The Math of Media Consumption

Since I shared the amount of time (or lack thereof) I have on a daily basis for media, I thought it would be prudent to also provide the reason my estimate exists and the math that led me to my estimate.

My most recent round of rumination on this subject started about three months ago, when I once again had to come to grips with the fact that I have a love hate relationship with podcasts. I really like information (as you do), but I really am not a podcast listener. I force myself in times when audio is the easiest or only way to get a piece of information to listen to podcasts or audiobooks during my commute, but it is by no means my preferred form of media.

Enter Castro and my podcast listening was given a shot in the arm by the fact that the app enabled me to subscribe but not feel beholden to a large number of podcasts. Since then, however, I have culled the number of podcasts in my feed to a minuscule number by comparison to my previous list. Just like social media, the intent of this exercise is to cut down on the noise and make me feel as though the podcast habit that I am forming is not overwhelming in those situations where I need a break from audio-based information delivery.

You see, I took a seminar about four years ago on learning styles and found out that I am a KVA learner. KVA stands for the three learning styles, as defined by the seminar: Kinesthetic, Visual, Auditory. These three styles can be rearranged in whatever way you think makes most sense to your learning, but after working through the seminar over two days, I am sure KVA is my order. In short, it means that I learn in that order—with my hands, with my eyes, with my ears—and with each step in that order, my ability to multitask while still learning takes a hit. In other words, if I am listening to audio or even someone talking for long stretches of time, I basically can’t be doing anything else, especially if the information I am gathering from the audio source is something I desire to retain.

What my learning styles should communicate then is that podcasts and other audio forms are not high on my priority list when discussing the media I choose to fill my time. I have to focus when I listen to things; perhaps, in fact, a level of focus I may not want in my daily commute. What do I miss, outside the window or in the seat next to me, if I am focused on what is going on in my ears? Music is different because I do not generally listen to music to learn and retain information, but even then I don’t have a current habit that fits music into my daily routine. And in the end, the conversation about media consumption is all about focus: where am I putting my focus, where should I be putting my focus, and what is distracting me from those areas that deserve more focus?

A few things I would like to point out, as I transition into the actual math:

I will approach this paragraph much like a mathematical proof. I will start with a statement of fact or assumption and end the statement with the remaining hours left in the day (24). If we assume that technically there are twenty-four hours in a day that could be used for media consumption, in my ideal world, at least seven hours of those hours are for sleep (17). To be fair, I consume media all day long when I’m at work because I work in and on technology, but those media rarely garner my full attention, so I will assess that seven of my eight hours at work per day are media free”, though this number is the most prone to fluctuation (10). As a general rule, I don’t consume media in the shower or bathroom (~1 hour), during and around meals at home (~2 hours1), and when I might be otherwise on the hook for another human beings’s safety (~3 hours), which I assess as about six hours (4). My commute is twenty minutes or so in each direction, so we will round that to an hour when I can consume media, but often choose not to due to the above exposition about auditory learning (3). So I have approximately three hours a day that I can generally devote solely to media consumption. Q.E.D.

In practice, this generally amounts to about an hour of reading or video-watching while eating lunch and two hours of video-watching, game-playing, or reading with my wife at the end of the day, once the kids have gone to bed. In reality, however, the numbers are never clean, I do still check social media, listen to audiobooks and podcasts, watch quick YouTube videos, etc. I don’t think most of these habits will ever change. In fact, removing podcasts from a list or social media apps from my phone don’t completely remove them from my mind nor does it mean that they suddenly don’t exist. The content continues to be created, just as with this blog, and people will continue to consume it, perhaps unlike this blog.

What can change however, as I have said in the past, is the deliberation that takes place when deciding how one wants to spend their time, divide their focus. I for one hope that I can show more deliberation, more focus, in the year(s) to come.

  1. I am the cook in our family; dinner normally takes at least an hour from start to finish to make, then there is eating it and clean up. This is the only timeframe I feel the need to explain in more detail.

Read, Think, Share, Repeat

What Are WE Doing?

I wrote a post late last week about my discomfort with staying at home. My outlets are normally work, hiking, biking, and working with people. I am privileged enough to be working from home and still be able to bike and walk around my neighborhood in safety. So damn my discomfort.

I put the post up and immediately took it down, angry with myself for posting about me, when others deserve our attention, my voice. I am here now to rectify that wrong.

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday, the day church goers celebrate the introduction of the Holy Spirit into the disciples. My family has been attending my father’s church in Chicago, IL virtually during the pandemic. If you are interested in the sermon, go here. Key highlight:

And nowhere do WE need this transformation more than in the Church. The Church in America that has been silent for too long because it has been infected too long. The Church has called itself pro-life, but it has regularly supported the politics of death. The Church has been satisfied with the status quo because the status quo has served its purposes and goals. The Church that has more concern for its structures than the structural inequities in the community. The Church maintains an outward appearance of godliness and holiness, but denies its power. The Church is so focused on life in the hereafter that it cannot bother itself with life here and now. The Church has chosen comfort over honest confession and safety over the least of these, our siblings.

I was struck by the moment of silence at the beginning of the service. Cultures use moments of silence to memorialize, to commemorate, to mourn and show respect, but I don’t feel like being silent. I feel like being loud and amplifying others who have been forced for too long to be silent.

I broke my silence on Twitter; it had been almost a year. I want to use that avenue to amplify the voices of those who shouldn’t need amplification by now. In 2020, WE shouldn’t need to be having this conversation because in 2020 WE should have fixed this problem. In 2020, WE should be talking about how to rewrite the history books to better exemplify the work of all the missing voices of the civil rights movement that most white people have never heard of, an act so mundane as rewriting history books is something you do when the work is done.

I hope people have been following Bernice King during this time because she is truly wonderful in every way. She and many others have called on white people to use their voice with other white people. Note these two great examples (and my apologies that I cannot give every person a voice after this colon): Bernice King and Ava DuVernay.

These things start at home; this change starts from within. It is our responsibility white people to talk to those that agree and those that disagree. Only WE white people have the platform that might actually MOVE those racist family members to deal with their own racism, only WE white people have the position to TURN UP THE VOLUME WITH THOSE who are ignored or silenced, only WE white people have the privilege (and therefore responsibility) to stand up when others are battered down and to STAND BETWEEN THOSE WHO ARE BEATEN DOWN AND THAT WHICH THREATENS THEM.

The following are some of the tools that WE white people have to work with that you should note not everyone has: time, money, voice, vote, safety, security, strength, freedom, power, platform, citizenship, support, energy, rest, access (to health care and food, for instance), inherent—yet almost always unearned—trust.

Parents, WE have one of the hardest and most important jobs in all of this: only WE have the ability to teach our children a better way.

My six year old has more context for injustice than my wife ever did growing up in suburban America and that is the problem. My daughter (and my two sons) will grow up knowing that these systems are broken; that they are strong enough to stand in solidarity with their siblings of color against the systems of oppression that work to marginalize and destroy; that they have a responsibility to fight due to their inherited privilege purchased with blood money on the backs of those same people they will fight with and for; that WE therefore owe our siblings of color everything WE can give.

Black Lives Matter. Black People Matter.

Let’s get to work.