Stealing Time and Filling Up

(cc) Flickr user jtravism

Really fantastic post from an old classmate and research colleague of mine (and all around great guy, without whom I never would have completed research for my own thesis) on coming to face the reality of wasted time. He puts it into the context of a really solid frame, “The Threshold of Care.”

There will always be a unit of time, a unit of anything really, that is indivudally beneath counting or caring. That could be 3 minutes, eight-nine cents, one more bite, one more wedding guest. Individually there is always room for this unit, just beneath the “Threshold of Care” and it’s usually a single noun. Psychologically it’s just simpler that way, “always room for one more”: person, dollar, line, guest. Beneath the Threshold of Care anything goes, that’s why ninety-nine cents was pioneered as a marketing device (and later as folks got wise to the ninety-nine cent phenomenon, the ninety-five-cent and eighty-nine cent innovations).

One thing that will move that imaginary line in the sand, to me, is the barrier of entry. Cost is obvious, but what about access? Is the $1 worth it if I have to get in my car to drive past three places that are $1.29? Higg makes a great connection with a different kind of threshold – communication – and it hinges on this notion:

While a phone conversation runs the risk of going over the Threshold of Care, a text stays comfortably beneath it. Even an exchange of texts over the course of an hour can remain, at least in our minds, beneath the threshold, like those six eighty-nine cent burritos from Taco Bell.

Try to stay with me because I want to take this a step further to overprove my favorite point. Newspapers aren’t “dying,” (a) completely and (b) because of our shrinking attention span. Having information “first” is just a terrible business model that MSM refuses to let go over high-value content.

You remember how we always used to be told, “Don’t fill up on bread” before a meal? That’s what’s happening – it’s truly the bite-sized messages or blog posts that we don’t let creep above into the realm of information overload. MSM may start writing shorter articles, but it really isn’t out of a need to fit into what we want. It’s not a shrinking tolerance for hard forms of media; it’s the power of a crowded, specialized marketplace that is filling us up before a big meal.

Just save room for dessert.

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