I’m now eighteen hours into an experiment I’m going to be trying for the next week, until 11:59 pm on April 3, 2012: I’m not going to read any comic book news sites or sports news sites. This might not sound like a huge deal to you, but I have several comics and sports sites I visit many, many times each day entirely out of habit. My brain gets bored with whatever I’m working on and my fingers will just sort of automatically Control-D to my browser’s address bar and start typing in the address of one of these sites out of muscle memory. Rarely do I have any truly compelling reason to go check these sites.
Yet check them I do. Way, way, way too often.
This is the thing about those far-too-frequent visits to Newsarama and NFL.com and wherever else — I don’t think I actually enjoy those topics anymore. I rarely read comics (which is almost a shame, given that I now own an iPad) and I rarely watch football except during the playoffs. Yet I read about them constantly. I know tons about what’s going on with mainstream comics and tons about what’s going on in the NFL… but I don’t really care. I have gained this knowledge because I feel like I’m supposed to, because doing so is part of the definition of being Me. These are Things Allens Do — or have always done, but maybe shouldn’tdo anymore (or should do much less of, anyway).
If all I’m getting out of visiting these sites is a few minutes of distraction and not any real satisfaction or edification, then I’d rather get that distraction from somewhere that’s going to let me learn something new or let me productive in some (probably creative, possibly professional) way. At the very worst, I obviously need to up the number of sources from which I’m getting input. If I take that time each day that I spend keeping up with topics that don’t really matter to me anymore and instead devote that time to something I’m more interested in now — learning another language or writing or photography or design or music theory or or film criticism or what-have-you — then maybe I’ll actually make some traction at getting better or more knowledgeable at these other things, and become generally more awesome.
This is the hope anyway.
So what do y’all do when you’re needing a little brain-break and want to keep up with your varied interests? I’m on the lookout for new inputs — educate me. :)