I’m too young to be nostalgic. That’s what I tell myself, and statistically, it’s still true.
Gone are the days of scholastic book orders advertised at the end of paperbacks, impromptu phone calls with friends on the landline, and listening to the radio. Everything is digital now and there is so much media out there that it’s sometimes overwhelming!
From my point of view, there are a few issues that arise from this sea of free content. For starters, there is way too much of it, and not all of it is high quality. If I can write a blog and publish it online*, then Jane Doe can write a story about the moon and circulate it on the World Wide Web. I don’t think that anybody is putting much effort into fact checking these stories. So the barrier to entry for online publishing is almost non-existent.
Obviously there are some benefits to this type of freedom of expression. For example, people can share their creativity with a wider audience and with ease. Or, there might be a greater range of ideas that get generated. However, at a certain point, the quality of content that we consume should matter over the quantity that we have access to, if our time is of any value to us. So many people, myself included, waste a lot (or a little) of our time consuming free content on the web.
Moreover, what’s insidious about free online content is the way that it is curated for consumption. Spotify only shows me songs that I’ve listened to before or ones that its algorithm thinks I will enjoy. The newsfeed on my Flipboard application remembers which articles I clicked in the past in order to personalize the news topics that appear. Instagram, which started as a photo sharing application between users, now has a ridiculous amount of advertising and scrolls directly into suggested posts that cannot be turned off.
In an attempt to dial back on some of this out of control media exposure, Nick and I are trialing a no screens half-day, on Saturdays, and recently began a print subscription to the Toronto Star. The rationale for the subscription was to get well-articulated news articles that were broader in scope than what our Twitter feeds provided.
Sometimes, it’s hard to tell whether I just signed up for extra recycling in order to reminisce about a slower news cycle, or if there’s actual value in paid content. I guess I’ll let you know.
*A big thank you and shout out to my loyal readers!