Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Some people fear they will die before accomplishing anything significant with their lives. I fear that I will die before I see all the movies on my amazon wishlist

I have hundreds of books, hundreds of movies, a handful of video games, and 15,142 songs in my possession. I have access to an infinite amount of music, videos, games, and literature online, as does anybody with internet access. Although I may be a bit more critical than most with my judgments, I still enjoy a wide, eclectic variety of entertainment. And even though I am more discerning than a lot of people, there is still just way too much good stuff to read, watch, and listen to in one lifetime. With more outlets for artists (or people claiming to be artists) than ever before, more material is released than ever before. Since we are a global society, we now have access to artists and art from all around the world, without leaving our homes. The technology we use to access this art is improving at the speed of light. It's become a cliche (and the theme of some horrible television ads) that consumers can't keep pace with the new products coming out. Of course, as you get older, you have more and more responsibilities in your life that cut down on the time available for enjoying a 2 hour movie uninterrupted.

"I'm going to see Joyful Noise and that's final! I'll finish the report tomorrow, Mr. Bernstein!"

You turn on the tv and there's 2700 channels to choose from (and Law and Order is on at least 35 of them). Online, you can watch or listen to virtually anything ever made. It's overwhelming.

I'm not the only one that feels this way (thankfully). In fact, author and futurist (I want that title!) Alvin Toffler wrote about "information overload" in 1970, when computers were as big as a house and there were 3 channels on tv. Toffler believed that the accelerated rate of technological and social change overwhelmed people, who were more accustomed to slow, gradual change. This rapid change leaves people disconnected and they become "future shocked", suffering from stress and disorientation. 

Curtis Mayfield gets it.

I read Toffler's book, "Future Shock", a few years ago and it was mind-blowing. It's one of those books full of brilliant ideas that seem so obvious after reading it that you feel dumb for never having articulated the ideas yourself. It was a perfect description of what I was feeling and what our society and culture were going through; and it was written 40 years ago. 

Every now and then, I get that sense of being overwhelmed by choice. There are no less than 20 restaurants and 4 large grocery stores within a mile radius of me, and yet, some nights I take hours figuring out what I want to eat, finally settling on whatever is still open. My cable service offers hundreds of movies and shows on demand, in addition to the hundreds of regular channels, but sometimes I can't decide on anything good to watch, so I get stuck on Seinfeld reruns for an hour before I fall asleep. In the past 2 weeks, I literally downloaded (LEGALLY... TOTALLY AND ABSOLUTELY LEGALLY) 1,200 songs to my ipod. I'll never listen to most songs more than once, but I like having them there, "just in case".

I don't think Toffler would be surprised that depression and ADHD are so prevalent in our society. It's the paradox of choice; with so much choice, people feel like they will undoubtedly make the wrong one, so they end up either not making any choices, or regretting all their decisions and not being able to enjoy the reality they chose. 

I can certainly sympathize. After watching Hall Pass, I was very depressed that I didn't choose literally anything else to do with those 2 hours of my life.

Jason Sudeikis: Cause of depression in millions of Americans.

My creative writing teacher in college gave a lot of good advice, but one thing he said always stuck with me. When creating something, there are an infinite number of directions to take. As a writer, I can talk about anything in any style I choose. What's important is to make a decision and stick with it. Now that seems pretty simple, but as an aspiring artist, I felt it was profound. It really speaks to the self-confidence and focus one must have in order to even begin creating.

I think this extends to all aspects of modern life. Sometimes the simple choice of what cereal to eat for breakfast can leave people standing in the aisle looking like Rick Perry at a debate.

Do I want the Honey Nut, or the Multi-grain Cheerios? And then there's Count Chocula lookin' at me over there...hmmm.

Make a decision and stick with it. Yes, that's easier said than done, especially with so many options, but it's the only way to accomplish anything. If I spend 30 minutes trying to pick out a movie, I'm going to fall asleep before I see the end of whatever movie I eventually choose. If I sit on the couch for an hour contemplating whether I should read, watch a movie, or go jogging (that one rarely wins out) I'll end up doing none of those things and just watch Seinfeld reruns for an hour before I fall asleep. And if you think you have deja vu after reading that, imagine how I feel after living it.

So, be confident that you will make the right decision (or the best decision for yourself at the time) and go for it. You'll get a lot more done if you stop contemplating the infinite possibilities of every action and simply take action. The number of shows on your DVR will decrease in no time.

I Love You All...Class Dismissed.


Zach Potter said...

"And even though I am more discerning than a lot of people, there is still just way too much good stuff to read, watch, and listen to in one lifetime."

I agree, at times I am almost jealous of being part of my parents generation, I remember stories my pops told me about him growing up... him and his sister up early on a Saturday morning watching a test pattern waiting for the cartoons to transmit (can you imagine!!!!). Then I blink twice and realize how blessed I am to have the "problems" I currently do as far as what content to disseminate on a given evening. I got a 4 TB hard drive full of music/tv/movies/documentaries/live concerts/etc. of which I have only listened to/viewed maybe 1/2-1 TB. Not to mention my current obsession with viewing things as they happen on ustream et al. In fact I write this response with the heat golden state (70/59 heat) in one corner of my screen, my face book in another and twitter in another...and a Google search up just screaming at me to search for increasingly filthy porn...and we expect the youngins to be able to pay attention in school...i digress...

Unlike you I didn't mind the hours lost watching Hall Pass...the scene where they are trying to escape on golf cart/panic room cracked me up...although I guess it could have been edited to 10 minutes and I would have liked it just as much. Unfortunately, or fortunately that's the age we live in...2 hour hall pass horrible...10 minute hall pass funny. I bet you that same movie 30 years ago would be "ground breaking". We grew up part of the MTV generation where everything is a 2-8 second cut scene. That why lately in an attempt to find happiness I have started to practice transcendental meditation...its a struggle.

In the end (nice freshman in high school literary conclusion...I'm drunk don't mock) we need to be happy for our choices. I'm gonna check out Toffler on your recommendation (like I don't have enough to read/listen to/watch) and I will pass on another futurist (agree with you one of the coolest things you can be labled possible ever...second to donkey dick)Jacque Fresco @ http://www.thevenusproject.com...shits literally changed my life.

Keep up the good work. Peace and love.

Zach Potter said...

Update: Watched a sick NBA comeback (see what happens during overtime...hope the heat suckit) on http://www.firesport.net/2011/08/watch-basketball-live-daily-nba-fiba.html while during commercials hearing a weird yet new angle of the Tupac Bigegie shootings at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/15698457...yeaaaah choices....adapt or die

Prof.Thug. said...

I got 99 problems...and they are all first world problems, so I'm pretty lucky.
I appreciate the comments man.
It's funny because I was gonna talk about my experience with meditation, but decided to make that into a separate post later.
Def check out Toffler. In doing (minimal research) I saw that he's become somewhat of an icon, and he has written several follow-ups (which I wish I had time to read). And now I have all these websites to check out on top of everything...thanks a lot donkey dick!
Peace and love homes