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Would it make me feel better to finish my gaming and media backlogs?

I was watching a video the other day on one of our community’s favorite subjects, gaming backlogs, when a particular question caught my eye. The video’s host asked, “Would it make me feel better to finish my backlog, presuming that it could be done?”

I think that’s an excellent question, because it helps to deflate a lot of the self-assigned pressure to “finish” these arbitrary piles of media content that we stock up in our lives. Sometimes there’s extra pressure because we’ve already paid money for some of these things (on sale, no doubt) and feel extra bad if we don’t play them (and thereby justify the purchase).

Like probably many of you, I have sizable backlogs of all manner of media. I’m approaching about 1,000 movies I want to watch and review (and for every one I do, I tend to add two more to that list). I have 70 audiobooks on standby I haven’t listened through yet. I did throttle down on my Kindle purchases, refusing to buy any more until I finish the dozen or so that are squatting unread. Between Epic, GOG, and Steam giveaways and sales, I have some 300 games tucked away for rainy (or not rainy) days. There are scads of TV shows that, hey, I’d like to watch at some point. And, of course, there are all the MMOs that can’t technically even be finished.

So what is one to do with backlogs? Answering the above question is a great way to start, because if we’re truthful, the answer here is “No, not really.” If I finish a list of whatever I wanted to consume for fun, then after a brief momentary flash of achievement, I start filling the list back up. If wiping out the backlog only momentarily wipes the slate clean before it’s refilled, what’s the pressure or point of pushing myself into crazy levels of activity to drain it in the first place? There probably isn’t any.

Media should never be our master. It shouldn’t be calling the shots in our life, demanding our “work,” or pushing any sort of expectations or stress our way. That’s why I have these lists, as a way to control the chaos and assert my dominance. The list ensures that I have options and won’t forget things I want to be there, but it doesn’t create an expectation that it’ll ever be done. I can just go, “Oh hey, I have a little bit of time to read a new book, watch a movie, or I’m in the mood to try a game I’ve never played before. What do I have on tap?” If I’m feeling particularly motivated, I might even organize some of these lists to push the items that interest me the most to the top of the heap.

But yeah, I’m long since done trying to clear out media backlogs. I fully expect to kick the bucket some day with a whole lot left undone. But as long as I enjoy what I’ve done and don’t let backlogs overwhelm me, I figure I won’t have any regrets in this regard.

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One thought on “Would it make me feel better to finish my gaming and media backlogs?

  1. Good points here, glad you shared them. Sounds like a healthy and realistic view. Also makes me think of moderation. I agree, even if we clear our backlog(s), new stuff will be added back to them soon enough. I already have at least two big new games I plan to buy next year when they’re released. There’s always more. I try to push the best of the best to the front of the line and enjoy those first. More generally, having endless entertainment is a modern luxury that we simply take for granted these days. It’s a luxury that wasn’t common not so long ago, and it could once again become scarce. Make the most of it, and don’t let it own you.

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