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Getting Out of the Consumer Mindset

February 7, 2012 7:11 pm by

When you wake up, what is the first thing you do?  For me, its checking my email and Facebook.  During that small amount of free time after showering and brushing your teeth, I, probably like many others, like to sit down and ‘catch up’ on what’s been going on on the Internet since last night.  Now, usually this catching up tends to lead to me being late to my class (despite Berkeley time), and in general, putting me in a mood for the rest of the day where I am always looking for more interesting and cool stories/links on the web.

Ironically, 2 days ago I came across this particular comment on reddit, where people were sharing small lifestyle changes that impacted their lives.  Redditor accex brings up an interesting point on people being a producer or a consumer, and (s)he says that starting the morning as a ‘producer’ has made him/her much more productive by realizing how much of a distraction the web can be.  Specifically, this quote was really good:

This keeps you from falling into the needy consumer mindset. That mindset where you find yourself endlessly surfing Reddit, Facebook, etc. trying to fill a void in yourself, trying to find out what you’re missing, but never feeling satisfied.

Damn.  I think this really hit home to me because I know that I pretty much live, breathe, and consume the web.  Every morning, email and Facebook.  Walking to/from class, reddit, fb and Google Reader.  On a computer, HN, Google Reader, reddit, fb, YouTube, and so forth.  To determine how bad of an addict I am to the web, I decided to check my Google Reader earlier to see how much posts I’ve read since I started using Google Reader (that would be September 21, 2008, right about when college started for me).

394,514 items.

That’s 320 posts every single day or 13 posts every hour since 9/28/08, which was almost 3 and a half years ago.  And no, I do not simply mark articles as read when it gets too much.  I just read all of them.  Assuming 30 seconds to read each post, that’s 140 full days of my life in the past 3.5 years that’s been devoted to just reading Google Reader.  This is not even taking into consideration the time spent on Facebook, reddit, HN, and YouTube.

I have a problem

Admittedly, this is hard for me say but its time for me to cut down on the amount of time spent on consuming data and information on the web.  Being a ‘consumer’ is not necessarily a bad thing, but when it becomes addictive where you are continually “trying to fill a void in yourself” and you feel like you have to read everything out there, that’s when it is bad.  Google Reader is an excellent tool to stay updated with multiple blogs/websites, and it has definitely made me more knowledgeable on topics such as technology, gadgets, and programming.  However, using our time every day to be more of a ‘producer’ would make all of us much more productive.  For me, that’s definitely working more on my personal projects, blogging, exercising, and preparing for the real world (personal finance, investments, retirement, real estate, ad nauseum).

In all, this was just me realizing that I have been spending a lot of time with things that are easy to consume and don’t benefit much.  It’s time to be more productive with the limited time that I have each day.  As a friend of mine always say, “the most precious resource you have is time”.  Use it with care, use that time for things that matter most to you.  Stop reading this and go do something productive!

Filed under: General — Tags: , , , , , , — Jesse Chen @ 7:11 PM


Jesse is a software engineer at Facebook, who just graduated from UC Berkeley. Passionate about mobile technology and entrepreneurship, he started his own blog as a home for his tutorials, projects, and random thoughts. Follow him on Facebook to stay updated on his latest tutorials and projects.