I was going through my feeds this morning and came across the umpteenth recent post from a self-styled person of taste telling me something was “so good.” I felt a stab of annoyance at what I thought was the person until I paused to think about it and realized it was more about being told. And maybe more to the point, about setting myself up to be told something by someone dozens or hundreds of times a day.

I think part of it is having overlapping news/information sources, including a few primary feeds, a few news feeds, and a few aggregators. Sometimes I see a thing start on a blog or social feed, then make its way through the ecosystem as it’s picked up by early aggregators, echoed around, deposited into RiL and bookmark services, etc. etc.

It makes things feel sort of small and cramped, I guess. My head doesn’t go to “I’m part of a communal experience wherein we collectively unearth and experience excellence and sources of wonder together,” but rather, “I’ve once again made an echo chamber for myself, and I can watch received wisdom being manufactured in dozens of parallel information sharing processes right front of my very eyes.”

I’ve written before about my whole Cal-Newport-inspired tool and media mindfulness practices. For a while I wanted to do regular reviews, but that stopped making sense to me. Too much paperwork to just “keep an eye on what you’re taking in.” Too much personal bureaucracy and process orientation. But it was helpful to try to do it that way, because I’ve gotten better at catching it when things start to get a little out of hand. I recognize the symptoms:

  • Peevishness over the wrong turn of phrase in a headline
  • Irritation over a thoughtful essay that’s taking forever to get to the point
  • Finger hovering over the “block” button when someone shares a link I’ve seen eight times already
  • Irritable toots and posts I never send because wow, that really just doesn’t need to be said — too much is being said by too many people already

Maybe the last thing on that list is the one that bothers me the most. Getting so swamped, overloaded, and annoyed by it all that my own creative energy is siphoned off into a series of irritated moments that don’t amount to anything of any use, my equanimity dribbling away.