What I Read

Inspired by The Wire‘s Media Diet, I felt compelled to record all that I consume on a regular basis (“regular” meaning whenever I get the chance to unload dozens of saved tabs via Google Chrome’s add-on OneTab).

Before I even begin to start listing them (edit: this is not a comprehensive list of everything I read but I cover most), I already feel overwhelmed. I know how ridiculous my own media diet is but I can’t help it. With that, here I go…

My media diet begins before I really even wake up. It’s rare that I awake in the middle of the night and don’t check my phone for notifications on Facebook and Twitter and even new emails via Mailbox, because, as you’ll see, I get a crazy number of emails daily. In my half-asleep stage, I often only see a couple headlines after realizing I have either only one or no notifications. Honestly, I’m not processing anything of substance—it’s just a “bad” habit.

When I do actually wake up, I check my iPhone and often see news alerts from AP, USA TODAY, New York Times; emails from Groupon (subscription came after ordering almost all my holiday gifts from there…), Business Insider (the 10 things I apparently need to know every morning, if I wake up after 8 or 9 a.m.), Bloomberg Global Tech, and sometimes newsletters from the day before I hadn’t gotten around to checking, e.g., NextDraft, PandoDaily, The Daily Beast, Upworthy, and Fast Company.

Of course, the more unread emails I have, the more overwhelmed and pressure I feel to make it to inbox zero. And trust me, reaching inbox zero happens at least several times a week, despite the massive number of newsletters (often containing long-reads) I sift through. But this is where Pocket and OneTab kick in. Somehow though, Pocket has failed me. And using OneTab has made me realize why—I keep the OneTab tab with the never-ending list of articles, websites, and videos I save open all the time, whereas with Pocket, for me at least, it has been incredibly easy for me to just click the Pocket Chrome add-on to save a webpage, but that only means that I probably won’t bother or remember to get to it until months later. Really. I’m scared to open up my list on there. I mean, I’ve only recently started using OneTab, and I already have 60+ tabs saved on OneTab. Well, now it’s 59, but I pray I never reach higher than 70. The difference with my pages saved on OneTab and those on Pocket is that I actually actively try to decrease the number of tabs I have on OneTab.

Anyway, enough of that, though that is truly the majority of my unhealthy media diet. As soon as I get more newsletters, I scan them to see what I would be interested in reading or watching and open them all up. Thanks to OneTab, I don’t have to worry about the number of tabs overheating my laptop (though it still happens, and when it does, I use OneTab—it sounds like I’m being paid to write about OneTab—I’m not—but I just have a physically and mentally burdensome media diet that OneTab seems to help but is really making worse…).

Anyway, other sites/services I subscribe to include The Atlantic (the cities and Wire sections), several sections of Fast Company, Quora, Feast Hacks, Betterific, Google Alerts, New Yorker, HerCampus.com, Wired, and BostInno. I really like The Atlantic‘s newsletters because they’re just so simple and easy to go through, compared to, say, Dave Peller’s NextDraft. Don’t get me wrong—his newsletters are very useful and clearly take quite some time compiling, but when faced with 10+ other newsletters to scan and delete, I need to prioritize. So whenever I see The Atlantic Cities show up in my inbox, I usually read that first. “Reading” just involves scanning the headlines. No descriptions or large photos that make it annoying to scroll through (sorry, Fast Company). Speaking of, Fast Company’s newsletters often overlap, in terms of content. I find myself deleting most of them without clicking anything after checking out the headlines, simply because I’ve already read the articles. Eventually, though, I make it through even the longer newsletters.

Now, you’re most likely wondering—Why the hell do I subscribe to so many newsletters? Well, if I trace this habit back to maybe even a year or two back, I definitely did not have such an insane, unrealistic habit. It started off simply with The Daily Beast, a site I learned about from a classmate while taking an intro to journalism summer course at the University of Maryland, College Park in high school

To me, receiving emails on the morning’s and afternoon’s top 10 news stories made perfect sense and made me feel somewhat informed about the world. I remember, however, a period when I had unsubscribed from the newsletters from lack of interest. I just never put in the time to read The Daily Beast’s newsletters, which now seem like nothing compared to, you know, 924038 newsletters. I just stuck to Facebook and Twitter for news, but soon realized they weren’t enough. I felt I seriously lacked a media diet in college.

And so, my addiction to newsletter subscriptions begins. Despite knowing how much I’m already backed up in terms of article-reading, I continue to subscribe to more and more, in hopes of being as literate as possible in news, technology, business, design, etc. Hey, Inc magazine. You need to fix your newsletter subscription page. I can’t subscribe on my Mac on any of my three browsers. It can’t be a sign, can it? Anyway, I do it because I feel like I need to. But do I really want to? Sometimes I do. Now with so many articles to go through, I’m not so sure.

As a college student now enjoying winter break, my daily reading schedule changes. But on school days, I would wake up as early as possible (toward the end of the fall 2013 semester, I was accustomed to waking up between 6 and 7 a.m., despite not having class on some days until 9:30 or work until 9 on others.) I would spend at least a half-hour dedicated to cleaning out my inbox, while telling myself I also need to catch up on work. Throughout the day, whenever I get the chance during lunch or after class, I would read more. With no job or classes to worry about for now, I generally get to my tabs whenever I have my laptop open.

This habit/diet has progressively gotten worse, as I don’t remember being so overwhelmed in terms of how many articles I have saved to read. Something has to change, or I will never enjoy my break. At the same time, it would feel incredibly rewarding (among other emotions) to finish all my saved pages—though that may take several months of dedicated reading. It certainly doesn’t help that all these sites have created “best of 2013” lists, multiplying the number of apparently best long-reads and other articles by 100.

It’s an endless cycle, and I think it’s called an addiction. But I’m determined. I’ll get through these. Eventually.