Finding Time to Write, Part 2: Selective Ignorance

Pen WritingIn ‘Finding Time to Write’, I offer methods that aspiring writers can use to free up time for their writing, or at least make the most of the time they have. In part one, I talked about having to actively make a choice to follow your passion.

Today’s topic: selective ignorance.

Do you have any idea how much time the average American spends online every week? The most recent studies indicate it’s somewhere between 23 and 27 hours.

That’s right. Roughly a full day per week. 1/7th of all available time. About 20% of all waking hours. And the numbers are even higher for young people.

Consider that for a minute. 20% of all waking hours are now spent on the internet. So how are those hours spent?

Well, the studies I took my numbers from counted texting as time spent online, so that’s part of it. But what about the rest? Social media is a big part of it. Checking Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, Linked In, and more. Then there’s news, and not just traditional news. There’s business news, sports news, health news, science news, and entertainment news, including movie news, music news, and book news, not to mention all kinds of niche news available on all sorts of sites. Then there’s blogs, webcomics, humor sites, online magazines, internet radio, and fantasy sports. And then there’s the ever popular standby: idly surfing the web for hours on end with no intended purpose.

Which brings me to the topic of selective ignorance, or the active eschewal of useless information.

You see, I think part of the reason we spend so much time online is an underlying desire in all of us to feel informed. But there’s valuable knowledge and then there’s completely useless information.

Consider a random sampling of the sorts of information we all (me included, I’m as guilty as everyone else) spend chunks of our day amassing every day:

–       The opinions of a family member’s one-time friend on the validity of Obamacare

–       What a high school classmate you haven’t seen in a decade ate for breakfast

–       Random pictures of someone’s dog, or a dress, or homemade miniature cupcakes

–       Details on an injury suffered by a college football player for a school you never attended and don’t have any affiliation to

Does this ring true with you?

Let’s face it. Most of the information we accumulate on the internet is totally, absolutely, and completely useless. We don’t need it. We can just cut it out entirely and not miss out on anything important.

So if you’re a writer, or really anyone looking to free up more hours from a busy day, consider enacting a policy of selective ignorance. True, you won’t know what all of your friends and acquaintances are up to or who won last night’s game or what people are saying about the latest political snafu, but do you really need to know?

I think not.

*Editor’s note: I do acknowledge the irony of my encouraging you readers to spend less time on the internet via my online blog. Clearly, my blog is one of the few online sources of information you should prioritize, mostly due to my razor-sharp wit, my penchant for literary wizardry, and the sheer bodacity of my writing. 

Image credit: By Jonathan Reyes (jpaxonreyes) (CC BY-NC 2.0), via Flickr.

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