Low-Information Diet

I was inspired to write this blog post by a video from Derek of Veritasium, which you can watch here. In it he talks about constantly consuming news on his phone, and discusses several different ideas like the distraction economy and a low-information diet.

I have a similar problem to Derek: if I spend too much time in a day looking at social media and articles online, I feel weighed down. It’s very similar to how I feel if I eat too much greasy food or go too long without exercising. I feel bad in a visceral way, and the only way to heal it is to get my head out of that digital space-- to work on a project, read a book, or even go for a walk outside.

I do think that being informed is important, and with the 2016 election quickly approaching I think it’s more important than ever. However, there’s a difference between staying informed on important issues and world events and over-saturating yourself with information. For me, the main problem is social media. I am constantly checking different social media apps on my phone. Right now my primary problem is Twitter, because it’s the most interesting and updates the fastest. I use social media and YouTube both as a procrastination tool (when I should be doing something productive) and a distraction tool (when I’m waiting for something).

I’m tired of it. I’m tired of reflexively checking twitter every time I have a spare 30 seconds. I’m tired of being plugged into everything that’s going on in the world. I’m tired of this election (isn’t everyone…?). And so I’m going to follow Derek’s lead and go on a low-information diet… sort of.

I’m not going to cut everything out. Because, to be quite honest, I don’t want to. But I am going to cut back, by recognizing that my time and attention is valuable-- it’s the most valuable thing I have to give. I shouldn’t be giving it to Facebook and Tumblr and random YouTube videos. I should be giving it to the projects I’m working on and the books I want to read.

From now on instead of checking in small bites throughout the day, I will only check social media, videos, and news in three chunks: in the morning, after work/class for the day, and before I go to bed. That may sound like a lot but it’s actually a big cut-down for me… When I’m bored or waiting for something, I will either just let my mind wander, like Derek advised, or practice Chinese on the app I literally have on my phone and is fun but I never do it because I’m always checking Twitter instead.

I like to make things. That’s pretty much my whole deal here. I want to create content that is worthy of other people’s time and attention. To help me do that, I’m going to focus on the content that I decide is worthy of my own.