Endless information was supposed to help us become better. We’re usually now lost choosing from a limitless digital ocean and may never feel satisfied. Instead of falling for every piece of fancy media, it’s better to consume what matters most.
This will vary for each of us and can be found by asking deeper questions about what’s important for us individually. Before learning how to narrow down on the limitless content available to us, I’ll take you through why it’s healthier and beneficial to cut down and choose.
Too much is too bad (Paradox of Choice) -
You may already know this crap, but I’ll rush through it to build context to this article. There are thousands of brands offering the same product or service at around the same price and quality, both price and quality constantly fluctuating to compete in the oversaturated market. Now, how do you choose?
Whatever choice you make, you’ll regret it, either immediately or a while after buying it. This endless amount of choices will remind you of everything that you’re missing out, no matter the choice you make.
This Paradox of Choice is the most simple way to understand how endless choices lead to endless dissatisfaction.
Judging crap (Escaping the Bandwagon) -
How do we normally consume media? Most of us make choices based on views, box office numbers, reviews, ratings, awards, recommendations, and opinions of others. Yet, we can sometimes feel like we’ve wasted our time but do not show that we hated what we consumed.
If many people liked it, then it’s good, right? This makes you question your own tastes and interests by wanting to be a part of the majority. (the Bandwagon mentality).
Now, just like you, most of these other people in the society would have pretended to like it because someone who they admire told them that they liked it. And this goes on in a chain until it goes to a popular person who is paid to represent it for promotional reasons. Objectivity is harder to find that you think of.
Even if it’s an honest opinion, it’s still an opinion that is indirectly influenced by others’ opinions.
You may feel that something is crap although many people seem to like it. And you may not speak out. You’d be forcing yourself to consume something due to peer pressure, from social and cultural interactions, but mainly due to the opinions of random strangers online.
On the other side, there might be something that you like but others consider it as crap. This might make you insecure and bring a heightened cognitive dissonance, meaning a confusing inner conflict.
The best way to go past this is to judge which crap is good for you. Every masterpiece has haters and admirers as everything is made for different audiences.
End FOMO (The universal poison) -
Humans have a common weakness that’s exploited by media brands and marketers every day. We go online and are bombarded with people who have already made their dreams come true and living the best lives over. Or we’re exposed to extremes of human cruelty and injustice by social justice warriors who show their struggles to save the world.
Both of them can be equally evil, as your online attention to their content helps them exist at their financial level. This makes it harder to know what’s real and what’s not, sending most people into the Post Truth screwup. Media, in any form, is directly or indirectly commercial. They feed off your psychology of Fear Of Missing Out.
So, f#$% them, and do what benefits you. Most media and information, whether social media, online streaming platforms, books, podcasts, cinemas, and even newspapers and TV channels, need your time and attention for their profits. But, they aren’t all a waste of time, right? Exactly, but that’s where this article goes.
Almost all media content makes you aware of what you are missing out on. And this works well to keep you addicted to a wide variety of useless content. Here’s a brutal truth –
Whatever you do at any moment, you’re missing out on everything else that the whole world is doing at that moment.
Choose wisely (Memento Mori) -
To make the right choices, I’d like to introduce a term from ancient Stoic Philosophy. Memento Mori means that you can die at any moment. Now, don’t misunderstand this like a nihilistic retard and waste your life.
Memento Mori is about reminding ourselves of our mortality so that we do not waste the limited time we’ve got in our life. It’s about making the right choices by living in the moment.
The FOMO poison reminds us of our wasted past and throws a fictional version of someone else’s life to keep you imagining a future that’ll never happen. Stop consuming these poisons and start doing real things yourself. This involves knowing what truly matters.
In a mortal lifetime, there will always be more things you haven’t consumed than what you have. Opt-out of things that don’t give you any personal value. No human can consume everything even if they have access to everything.
We have endless interests as we are exposed to endless concepts. Choose a handful of things you can’t live without. This should be based on your real interests and your individual goals that are not connected to anyone else’s opinions.
How to make better choices - (A practical guide to choosing good content) -
Instead of consuming all news, all media, all content, here’s a way to narrow down what to consume:
-Consume what is related to your professional field. (Narrow it down to a handful of professional fields that you are seriously working on.)
-Consume entertainment that you value instead of the bandwagon. (Choose for yourself rather than to fit into a group which you really hate.)
-Experiment but don’t force yourself. (Try different things to discover what you might like. Do not force yourself to stick with anything you find no value in.)
-Regulate your time. (Be aware of the time you spend consuming everything. Then regulate that time. Have time for your work and life.)
There are some deeper questions to ask yourself to know what matters to you:
- Will the piece of content be relevant and contextual in the long term?
- Is the content a trivial piece that will not be worth remembering?
- What value is the content bringing to my life and work?
- Why do I value the content? Is it because of others’ opinions or for myself?
- Will the content benefit me in any way?
- Would I feel like I’ve wasted my time by paying attention to the piece?
- Will my time be better spent doing/consuming something else?
- Will I regret or thank myself after many years for spending my time on the piece?
Now, don’t waste most of your time asking these questions about everything you consume. Try doing this type of analysis subconsciously, on instinct. That would require training our minds in different forms critical thinking for a while till it becomes natural.
This might sound simple but is extremely tough in reality. Try it and you’ll notice. When done correctly, it can save lives, making us better, escaping everything that doesn’t really matter for us individually.
Let me know what you think of this and let’s discuss in the comments. 🙂
I’m interested in learning your honest views on the issues mentioned in this article.
And . . .