Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

Treading Water (long)

Hi -- my name is Justin, and I'm a mediaholic.

It occurred to me, while chatting with msmemory in the shower this morning, that most people don't spend all their time drowning in their media the way I do, so most people probably don't get quite so obsessive about their media-coping processes as I. Which makes as good an excuse for an LJ entry as any, and probably provides some insight into where I channel all my own obsessive-compulsive tendencies. (And might provide either helpful ideas or harmful enabling for others in the same boat.)

Background: I am, as the first line says, a genuine mediaholic. I'm the guy that all the new-age shrinks are talking about, when they say that modern society provides us with more information than we can cope with. It isn't so much that I collect this stuff -- it's simply that I never like to miss fun information, and tend to pick up everything that looks potentially interesting. Given the breadth of my interests, that's a lot of information, and for each medium I've developed a particular mode of organization as a coping strategy.

In each case, the key problem is that I acquire this stuff as fast (or faster) than I can absorb it, so each gets organized so that I can deal with it in a methodical fashion. Off the top of my head, the media that get their own strategies are: audio; magazines; video; comics; and, most recently, LJ. Here's the organizational mechanism for each.

Audio: the least obsessively organized of the lot, mostly because I'm not quite as out of control in picking new stuff up. But between music CDs (of which I tend to buy several a month), courses (I love the history and religion classes put out by The Teaching Company), and the occasional audiobook (mainly Harry Potter), it still tends to stack up. At any given time, I keep one case of 12 CDs of one flavor or another in the car. So the music discs get stacked up as they come in, and cut with previous discs when their time comes; the courses sit on the windowsill; and the books tend to cut to the front of the line when they come in. I intermix CD cases, switching between music and courses to get a bit of each regularly.

Magazines: At this point, I'm subscribing to just a few too many magazines, and they're mostly bathroom reading. It's a small but eclectic selection: The Economist, Wired, Dr. Dobbs, and Game Developer. (Okay, not all that eclectic -- three out of four have something to do with software development.) They stack up individually, and a selection of the oldest get brought into work. They get shuffled together, with roughly one Economist (which is weekly) for each copy of the others (which are all monthly). When I get way behind (as I am now), I start to skim the Economists pretty aggressively, to try to get caught up.

Video: msmemory and I watch way too many different TV shows -- basically, all the good science fiction, and a fair soupcon of other stuff on top. So there is a Great Ziggurat of unwatched videotapes next to the TV. At this point, shows tend to fall into two categories: those that we are following more or less in realtime (Angel, Dead Like Me, MI-5) and those that get a whole season stacked up and watched straight through (most of the rest). Occasionally, we'll get to the end of a season, watch the first few episodes, and just write off the rest of it. (Odyssey 5, at this point probably Andromeda).

Comics: I buy a lot of comic books, more than anyone else I know; for reasons that somewhat elude me, it's the single medium I'm fondest of. Each week, when the new shipment comes in, they get ordered from least to best (satisfying my odd preference for saving the best for last in all things), and stuck at the end of the backlog. The mark of a truly excellent book is that I can't stand to wait -- those get read immediately. And when a limited series or story ends, the whole remainder often gets popped out of the stack and finished on the spot.

LiveJournal: It seems like, at any given time, there's one online medium that's sucking up my time. First it was Usenet; then email lists; then Slashdot; nowadays, it's LJ. I'm characteristically organized about my friends list. I don't like to miss anything, so I keep a mental bookmark of where I am. When I log in, I walk backwards to the current bookmark, then proceed forward until I run out of time. (Or, once in a great while, actually get caught up.)

And then there are books, which are simply hopeless. Since they're not nearly as ordered, I simply have the large backlog of unread books, which I pick stuff off of more or less randomly when I have the opportunity.

I suspect that, one of these years, I'll have an epiphany of some sort, and cut my media consumption back to levels that a normal person would consider sane. But like any addiction, it isn't easy to break. And hey -- I can comfort myself with the fact that even my comic book habit is a lot cheaper than most other drugs...

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