I wanted to write about what my take on news and information is for some time now and now that I have watched this great video on Distraction Economy, I found myself a reason to write what my thoughts are on it.
The thing about news and information is that with internet there is an overabundance of knowledge to consume. As Derek from the video says, it really is an economy of distraction. Everyone wants your attention. People make money off it. I think it is important to realize that.
I agree on the fact that information often brings you power however I also believe one should judge the quality of the information that one receives. Not all information can be treated equally. I think everyone should have a certain filter for it in place with very well defined rules.
So how should one judge the news you receive? I’ve found for myself that knowledge that is actionable, that is knowledge that you can immediately use in your life to be the most important. This is something that you do not want to filter and should strive to receive. Often this information comes out of your own initiate. This is the kind of knowledge that you often take a conscious decision to find out and read about. It may be immediate knowledge like trying to find what this error the compiler threw at you means or perhaps you are just curious. You are curious to know about something, whatever that something is. This something may not be actionable per say and often you may get lost and derailed. Essentially one should try and not read for the sake of reading but read with a purpose. Are you reading this because you really want to know this topic or are you reading it because you are trying to find something to read and occupy your time. Not every action you make should have a purpose but I find it valuable to be conscious of the actions that you make.
Then there’s passive information. That is knowledge that is the opposite of actionable. It most often brings no value to your life. Most news fall into this category. For me this category includes reading about politics, terrorist attacks and going through most of the media content there exists out there. I am not interested in reading about it not out of ignorance but very often this information does bring no value to my life. I cannot do anything about the terrorist attacks that have happened in Paris. I cannot change how the political situation looks like in US.
I think it is also important to realize that reading and consuming new things brings pleasure. It releases dopamine and thus your brain is wired to read and find out more. It is important to realize that because very often the actions that we do happen subconsciously. Out of habit. Building great habits and building them early in life is in my opinion the best investment of time one can do in his life. So how can one battle this omnipresent attention seeking internet culture?
Firstly I try my best to live a conscious life. That is life where I am aware of every feeling and action that I make. However this is just a goal. Reality is much different than that. We are very often at the mercy of our biology. We often do things not because they bring us value but because we derive pleasure from them. Here is what I do.
I simply block the websites that I find myself to waste my time on. For me these websites include Facebook, Reddit, Twitch, Twitter. I have recently even added YouTube to the list. These website are kept blocked for me for the most majority of my day. I can only visit these websites 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening. That’s it. I try and visit these websites any time outside of that time frame and my request gets forwarded to some other port where I am met with a quote of my choice. I get all my news from hckrnews and some hand made twitter lists that I have made that suit my interests best. I also use Reeder to stay on top of my crafted with time selection of great blogs that I follow. The times that Reddit is open, I have a very short time to try and get the most out of it.
I love the discussions that happen both in Hckrnews and Reddit and find a lot of value in them. I also quite like to be up to date on what great products that people have created this week. There is a wealth of information out there. Just choose wisely what you read and remember that most often it is books that are generally most packed with actionable information. I myself am trying to read more books this year.