Never Ending Now

"Broadway Boogie Woogie" (1942-43) by Piet Mondrian

"Broadway Boogie Woogie" (1942-43) by Piet Mondrian

The structure of our social media feeds place us in a Never-Ending Now. Like hamsters running on a wheel, we live in an endless cycle of ephemeral content consumption — a merry-go-round that spins faster and faster but barely goes anywhere. Stuck in the fury of the present, we’re swept up in dizzying chaos like leaves in a gale-force wind. Even though on the Internet, we’re just a click away from the greatest authors of all time, from Plato to Tolstoy, we default to novelty instead of timelessness.

I scroll Twitter a lot these days. I feel the urge to keep up, to be constantly fed with the latest tech news or I'll shrivel and waste away, as if learning about how this company open-sourced another small model that performs better than GPT-4 on benchmarks will provide the life force to keep me alive. Perhaps I'm foraging for patterns and data, learning how to grow my account to 1k followers and achieve success. Or I'm purely escaping the distress of difficult tasks requiring high intensity of attention and focus. Instead of filling up the brief moments in between of work and "non-work" with more stimuli and information on a fatigued brain high on cognitive load, I should be looking out the window, staring at the corner of the ceiling, chat with my parents, or just pause the Spotify player that's constantly streaming vibrations into my ear like it's my lifeline, and close my eyes and take a deep breath.

The question posed by David is "How can you prioritize the accumulated wisdom of humanity over the impulses of the past 24 hours?"

Could it be a matter of values and agency?

What differentiates a person who scrolls on an endless feed of social media and someone who blocks out time daily to read books like "Epistulae Morales ad Lucilium"? What allows one to be complacent with wasting their precious days away on meaningless, mind-numbing, dopamine junk food, and what drives the other to improve oneself by lengthening the gap between impulse and action and focusing on developing oneself?