Informational Diet. How to Overcome Confusion?

information diet

If you feel overwhelmed and stressed, you might reexamine your informational diet.

But what is that, you might ask. Yes, it is a catchy phrase, it literally means to control and regulate the information you consume. When you gain a few kilos it is easier to tell by looking in the mirror, but when consuming the wrong information you don’t receive immediate feedback.

Huston, we have a problem!

Fake news are causing trouble. But we can strike back.

Much like TV brainwashes us, wrong information could set our mind wanting more of the wrong bite. But is hard to define, right and wrong. It is subjective, what might be true for me, might not be true for you.

The mass media is the problem and the alternative cost of your time.

“When you’re young, you look at television and think, There’s a
conspiracy. The networks have conspired to dumb us down. But
when you get a little older, you realize that’s not true. The networks
are in business to give people exactly what they want. That’s a far
more depressing thought. Conspiracy is optimistic! You can shoot
the bastards! We can have a revolution! But the networks are really
in business to give people what they want. It’s the truth.”
—Steve Jobs1

Everything is changing, but TV is still the same brainwashing machine. There aren’t many news today, only breaking news. That gets too much of your attention with very little ROI. In case you care to be productive replace it with carefully selected media, books, podcasts, and movies.

Even Tim Ferris is watching movies, you can find his recommendations in his newsletter, but certainly, he is not stuck on The Bold and Beautiful.

Definition

Informational Diet comes from a book I have read a while ago called “Informational Diet, A Case for Conscious Consumption” by Clay Johnson.  The term informational diet is referring to your frequency and all about the consumption of information. There are many streams of information out there, but the importance is stressed on quality and utility.

A couple of opinions that hopefully would bring more clarity:

  • “Delusion is a disease.”
  • Obesity is not only physiological but cognitive. Thus causing mental overload when consuming too much of the wrong information.

In this post, I am going to share my insights into this book and what the author has shared with us. I am very thankful for Clay Johnson’s work, it certainly brings a dose of awareness in this lousy world.

information diet
Photo by Mr Cup / Fabien Barral on Unsplash

Critical Thinking

Today many projects are being made from the EU and in general critical thinking becomes much more praised and trending skill. That is a trend I notice while working in an NGO writing such projects. Not knowing how to differentiate between things could have everlasting effects on your attitude and on the world. Because you won’t be able to see the world as it is. And it only takes a minute to choose to evaluate your information channels.

You can not escape a prison you do not realize you are in.

Lao Tzu

It is crazy how much our informational diet matters as much your food choice does. In the book, I also found something quite extreme, but interesting disorder.

Some people are facing body dysmorphia, which is the distortion of your self-image. If affected, an individual now no longer sees in the mirror the same things as others do. Similar to that phenomenon they are a few cognitive versions of it:

  • heuristics – “these are unconscious biases towards things we are familiar with, and choose to do the same thing we are have always done rather than do something new that may be more efficient.”
  • confirmation bias – that is kind of heuristic that makes us look for facts and information to support our beliefs, even in the absence of facts. Basically, we seek information that supports our position.
  • cognitive processing – ” it is able to cause us physiological overload just like food does, only not the same way.”

Our capacity to accumulate information is not infinite. However, true that our unconscious mind records our experiences and is much smarter than our conscious mind. As the author of the books states the high energy consumption – typically the brain represents 2% of the human body’s weight, but it consumes 20% of body’s energy resources – he suggests the importance of our informational load. The more you have the harder it would be for the brain to process it.

Information Channels

Books

That is the foundation. To tap in flow requires deep focus and reading is definitely a great exercise. Think about reading daily that is going to change your mind. Some people say you have learned about 4 people’s lives on average by reading just a single book. And if you read occasionally it might turn out you are smarter than you think.

Yes, you will start to read faster, that’s the point, right?

On the other side, it is interesting and satisfactory to get to know others. Sharing your perspective is a great place to start, activating and elaborating on things you have or haven’t thought but still were interesting to dive into the topic.

Kindle

Kindle is an incredible piece of technology shaped my world from the first book I read on it. I was really skeptical initially to read books online or on a tablet. But many friends and recommendation stock up to convince me to at least try Kindle. And considered it with Ivan & Ivo once we started speaking about it. I can always return or resell it if I don’t like it. So I can proudly confess it is one of my best investments.

There are instantly many books on your fingertips and you don’t have to carry countless books with yourself all the time. I have struggled with that especially while traveling. And finally I had to admit to myself – as much as I love reading on paper – Kindle is better. Its high utility makes it a better choice for me. And also there are many features that are within it.

  • Word Wise – it gives you a short explanation of a complicated word or a synonym.
  • X-Ray – I don’t find this feature active for every book, but it does allow to skim through those you can see within minutes what you need or want to read from them.
  • Vocabulary builder – this feature is genius. I am learning and adding new words to my vocabulary way faster and it is always within reach.
  • Notes – I don’t want to remind you how important are notes in general. Here you can highlight as well as note and all those selections of yours, you can send to your e-mail directly (the one connected with your Amazon account).

Podcasts

Podcasts are a new developing medium of streaming more relevant information for its audience and target groups. Life gets to make much more sense now. People like Joe Rogan and Tim Ferris are interviewing important people who have challenged the status quo and share their insights with us. It is the possibility and freedom to create your own and to speak from your Point-of-View.

There are many different formats that you can choose from to create your podcast. Akimbo is Seth Godin’s podcast that I adore and follow since day one. The podcast touches on a lot of topics from education, marketing, life, philosophy.  He has seasons and answers questions from the crowd. That is also an example of short and dense podcast episodes.

Speaking about podcasts we are developing one at the moment. I can’t tell you much except to fasten your seat belts, it is going to be something extraordinary. We want to share with you our flow stories and process for self-discovery thus creating yourself. That is the exit point of your startup (YOU, yourself).

Hopefully, you would hop on board to hear more.

Medium

I am a huge fan of Medium. If you read this blog post you are probably a fan too. But in short, Medium is a new way of expression. People gather to read, write and share in one place that helps everybody do more of that.

Think of Medium as the blog of all blogs.

I learn about the world reading other bloggers publications and it is a place where I share my thoughts as well. It is a win-win.

information diet
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Tips & Tricks

I personally consider my choices and alternatives thoroughly before I actually decide. I definitely think it works better, at least for me to postpone an important decision before  I make the final call. It might be a few hours, days or weeks, depends how much time you have. I would touch on decision-making in another post. Here are just a few personalizations of my computer interface, plus a few tips I would like to share with you.

How do learning new things make you feel?

It is sometimes hard to believe learning could be fun. But just play a game if you will and believe it for a second. What if you get to know life secrets while learning new things. There is a lesson in every game in every moment of life and especially every individual. Just open your eyes, like you do when the alarm rings. But relax, learning is a calm steady process leading to mastery and gratitude if you stick long enough. As my grandmother always says “nothing good happens overnight”.

Tips

Social Media in the world of the internet our friends are always with us, in our right pocket, on your phone. That leaves us with very distracted mind after we answer every beep for the day, phone calls and texts. Some people get more the others, but it doesn’t really matter how much, it matters if you do.

Things you can do:

  1. Turn off all app notifications that you are currently using. I even turned off my Messanger notifications. The point is to navigate throughout your day unbothered and asked for attention. Whenever you decide to spend some time chatting it is fine, just don’t mix it every 10 min into your day. You could save a few times of the day to check what’s happening online, like on your lunch break.
  2. Prioritize Facebook pages. There is a little dropdown menu on every Facebook page (“Followed”) that lists a few options: “See before everybody else”, “Default”, “Unfollow”. That is a life changer for me. I could have as many friends as want in my profile without blocking my prioritized content.
  3. Taskbar and number count. Recently I have changed a few settings on my Windows laptop. I hid the taskbar, so it disappears whenever I remove my mouse cursor elsewhere. That helps me focus on what I am browsing about or any in-app activity I am conducting at the moment. However, I have pinned a lot of applications on my taskbar for more utility – the ones I am using the most. In addition, I don’t see the numbers of new e-mails, Slack messages, Trello notifications or anything else. As I noticed that both in Deep Work by Cal Newport and in Informational Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption by Clay Johnson they suggest to remove any numbers showing unread messages, notifications, or any other metric count of your applications. That might be Gmail, Messanger, WhatsApp and alike. They are saying that this way you would act more consciously than being reactive to what is coming at you.
  4. Internet sabbaticals are also a way to regulate your information consumption. Switching off, for a day or two, from the internet could be extremely beneficial for you. It would increase your clarity and decrease stress. Tim Ferris is doing something similar, but also cutting screen time.
information diet
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

How Do You Decide What to Believe?

Approach with a little skepticism and look for information elsewhere. Research and look for another opinion, not only affirmation. Find some in the opposing side of the same spectrum. The truth is often in between. And most importantly ask good questions.

“Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with “body of facts” that exists in the mind of the general public.”

Everybody perceives reality in there on way. We communicate via language, whether that is verbal or bodily is just a matter of situations that enables or disenables them. And in terms of chasing the truth, we need to make a reality check. Now you are familiar with what information diet is.

Consume deliberatly. Take in information over affirmation.

Clay Johnson

A term the author has coined is infovegan. That encapsulates the mastery of data literacy, which consists of the following skills development:

  • Search
  • Filter & Process
  • Produce
  • Synthesize

These data literacy is also related to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) educational policies. And that certainly would bring more peace in your life, knowing such skill and implementing them while collecting information.

The Message

Learning about the world is interesting, but sometimes making your own way isn’t that simple as we think. It is certainly a process and often times a grind. But it is the traps along our way that make it more difficult to follow our hearts. Information is power and it plays a crucial role in our lives. Thus making your choices of who you listen and what you read in turn affects you reciprocally.

Reading this long post is certainly appreciated. And you should too compliment yourself, not many people are reading so much.

On this last note, I would like to leave you, and congratulations to everybody who read the whole post.

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