The largest waterfall in the world
Kaieteur Falls is the largest plunge waterfall in the world. Located deep within the Amazon rainforest in Guyana, this unique waterfall spews a record-setting 175,044 gallons of water—every second—over an 822-foot cliff.
If you’d like to visit, you can fly into Kaieteur International Airport which is a 15-minute walk from the waterfall. It looks like this:
Why are we talking about waterfalls?
The record-setting volume of Kaieteur Falls—175,044 gallons per second—is comparable to the modern human’s inundation with digital content. The “drinking from the firehouse” metaphor no longer applies. We are are now in waterfall territory. The water is being produced by the usual suspects:
Instagram: 50 million images/videos uploaded per day
Facebook: 350 million images/videos uploaded per day
Netflix: 120,000+ hours of stuff to watch (the tastiest water, it seems)
Twitter: 500 million tweets per day
Not included: Linkedin, YouTube, Snapchat, Reddit, news outlets, etc.
How thirsty are we?
The average Instagram user drinks 1,060 images/videos per day
The average Facebook user drinks 1,160 images/videos per day
The average Netflix subscriber drinks 10,260 video-seconds per day
“Staring at squares”
It’s a silly observation, but have you noticed our cell phones, laptops, tablets, desktop computers and TVs are all square-shaped? And we stare at them. A lot. Humans are spending 11 hours per day staring at our screens. Let’s take a moment to let that sink in.
In other words, we spend 11 hours per day “staring at squares”.
Of course, having near-infinite information at our finger tips is fantastic. The proliferation of information via the internet has powered immense innovation, education and commerce. But the fact remains: we spend 11 hours per day staring at squares.
Sidenote: Staring at Squares would make an excellent band name.
The value of focus
As author and hedge fund advisor Adam Robinson put it, “The one thing humans need to know is how to control attention.” (podcast interview by Shane Parrish, Winning at the Great Game - Part I) Even if we can wrap our minds around the 11 hours per day figure, the questions becomes: what are we focusing on? Or, more appropriately, are we focusing at all? Or are we just standing underneath the waterfall getting pummeled?
It is important to figure this out because focus is how we direct our energy, and where we direct our energy determines our course/happiness/results in life.
Excuse me, why are you staring at your square?
“F&*^% you man, I’m reading the news!”
News is a commoditized exercise in confirmation bias. Can you tell me one piece of news from last week that impacted your life? Actually, can you recall any piece of news you read last week?
“Sorry, I’m at work. Can I help you?”
Looks like you have Slack, Chat, and email open (squares within squares!) Do any of these sub-squares have anything to do with your #1 priority for today or this week? Digital distraction is a real-thing at work.
“I bring my phone with me for my morning poop. It’s what I do.”
TMI, but maybe bathroom breaks are a good time to collect your consciousness, count a few breaths, relax, and regain your focus vs. directing it elsewhere. What if you took advantage of these natural breakpoints in your day?
“Oh, I’m just checking social media while waiting for the 30x bus.”
The data suggests you spend 2-3 hours per day on social media. Can you share one meaningful interaction that social media created for you last week? Liking baby pictures doesn’t count.
“Hey I’m just trying to unwind after work and watch some Netflix.”
The data suggests the typical Netflix customer consumes 20 hours of Netflix per week. That equates to 19% of your non-sleep life. How has Netflix made your life better?
New Year resolution
It’s become fashionable to HATE how people are “always on their smartphones,” but I think that’s avoiding the inevitable. Smartphones are here to stay, we just need to moderate our usage and understand how and WHY we use them.
Therefore, my resolution for 2019 is to be more intentional with how I consume digital content. I want to go to the waterfall with a water bottle, fill it up, and then leave. I want to avoid mindlessly standing beneath Kaieteur Falls with my mouth open getting drenched.
As Warren Buffett has said, “I can buy almost anything. What I can’t buy, is more time.”