The end is nigh, and the two horsemen of the apocalypse are 1 and 0.
It’s common knowledge that the internet is making us stupid, taking away our ability to focus etc. etc. That’s bosh, of course, but the truth is that the internet does make it incredibly easy NOT to focus. Distraction is always out there, easy to access (in the time it took to write this intro, i resisted the urge to open up Reddit thrice. I’d hate myself, but it’s common knowledge that visiting reddit/r/aww eliminates the ability to hate), friends wont stop sending me stupid (hilarious, but stupid) jokes on Whatsapp, and then there’s clickbait. So. Much. Clickbait. They are the equivalent of McDonalds French Fries – zero nutrition, but oh so delicious. “10 Worst Donald Trump Hair Memes” does to me what red Kryptonite does to Superman – assuming red Kryptonite makes him want to click through a slideshow of badly Photoshopped images with glazed-over eyes. I don’t know man, red Kryptonite is weird.
So anyway, in the interest of my sanity and in order to ensure Buzzfeed lists aren’t the only content I consume, here’s my five commandments to a more fulfilling online existence:
Commandment 1: Thou shalt no succumb to clickbait, for it is a lie – Come on, by now you know any article title ending with “…will shock you” will never,ever actually shock you. Also, the items listed in “7 Little Known Facts About Resident Evil” are little known because absolutely no one cares. Just….stop. It’s never worth it.
On a side note, I stumbled into this cute website that takes clickbait headlines and makes art out of them. If you HAVE to follow clickbait, let it be this.
Commandment 2: Thou shalt not skim, even if the article is really long, like more than 3 minutes long – “Please read every fifth word of what I wrote, the rest are superfluous”, said no author ever. If you can skim an article without losing its flavour, then it wasn’t very enriching to begin with. Abandon, rather than skim.*
*Caveat for news articles. Of course, if you are reading for information only, skimming is acceptable to get to the point.
Commandment 3: Thou shalt finish reading one piece of content before switching – I blame hyperlinks. It’s easy to jump from article to article, clicking on another tab the moment the current one gets a little bit boring. It’s the channel surfing of the digital age, and it’s just as bad,
Commandment 4: Thou shalt abandon thy stupid quest for “the best” content – There’s this dumb marketing phrase (but I repeat myself) called FOMO, or Fear Of Missing Out. Defined as “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent” – it’s how I feel about content, subscribing to an unsustainable number of publishers, video channels, Facebook Feeds, just so I don’t miss out on great content in my niche. Now, I have hundreds of unwatched videos and thousands of unread articles, and the little numbers next to the app icons are a constant reminder of how much I have missed. In my quest to create a walled garden, I have created an overgrown jungle, all because I was scared of missing out.
Prune the fat. No matter how much you try, you will miss out on good content. Accept and move on.
Commandment 5: Thou shalt step out of thy walled gardens – I mentioned this in another post, but the TLDR version is this – the internet makes it incredibly easy to ensure I never stumble across any content outside my area of interest – and that’s a horrible idea. By only following content creators and publishers in my areas of interest, I am shutting out all other perspectives, resulting in an insular and regurgitated worldview. Instead, I’ll take some time every week to identify subjects I have no interest in, and consume content welcoming of newcomers.
Do you have any such commandments? Let’s exchange ideas and start talking. I’d love to hear from you.