Culture Psychology Social Media Tech

A surfeit of meaning

We’re consuming too much and paying attention too little, especially when it comes to bits and bytes.

Consumption eviscerates meaning. How many TED talks can you watch before getting bored of the same didactic stories? Writes Eliot on his BearLamp blog:

“When you watch your first video, it’s pretty new, it’s unique and insightful. The second delivers the same. And the fourteenth? It doesn’t matter how interesting this one is, it’s probably not the same wonderful feeling as the first video. It’s getting to be the same delivery of information. Despite being exciting, it’s also getting old. It’s losing its meaning…”

Humans starve for meaning, but it ebbs as soon as we get it. So we share it with others in an attempt to extend its relevancy and maximize our own life’s compass. But the audience is too busy or too jaded to care.

โ€œIf you don’t like what someone is sharing, posting – how someone is trying to get attention. You are saying, what is meaningful to you is not meaningful to me.โ€

Whether it’s Facebook or TED, the narrative about ourselves gets lost in the shuffle of inane abundance. We grow immune to meaning because everyone’s asking for it. The screen attention economy excites people and then turns them off; novelty drains with any platform.

The ludic loop numbs attention until the marketplace of ideas refreshes it once more.

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By Wells Baum

Wells Baum is a daily blogger who writes about Life & Arts. He's also the author of and four books.