The name of Kanye’s child does not matter. Neither does the score to last night’s Texas Rangers game. Nevertheless, I know both. I would prefer not to know about the former, but the latter is strategic. And it’s not because I work with athletes. That is an excuse I only use when convincing my wife that I deserve control of the TV remote.
It’s strategic is because it’s an intentional mental escape. I use sports to stop thinking about work as I fall asleep. Otherwise, I don’t fall asleep. Sleep is good, so sports are good. I used to feel guilty about this. I should use that time to pray for orphans. The reality is that I should pray for orphans, then not feel guilty about dreaming up fantasy baseball trades as I fall asleep.
The problem: for many of us, otherwise unimportant information has become the primary mental pursuit. And the more we consume of it, the less we become capable of differentiating importance. Is your classmate’s political opinions worth arguing about on Facebook? Do you really need to know what you’ve missed in the Twitterverse over the last 20 minutes? Would reading Kierkegaard make you more creative, a better writer, and improve your capacity for deep thinking? The more you consume, the less clear those answers become. (hint: No, no, yes.)
The real question: are you guarding the type of information you feast on? Have you kept the silly gossip news, sitcoms, and sports updates as the dessert after a long day, or have they become the main course?