Too Much Content, Too Little Time
I don’t really get sucked into the vortex of the internet. I don’t read my Facebook newsfeed. I don’t spend hours on Pinterest or Twitter. Even though I know there’s lots of interesting content on all of the above, I’d have to wade through so much crap in order to get to it that it’s not worth it to me. I just don’t even go there.
But… I’m a personal-development-o-holic (as you probably know if you follow my Twitter or Facebook feed… which I post on, I just don’t browse it very often. Yes, I get the irony.) I listen to TONS of podcasts on personal development: productivity hacks, biohacks (i.e. how to optimize human performance and efficiency), business and marketing strategies, overcoming fears, inspirational personal success stories… that sort of thing.
Now, when I had my old iPhone 5, for some reason I could only subscribe to five or six podcasts at a time before my phone ran out of space. Because there were only a certain number of “seats” available, I’d delete one in order to download another. I’d consume everything that particular podcaster released, and inevitably, at the end of each week I’d run out of content and move on to listening to audiobooks or music. It worked beautifully. I felt satisfied, the same way I’d feel after finishing a good book.
When I upgraded to the iPhone 6, though, I guess I got new software that either had much more space, or automatically deleted podcasts after a certain date or after I listened to them… I don’t know how it works. But bottom line, now I can subscribe to an unlimited number of shows. The result? I’m overwhelmed by the number of new episodes my phone downloads each day… no possible way I can get through all those. I find myself deleting episodes before listening to them based on the titles (“Heard that before… don’t need to know more about that…”), or deleting them if they don’t grab my attention and promise me something I value in the first few minutes.
Basically, I developed a short attention span. And I hate that, but it’s adaptive, I have to admit. Many of those episodes might be great, but there’s simply not enough time for all of it… so I don’t end up doing justice to any of it.
And this got me thinking. Both my grandmother and my husband hate the grocery store, because there are just too many choices! “Why can’t there be just three kinds of ketchup? Why do you need thirty-five?” they’d ask. My grandmother once told me that sometimes she’d feel so overwhelmed that she’d just leave without buying anything at all. (And actually, as I listen to the podcasts on marketing, I’ve learned that this is not uncommon: an auto-parts store that sells one brand of motor oil will do well, and they’ll do even better if they have three. But more than that, and they sell substantially less of all of them. Too much choice is universally overwhelming, apparently.)
This is also the reason why I don’t usually read books by indie authors, even though I am one myself and I’d love to support other indie authors. But there are just too freaking many of us! How would I choose where to start?
(A little aside here: any indie readers out there, how do YOU choose where to start? I’d love to know.)
When self-publishing began, the pool of us was so small that we could stand out by offering freebies, so the risk to the consumer stayed low… but now, there are SO many books out there doing the same thing that it’s not enough anymore. That’s market saturation, I suppose.
Solving My Own Problem…
As I write this, I realize I already know the answer to my own content over-saturation problem… Since, y’know, I *am* a personal-development-o-holic. I’ve heard a thousand times that you can simplify your life (and thus, decrease your stress level) by limiting your choices. Having too many options is stressful… so artificially impose your own limits if you have to. Just because you can download every free book on Amazon or subscribe to every podcast in the world doesn’t mean you should. If you do, chances are high that you won’t read or listen to any of them.
Aaaaand…I just deleted about eight podcasts. Okay then.