Wake up. Eat breakfast (or not). Check email. Check Facebook. Drive to work (listen to radio). Check work email. Check Facebook. Do whatever you work asks you to do (can we make this more enjoyable with Pandora?). 3:00. Seriously, 2 more hours? Lazily browse Facebook. Respond to a few posts. Drive home (listen to radio). Clean up. Read news/celebrity gossip/blogs/whatever is in your Google Reader list. Read book. Dinner. Watch movie. Sleep.
Our cultural norm has turned into a life of relentless consumption punctuated by some possibly creative acts foisted on us by our employers and which we reluctantly perform (one has to make a living, after all.) Around us, we see a society content with simply absorbing content.
How does an individual escape the daily cycles of consumption? There are as many answers to this question as there are people who need to ask it, but the overarching solution involves a straightforward if difficult shift in our self-perception.
After all, what does it mean to be human?
Haven't we been told that we are a species that creates? We have novelists and craftspeople and farmers and engineers. Our species has novel ideas. It has something no other species has: history. To be human is to be a Subject, a transformative force on the world. We cannot be content with a role as Objects, things that are acted upon by larger, mysterious, unstoppable forces.
This is something with which I've recently been coming to terms. Although I'm not a big movie or television guy, I do consume a lot of material from the Interwebs. Even that internet material is what I'd deem worthwhile - BBC, Al Jazeera, Wired, and Wikipedia, for example rather than desperately filing through Facebook status updates to find something I can relate to, argue with, laugh at, or just like.
Even still, it's all consumption. I'd always thought of the content I take in to be good content, whether web-based, print, or radio. But one cannot expect to be fit and healthy just by eating right. Exercise is necessary. So how do I "burn off" all of the content I consume all day?
It must be an act of creation. A blog post is a start. Creative writing is another. Here is a short list of examples. Please add to this list in the comments.
- Make a poster for something - your room, maybe, or-
- Stylize a picture you already have on, say, Facebook (these could make great gifts for friends, too, by the way)
- Learn to cook something new
- Practice the art of deliberate spontaneity
- Try to have a serious conversation with somebody (you'd be amazed at how hard this can be) - avoid triviality
- Volunteer somewhere
- Build or fix something, DIY style
- Compose a short melody (with or without words)
- Get involved in politics (seriously, I will smack that smug apathy right off your face)
- Involve others in all of the above projects (i.e. practice community)
And as you are doing these things, realize that you are deliberately becoming more human.
Our culture has moved us closer and closer to a 100% consumer lifestyle. Look at our culture's consumption habits, whether oil, food, merchandise, or media. It's bloated, to put it lightly. We are bloated. Let's work some of this off.