I am in a vicious game of Hungry Hungry Hippos (media consumption wise). I’m in desperate need of some media boundaries and conscious consumption. And I don’t think I’m alone in this.
Our Social Distancing Summer is making it easier than ever to sit behind our screens and consume the never ending marbles of information. Between Twitter trends, Instagram stories, Facebook arguments with racist relatives and the never ending, never sleeping news cycle this consumption is EXHAUSTING.
I feel myself believing that I can’t stop eating the marbles. I can’t stop consuming.
Because if I stop consuming I fall behind. I will no longer know what is going on. I may even be disconnected.
On the occasions I do disconnect, I feel guilty because it’s a privilege to be able to forget for a little while.
Obviously, this is unsustainable. So how do we stop eating all the marbles without falling behind with the news?
Boundaries and Conscious Consumption
Boundaries are a hot topic in the self help world. Every self help blog, book or Ted Talk I’ve consumed has mentioned them. Unfortunately, we hear a lot about them but we usually don’t get a full picture on them. Let’s break them down together before we move on.
Boundaries, by definition, are limits we set based on how we want to interact with people or things. Setting healthy boundaries allows us to protect ourselves from the energy other people or things may require from us. They can be time limits, physical limits, emotional space, or mental limits.
The important thing with boundaries is to remember that we set them to take care of ourselves NOT to burden ourselves with “shoulds” or pointless rules.
My new and improved media consumption boundaries are:
- Screen time limit of 5 hours in a day on my phone (this includes Facetime because that is still phone screen time)
- 1 hour of each social media app per day
- 1 hour of additional news consumption
- No engaging or sharing content that includes violence against BIPOC or minorities
These limits are what work for me but remember to customize your boundaries to you! If you live alone maybe up that screen time option so you have more time to Facetime friends and family. Or maybe you’re really good about not being on your phone but you watch CNN 24/7 and you need to limit the number of news broadcasts you watch. Whatever works for you!
*Reminder: Do not quit your boundaries just because you make a mistake or consume more media than intended. Some days I only use 3 hours of screen time, other days I use 6, either way I just try again the next day.
Now that I have my boundaries in place I can prioritize conscious consumption. To do this I *try* to remember to ask myself the following questions:
- Is this serving me in any way? (Ways include but not limited to: joy, knowledge or entertainment)
- How is this media making me feel about myself?
- If I were to have missed this media would I be uneducated on current events?
- Is there more to learn on this subject or am I obsessively consuming content trying to make sense of something I have no control over?
The list goes on and on but the sentiments are the same. I want to make sure I’m consuming things that are either essential or helpful to my mental or physical well being. If consuming certain pieces of media make me feel like shit (looking at you diet culture) and they are not essential or useful knowledge for me, I put effort into not consuming them.
If anything or anyone I watch or engage with starts to make me feel negatively towards myself I put it down.
If you have been struggling with media consumption or if you have been working from home and feel the need to be “on” or available all the time, I encourage you to give boundary setting and conscious consumption a try.