Back in the day, one read the daily newspaper to find out about important events around the world, across the country, and in one’s local community. By the 1960’s, the source for news had shifted to the television, primarily because of its coverage of the war in Vietnam. However, newspaper readership was not eviscerated by television. Today, of course, if it’s on the Internet it has to be true and if it’s not on the Internet, well, it virtually doesn’t exist. If it’s on Twitter or Facebook (apparently depending on your age), you can take it to the bank.
Today, I learned the following from a well-known Internet source. (I almost called it “reputable” but I just couldn’t do it):
Katy Perry designs shoes.
Military “Meals Ready-to-Eat” known as MREs have a label which includes a silhouette that reminds people of President Trump.
Hong Kong is being overrun by wild boars.
American tourists do at least 20 things that the world hates.
Thanks to some tiny Pacific Ocean islands, The USA does not have the most obese children in the world.
I could go on, but armed with this knowledge, be assured that I’m much better prepared to face the world.
Back in my childhood days, it was not the information, communication or computer age, and I was raised by a dad who was not formally educated, hardworking, tough, no-nonsense, high expectation, wise farmer. Dad paid $6 for a year’s subscription to the daily NY Times–even though we lived in this hick town of Bakersfield, in Central California. At the time no one was speaking of information overload–much less “fake news.” Yet dad had the “future sight” to tell us 13 brothers and sisters–of which I was youngest–
that we must be careful with the news–newspaper, radio, TV–because it would consume our time and cause a poverty of our attention.
I was born in 1956 and I was about 5 years old when I remember dad saying that “attention” is our greatest and most precious asset. And I believe this to be more true today than it was in dad’s day. In a world filled with distraction, attention is our competitive advantage. The more shallow information we expose ourselves to, the more we papercut our attention and limit our ability to focus deeply. The unfortunate thing is our mind “chews on” this sensory food long after we consume it—and the subconscious of our mind becomes our own worst enemy—like a virus affecting the peak performance of our computer. Information must be contributory and rewarding, and be about action, not distraction.
In the media and journalism, for example, there is a term–“bury the lede”– which means to begin a story with lots of details of secondary importance to the reader, while postponing more essential points or facts much later in the article or story. This captures our attention, but ultimately wastes our time because nothing of substance shows up until we read 30 paragraphs. We must develop a better understanding of how temptation works on our brains–and cultivate new strategies for enhancing self-control, and focus on substantive information.