San Francisco, California

Stab a Book, the Book Won’t Die

If habits define identity, then given the amount of time so many of us devote to reloading Twitter, opening Netflix, checking reddit, et cetera, are most of our identities that of media addict?

This essay by Craig Mod about the resilience of books deals with how we’re forsaking our attention and intelligence for short-term stimulus and shitty feedback loops. But really, secretly, Craig is concerned with what effects our culture is having on our identity. Are these loops making us better people?

I think we all know the answer to that question, before we even read anything that Craig has to say:

...identity change (via an ever increasing belief in both your goal identity itself and the processes by which that identity is formed) happens as a cascade of incremental 1% changes in positive or negative directions. Opportunities for this percent change present themselves dozens of times a day. The best way to guarantee success is by preemptively engineering systems to reduce friction for positive habits, and increase friction for negative ones. Carrying a Kindle and blocking most media on my phone are two core pieces to my system of maintaining, believing in, and strengthening my identity as a “reader” and maintaining what I consider “healthy” contracts with apps and media.

On this note, I think I’m a very inconsistent reader. I’m happiest when I’m half-way through a book—and when I’m up until the middle of the night reading in giant gulps—and I like who I am as a person in these sparse moments of literacy. But it’s easier to binge a whole season of Letterkenny in a single evening or to watch another dozen bad reviews of Death Stranding.

Craig describes these actions, these habits, as contracts that we’ve unwittingly signed:

Choose active media, set yourself up to succeed by building systems to cultivate positive habits, but most importantly: Take a second to think about the contracts you’ve entered into as you go about your day. Are those contracts you’re happy with? Did you realize you had entered into them?