Megaphone Cyclone
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Megaphone Cyclone

Christin

The Megaphone Cyclone interview

My name is Christin and I’m a clinical marketer in the pharmaceutical/biotech industry with a neuroscience research background (let me know if you know anyone hiring!)

One of my principles this year is to create more works of substance, instead of subsuming works of others. This aspiration comes from realizing the role of information overload in reducing creative output. This seems counter-intuitive, because having more knowledge should stimulate more original ideas, right? But lately, I find that the intake of information takes away both the time and the mental space needed to make something anew.

Yes, and the strategy is to understand why I am seeking information in the first place. Often the cause is mental discomfort — either anxiety about a task at hand, or boredom from a lack of (over)stimulation. I used to be obsessed with finding the “latest lifehack!” that can reduce information overload (see below.) But now I see that it’s more helpful to catch myself in the mental discomfort stage and remedy by reframing the task at hand to be more entertaining. How can I trick myself into having fun, so I don’t feel compelled to distract myself with mental stimulants in the form of information?

Secondarily, there are tips and tricks to dial down disruptive input, but they are less important than the hard work of figuring out why one wants to distract oneself.

Supportive tactics to reduce disruptive Input

  • Turn off all phone notifications except for channels where one might expect urgent messages. Consider using do-not-disturb even during the day.
  • Unfollow as many people as possible on social media, especially internet-famous people. It took me a while to realize that while I enjoy well-composed creative content, I rarely derive value out of day-to-day updates from their creators.
  • Use an RSS reader like NetNewsWire, avoid high-volume news and treasure low-volume thoughtful writing.
  • Unsubscribe from all but 3 superb email newsletters (convert the rest to RSS feeds if need be.)
  • Turn on digital well-being or equivalent on the phone at bed-time, such as the do-not-disturb mode and turning the screen monochrome.
  • Spend 1 day a week in nature, ideally with poor internet reception.

Yes, I can be found on Rickshaw, a Discord run by Buster Benson. That’s pretty much it!

This question is tricky to answer because communities come and go. But here’s what I recall — back in the 90s, the internet felt more like the Wild West, where people created and communicated for their own sakes instead of for social approval, since the incentive mechanisms (likes and thumbs ups and hearts, and advertising money) were not yet created. My drive is to find this ethos again in online communities.

  • I’m trying to revive the 90s internet by following Indieweb principles e.g. POSSE (Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere) for my website.
  • Otherwise, I communicate through small (~3–5 people) chat groups with real life friends on Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, and LINE.
  • I have abandoned Facebook since 2012. It wasn’t out of some grand principle about their corporate practice — I did it at the time to annoy my friend who works there. (The trickster part of my soul can be quite determined!) There have been minimal negative consequences I’m aware of, besides missing a social media post or two from my gym. I am not sure if there are positive implications either — even though I do not have a Facebook account, I am not convinced that my data is removed given that people I know still use the service. And I use Instagram and WhatsApp!
  • For future abandonment, I would like to seek alternatives to services that contain embedded advertising, such as Instagram and Twitter. By using browser-based ad blockers and paying for YouTube premium, I’m almost able to live a completely ad-free online existence.
  • Do you have any strategies for dealing with information overload?
  • Who do you admire as someone who handles information overload with grace, and how do they do it?
  • Have you abandoned any means of communication in the past? Why? What were the consequences?
  • What are some good sources of information/communication that make you feel nourished, rather than overloaded? How do they achieve that?
  • Which questions would you like to ask other people that do this interview?

Read more: Buster answers these questions here.

About

Megaphone Cyclone is a series of interviews about information overload. We have a line-up slated, but we’re always looking for more. Please email megaphone@lot23.com if you’re interested in being interviewed. Thanks!

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Jon Bell

Jon Bell

2.7K Followers

Designer, writer, teacher. I love building things.