Now-or-never consumption

“Happiness” is a now-or-never sort of thing. If I can’t be happy now, then I won’t be happy then. The reasoning behind this heuristic comes from an understanding of regression to the mean. Recall all those studies citing the fall of contentment back to an already established baseline once a person earns XYZ per year? Remember the stories of people lucking out and winning seven- and eight-figure windfalls of cash only to be “just as happy”? Bring into view a past extreme desire for something, thinking it will change your life, only to find that life is much the same after it’s been attained. This is the foundation of the now-or-never heuristic for happiness.

But after several weeks of re-evaluating how I behave online—and what my expectations are about the process and outcome of such behaviours—I realised the idea of now-or-never applies to my consumption labour too. Essentially, if I don’t read something as soon as I come across it, I likely won’t read it at all.

On my Twitter account, I have thousands of likes. Articles that look interesting, insightful comments, tweets with words or ideas I would like to explore, or just stuff I find entertaining. On Reddit, I have too many saved threads to trawl through. I only subscribe to about five newsletters, but they still manage to build up in my “reading” folder. Yet, despite sincere attempts to systematise consumption and incorporate regular catch-ups into my week, I never end up reading any of it. Or at least, I end up reading a single decimal place percentage of it.

Is this okay? I don’t know. Sure, I’d like to have some robot-efficiency and get through an order of magnitude more material than I currently do. But then again, maybe more information and more inputs are not the answer to whatever my problems are? Perhaps I need to drown myself in anti-signal, instead of sifting through more noise in hope of finding gold?