Monday, November 19, 2012


Just in time for Thanksgiving, a post about consumption. No, not the 18th century name for TB - or really even the gluttonous nature of our Thanksgiving feasting - well, maybe a little about that.

We do tend to eat ourselves silly on Thanksgiving. It's as if we've set aside this holiday in particular to stop worrying about self-discipline. I even heard an commercial for a local nightclub boasting that the Thanksgiving Eve party is the biggest of the year.

We've even turned it into an economic feast, shopping and buying all night long. Just go crazy. Who cares what you spend, everything's on sale and you're getting a great deal.

Of course it's easy for me to rain on the consumption parade and criticize the way our culture and society is built around the consuming of things (we even design our products to break easily to ensure their quick replacement). However, I've been convicted this week about my own terrible consumption habits.

I've read every word of every ESPN Magazine since its inception - even the articles on stuff I don't care about. I've done the same thing with TIME magazine since we started getting it a few years back. I troll Facebook for interesting links and articles from my friends.

I'm a helpless consumer of information.

Now, many who know me personally understand I know a lot of useless crap. Part of that is the way my brain works - I remember lots of useless crap. But another part of it is the sheer volume of information I process on a daily basis. I'm always reading or watching or listening to something. I've cut down recently, but there's still at least one sermon, two podcasts, two magazines and a dozen blogs, and half a dozen TV shows, I come back to every week. That's not including the various links that come across my news feed and email or the (generally) 2-3 books I'm reading at any given time.

It's a lot of information.

Can I say there's nothing valuable there? No; I do get a lot out of those thing. Can I say there's enough valuable things there to make it worth the time and effort? I'm less sure about that.

But I don't think it's about the amount of information I process, so much as the process I go through to get the information.

I'm constantly busy trying to occupy the mind. I've worked a few moments of quietness and solitude into my life as a spiritual discipline, but I'm afraid they've just become part of the routine rather than an escape from it. I go from one thing to next, always nervous I'll miss something or be left out of a conversation because I'm not up on this event or that idea.

It's not about buying. I'm notoriously cheap. It's about consumption - the need for more. Our society has filled us, whether we like it or not, with an innate desire to have more, do more, know more, be more. The things we measure ourselves by are constantly growing and changing - so we have to keep consuming to keep up.

We even do it in the faith community. We push people to be more involved, more committed, a better Christian. I don't have issue with those things in the generic, but almost universally define them through consumption.

It's rarely about depth or balance; it's usually about more and the next big thing.

Why haven't I gotten to know more people? Maybe because they're low on my priority list. I'm not the kind of person to consume people or relationships, so they tend to take a back see to my information addiction.

I don't know how exactly to navigate this problem going forward (it just hit me yesterday over breakfast - and yes, I was reading), but I am determined to figure out how to keep myself informed and entertained, without being consumed by consumption.

We'll see how it goes.

No comments: