of efficiency, they often become excuses for distraction. Excuses for noise. They are a constant temptation to remove oneself from a moment. They are an anesthetic from reality. Remember: The best creative ideas often come during moments of sheer, unmediated boredom.
[Your phone is] a constant temptation to remove oneself from a moment. They are an anesthetic from reality.
Trust Your Own Taste
Once you’ve cleared the junk from your mind, go in search of truly inspiring content. Trust yourself Don’t read Tolstoy if Tolstoy does nothing for you. Don’t watch Citizen Kane if every moment of the film is excruciating. The mind knows what it wants. Trust what fascinates you and indulge that fascination. It will lead you deeper and deeper toward truly amazing things.
Rewatch, Relisten, Reread
If you’ve found something that sets your brain on fire, return to it again and again. It is often only on the third or fourth watch/listen/read that a piece of content truly reveals itself. And even then there is so much more to be mined from it. You will learn more from rewatching than you ever will from watching.
The mind knows what it wants. Trust what fascinates you and indulge that fascination.
Read One Lengthy Book Every Couple Years
Trust us, you will feel good about yourself if you do this. Some recommendations:
- 2666 by Roberto Bolaño
- Moby Dick by Herman Melville
- The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust
- Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Set Aside Time
So much of our consumption is now done in the gaps, between other things. We scan an article on the elevator. We listen to music while we work. But to truly get the most out of a piece of content requires dedicated time. It requires focused attention. Set aside actual time for it. Dedicate an hour every day to watching/listening/reading. Make it your only task. Do not check your email. Do not answer text messages. The goal is to get lost in someone’s creation – the same way you hope someone will get lost in a creation of your own.
We believe becoming better consumers of content is just as important as becoming better creators of it. In fact, we think the two are inextricably related. What we consume informs what we create. And if all we’re consuming is junk, then we’ll produce junk. Therefore, becoming better readers/watchers/listeners is not just important for us as human beings, but as filmmakers and creatives as well.