We live in a miraculous age of innovation and information. All of the knowledge the world has gleaned, all the things it’s still trying to learn, all the stories people have written, a huge chunk of the experiences normal and extraordinary people have are ours to consume. We have the opportunity to learn from them without having to experience it ourselves, to share what we know to make our future better, together.
If we engage with what we’re being told.
There is such a huge volume of information flowing through each person’s consciousness on a daily basis that it’s impossible to remember it all. Half the time, it’s difficult enough just to cling onto what is aimed directly at you.
But if you can learn to listen through the white noise to the things that really matter, that’s when you can start to use that information for good. Whether you’re scrolling through your Twitter feed or having a conversation with a friend, it’s important to be able to know what it’s worth paying attention to.
And it’s not always easy to figure it out.
When you stop to think about the kind of information you absorb in an average day, you’ll realise how much of it is rubbish. You probably know what new burgers McDonald’s has out this week even if you haven’t been in months. You’ll probably have a vague idea of the films that are out soon, the TV shows that are back on air now. You probably know far more than you need to about the bargains and deals that various tat shops are offering.
Get into a few simple habits to keep your mind alert and things will get a lot easier very quickly.
CARE ABOUT WHAT YOU COULD LEARN.
It has to matter to you. Whatever you’re reading, watching, or even just staring at on the bus, has to be something that you want to consume. Advertisers take advantage of the fact that you’ll look at a poster because it’s more interesting than the floor and it clogs up your mental energy. You can’t only look at important things, but you can make a conscious effort to dismiss the stuff that stinks of bull from the start. It’ll free up your time to concentrate on the worthwhile things.
DIFFERENTIATE NEWS FROM GOSSIP
It might seem obvious – and sometimes even directly stated: what else is going to be in a ‘gossip mag’? – but it has absolutely no impact on your life which celebrity you’ve never met and never will meet has had new bum implants put in. Remember that. If following gossip is something you enjoy, then don’t let anyone tell you not to indulge on occasion. But remember it doesn’t make a difference. Don’t waste so much time on the idle nonsense that you forget to keep up with the things that matter.
Once you know what’s important and what’s not, make the effort to read those important things. It’s one thing to realise that local politics and the global economy are things that have a huge impact on your life (they are – you just might not have noticed) but another matter entirely to sit down and learn about those things. Most people skip the difficult stories, the bits of the news they don’t like or understand. Don’t do that. You won’t learn anything, you won’t appreciate the way the world works. If you want to make the most of the knowledge that’s available to you, you have to go out and get it yourself. And that doesn’t mean bookmarking it for later. That means clicking the link now.
CULTIVATE YOUR FILTER
Once you’ve got a grasp of sieving through the static, you’ll not only be able to ignore the blatant propaganda, but also start to automatically dismiss anything that doesn’t pertain to you. You can develop your criteria for what matters and what doesn’t for as long as you need until you’ve got it right. Keep working on it until you can almost immediately dismiss the guff.
You’ll find that the world becomes a lot less cluttered.