#3 Should you read News?

The Why and Where of News.

Hey, Hunter-Gatherer!

Last week, I asked you if your feed inspires you or is more of an escape. People, approximately replied, "it's more often an escape."

Quite often though, your feed stimulates an outrage. In our treks across the Internet, the one thing that we always think to be important, the thing we feel guilty for missing out on, the one thing that gives us permission to share in the collective outrage/activism, is News.

'News' by definition just means New Information. And it got me asking, "With all this new information around, what do I really want?" Is it what's happening new in the state, or in the world, or in my field of work? I can only consume a sliver of this 'new' information, and who gets to choose.

Mainstream media, like our failing education system, pretends to know "what you should know about." If they actually had good judgement, they wouldn't have downplayed COVID-19 as the flu, and countries like the US wouldn't have had over 1,00,000 COVID-19 deaths already.

Is there a need to consume News? Where should it come from? How to be a good hunter-gatherer of News?


Try this

Unfollow all mainstream media, most publications, celebrities or politicians, and follow only individuals whose content and judgement you like.

Robert Cottrell was a journalist for over 30 years & editor for the blog The Browser where he posts curated content from having read over 3,000,000 pieces in the last 10 years. He redefines journalists for the modern age as experts who are not necessarily full-time writers but has a story that only they can tell. They're the ones who are in possession of all the facts and has lived the story to be able to write about it with honesty. They then share the piece under their own name, essentially holding themselves accountable. Robert finds and shares such writings daily on the Browser.

Put simply, Why should I read from journalists quoting experts, when I can directly follow the experts? The brilliant, Balaji S. Srinivasan calls for a 'decentralized media' powered by 'citizen journalists' (next section). If you don't know who he is, you will have to really learn it from his website.

Zat Rana, a prolific writer creating at the intersection of arts, science and philosophy, has the following framework for consuming news. I live by this!

...I don’t watch or follow the news, but that doesn’t mean I’m not interested in what is going on in the world. I just don’t think that the actual news outlets are the best way to get it. For me, Twitter is a tool that I use to follow either random, interesting people who think well about a particular topic or high-judgment people who filter the actual news from the noise for me. And I trust the information I get from high-judgment people far more than I do institutions because I have vetted their reasoning myself. It’s a place that I have curated to get a bird’s eye view of what is going on in the different sub-sections of the world. It’s also where I serendipitously stumble onto random new essays or writers.

And on Twitter… When you discover one great expert, you discover more.


Think about this

If there’s one silver lining to this disaster, all can see that corporate media operations are not self-correcting enterprises. We need to build a new decentralized media, staffed by citizen journalists.
- Balaji S. Srinivasan

Here are Balaji's principles for a Decentralized Media:

  1. You are an expert in something. You have a responsibility as a citizen to do citizen journalism, to share that with the world.

  2. Build your own distribution to avoid distortion.

  3. Don’t casually give information to your competitors. And media corporations are your competitors.

  4. Every company a media company. After content marketing comes full-stack narrative.

  5. The media should not be “guardians of democracy” nor “enemies of the people”. Neither guardian nor enemy, just the people. All citizen journalists.

Check out the original Twitter thread for discussions on this.

Individual monetization, distribution, reputation, content: that’s how we decentralize media.

These are some of the "citizen journalists" I followed who exposed me to a valuable understanding of COVID-19.


Most news in any domain is just facts wrapped up with impulsive opinions by journalists (not experts) racing to be the first to deliver. In general, you should not read news at all, unless any of the following is not true:

"It’s not important to your life. It’s not going to help you make better decisions. It’s really not going to help you understand the world. It’s not going to help you develop deep and meaningful connections with the people around you. The only thing it’s really doing is altering your mood and perhaps your behaviour."

Your attention is valuable, so why spend so much time on stuff that will be irrelevant in a few days? Stuff that won't help you add any value to the world.

This is from "Why you should Stop Reading News" by Farnamstreet. Read the full article here. (5 Mins).

“To be completely cured of newspapers, spend a year reading the previous week’s newspapers.” — Nassim Taleb


Respond to this

Have you ever made a friend online, perhaps due to shared interests, and went on to be good friends offline?

You may reply to this E-Mail, or via WhatsApp. I'll compile the responses and share the key insights in the next email.


Regards,

Abhishek

PS. Everywhere on the Internet as abhishek1point0. PPS. For any thoughts, questions, or suggestions, you may directly to this E-Mail.