Living in perpetual asynchrony

Right now, I’m in the midst of Tehran (Apple TV+), Banshee Season 3 (Amazon Prime Video), Scam 1992 (Sony LIV) and Stranger (Netflix).

And in the middle of Works Well with Others – An Outsider’s Guide to Shaking Hands, Shutting Up, Handling Jerks, and Other Crucial Skills in Business That No One Ever Teaches You, by Ross McCammon, and Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are, by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz… both on ebook versions.

And in the middle of The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson, and Girl in Landscape, by Jonathan Lethem… both on audiobook versions.

How is this possible, you may wonder.

It’s just that I find it more interesting to not be struck with one TV show or one book at a time. I barely watch about 60-75 minutes of TV a day, of which 60 minutes are dedicated while I’m running on the treadmill, so it doesn’t feel like watching content for content’s sake. And about 10-15 minutes of ebook reading in the middle of the day. And about 20-40 minutes of audiobook listening as I sleep.

I really like the idea of wondering, “What should I watch today?”, and trying to rejig my mind to fit into the mood of what I watched last in that particular show.

It’s like meeting a friend after a few days.

Sometimes, my mind makes some intriguing cross-connections between a book’s character and a TV show’s happenings, and that gives me something interesting to think about too 🙂

It also feels like I’m truly making very good use of the pause button, and the feature that allows me to continue from where I left across all forms of content – TV shows, ebooks, and audiobooks. After all, these are on-demand platforms, not by-appointment platforms like conventional TV of the older times where you need to fix your life to watch something because it plays at a particular time.

Such piecemeal consumption would have impossible a decade ago. The physical book equivalent would have been trying to read 5-6 books at the same time frame/period, using bookmarks to stop-start each book at various points in time.

If you find this odd, consider the fact that almost every on-demand platform is being consumed only in this way now.

Our email inboxes usually have emails, read, and unread. We read them when we want to, and not necessarily obsessively at one.

Our social media feeds are all endless scrolls… we drink what we can at a given point, close it, and do something… get back to it… repeat.

Our office feeds too, on platforms like Slack, are similar.

I look at a WhatsApp message that just came in via the notifications and decide whether I want to read it now (and let the other person know I have) or go back to whatever I was doing and let the message wait.

I really do not appreciate phone calls from strangers anymore. It breaks the flow of what I’m doing at the moment and gets more riling when it is a pointless spam call.

So, our overall interaction with real-time content seems to be reducing. It’s almost as if our minds are adjusting to a new world of asynchrony. We seem to be intent on pausing everything around us (because we can) to indulge/focus on something for the moment which is something that did not happen at that moment.

There are exceptions, of course – live news/sports… meetings, which are no video calls and so on. And hence anything-live, and in-the-moment, with unpredictable interaction and outcome, may be valued a lot more by us. This is one of the reasons why ‘Stories’ feature on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter (Fleets) or LinkedIn is being replicated all over the social media eco-system – it is content that will cease to exist, so we tend to give it more attention because of Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), though this is manipulated FOMO, not natural.

Cover pic courtesy: Freepik

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