I’ve said for years that one of the 20th century’s large problems was humans having to learn to live in a world of unlimited sugar, fat and salt.
One of the 21st century’s large problems is humans having to learn to live in a world of unlimited information.
Both problems involve overcoming our evolutionary programming to scarf up as much of what used be a limited resource as possible.
300bps - source
We're living in a world where information is infinitely available. No one will ever be able to consume even a fraction of it, this begs the question then why even consume? Or rather what is the most important thing to consume?
I optimistically believe that pretty much anything in the below list can be "let go" as its long term impact is negligible (atleast to me):
- Twitter Feeds
- Notifications (except security and bank transactions)
- Offers & Discounts
I'll expand a bit on each of the above.
Any news big enough to of real value will reach you via friends & family, or will come up in a conversation. Infact it's best to let your personal connections know that you never read news and if something is life changing they should contact and let you know.
Sorting through constant email is really tough.
Not only is there a huge context flush when reading emails (1st email might be of some cool hacker project, the next will be from some zen guru), but most of us have multiple emails.
Email subscriptions from bloggers, companies, hackers, world leaders, etc might seem like a good way to keep up, to learn, and to grow yourself. But how many emails are you actually reading?
All that knowledge isn't critical to your life. Everytime I open hacker news or reddit and read something interesting, I ask myself the question:
If I died without knowthing this piece of info, would it really matter?
...the answer is almost always NO.
But that does not mean I don't want to grow incrementally. And so I do subscribe to a few blogs -- mostly philosophy related -- but only if it really really matters to me.
Ah. The good ol bird. Just a look here, and a peek there and BOOM! You've drowned for an hour in the endless stream of twitter feeds.
The worst part is that although I open Twitter to get my daily fix, but I somehow end up 10 threads deep in some random dudes profile discussing about what do kiwis eat for breakfast.
If I absolutely must use twitter, I just read the top level tweets. I don't open the threads. Otherwise my time will almost definitely Stack Overflow ;P
The anxiety is real. Too real.
I have disabled notifications for almost everything, except banking apps.
I keep my phone on DND almost all the time. I avoid having any critical bottleneck on me. Luckily DND modes have settings to allow calls from important contacts (family, best friends).
Offers & Discounts
I am not guilty of this, but ALMOST EVERYONE I KNOW is.
People just can't stop chasing offers and discounts.
- either they get tricked by ads and end up buying things they don't need
- or they end up spending a huge amount of time & energy behind it
tl;dr: Silence, mindfulness, and focus can have life changing effects. But is extremely difficult to do.
I'm hoping to get more in the flow as often as I can. And I am starting this process by getting rid of my digital distractions.