Do you consume more information from social media, news channels and memes than you’d like? Have you tried to shut down all social media, newsfeeds and emails so you could give yourself a mental break?
Then let’s start with you are aren’t alone. It seems all modern humans with internet access are struggling with their ability to limit the amount of information being shoved into our brains.
The Social Dilemma on Netflix does a fine job of explaining how content producing companies armed with human behavior analytic technology are exploiting the most vulnerable parts of our psyche to keep us hooked on their data flow.
There are thousands of articles and videos that describe the negative impact of information overload, so I’m not going to share more of that data. What I am going to share, however, is how I’ve managed my wellbeing, without really cutting back on the amount of information I consume.
As a journalist, I have to read often and in mass quantity to have the relevant information needed to write well thought out articles. There was a time I consumed so much information, I had to shut down one of my news sites, because reading the news daily and then writing about it was just depressing.
So I tried to stop reading, I went offline and stayed off social media for extended periods of time. But that wasn’t a practical solution because my business requires me to be on social media and for better or worse, most people I communicate with use social tools as a means of communication. So the life of a digital hermit was not working for me, even worse it was costing me money.
While searching for a healthy balance it dawned on me, I don’t need balance. I need better quality information that enriches my life and I want a lot of it. I love reading about space, cigars and psychology, if I could read on these topics all day and talk about them over coffee with like-minded people would be heaven for me.
So instead of limiting my infovore diet, I just changed it up to include nutritious content. This isn’t any different than your food diet. If you aren’t careful, your daily intake could quickly become filled with food choices that literally eat away at your insides as you eat them.
The solution to a bad food diet isn’t to stop eating food, its to make better food choices. I applied this same philosophy to my information consumption. I’m too curious to just stop reading altogether. My business also requires me to be plugged in, even more so than the average person.
So I decided to control the type of content I consume. I downloaded the Kindle app to my phone and instead of scrolling through social media in the morning or getting my daily dose of Google News, I’d read whichever book I put into my queue.
This year alone, I have read 6 books and am on 7 right now. The books I’ve read this year have included astrophysics, marketing, masculinity, the history of humans, etc… The quality of knowledge I’ve gained from these books has been 100% better than the retail grade passive content flowing through all of my digital information channels.
I’ve also expanded my vocabulary and when I speak with people, I have much more to talk about than work, politics and sports. This has also helped me filter people out of my life because the people I speak to now are generally into a higher level of thinking and that always makes for a richer conversation.
Everyone has an opinion on politics, but it takes a learned person to have a well thought-out opinion on humanity’s expansion into the cosmos, the impact of psychedelics on human evolution or changing dynamics of human relationships.
While these may not be your interests, once you start drilling deeper into the reservoir of knowledge in your hobby of choice, then you too can start to refine your network of likeminded people.
The technology industry does this very well as programmers hang out with other programmers and their collective knowledge has changed the world that we live in for better or worse, but you can’t argue its effectiveness.
So next time you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through social media, or reading the same headlines from industrial news machines, try looking for a book on Kindle or searching for topics that you are actively interested in.
This will help you divert some of your screen time towards actively consumed information versus passive, curated information based on what a computer algorithm thinks you should be reading.