Look at what you are watching ! : Making a bit of sense in a world of information overload

Disclaimer : This entire piece is just another opinion. I am not an expert in anything, I have written this article based on what I extracted after immersing myself in a handful of books, podcasts and lectures (polished way of saying achha gyan chod raha hu) . I have tried to encapsulate a few valuable ideas here. I hope you find them in this almost-rant, and put them to use.

Long read ahead.

Ideas and people who execute the conclusion of those ideas have been the driving force of the world that we live in. The pair has brought us where we are.

Today, social media has ensured that ideas, people’s opinions, people’s likes, people’s dislikes (and memes) are broadcasted everywhere. Information is the new currency, along with attention.

While you are scrolling down Instagram, you don’t stop for every post, do you? No. You only stop when something catches your eye.

Every post, every tweet every article, every 6-pack ab selfie, and every twerk tiktok is fighting millions of its own kind to snatch your attention. This fight for attention ensures that only the most inflammatory of posts/memes/selfies reach you. And there are a lot of them, more than you should be looking at.

Now, these posts have no obligation to be of any good use to you, except either make you laugh, cringe, or feel insecure. Despite being worthless, they end up shaping your opinion about things or events.

Let me give you a small, stupid example:

The meme page that I followed, made a few memes about the popular game, Fortnite , for it being made for kids. Despite never having played Fortnite, I immediately hated it for it being lame. All my friends who played it, you bet I called them out on it . Now whoever made the memes obviously hates Fortnite. I did not, but since I followed his/her meme page, I not only subscribed to his memes, but in a subtle way, also his opinions. And i know that because finally the one time i played Fortnite, I enjoyed it.

another one :

When the YouTube channel of Tseries, the Indian music company, was reaching the channel of Felix Kjellberg ‘PewDiePie’ in terms of number of subscribers, it became a hot topic everywhere. Even people who hadn’t heard about either of them, suddenly found themselves picking sides, and actively hating the opposite side. Many Indians, who were otherwise unaware of either, suddenly arose in support of TSeries, over the sentiment of nationalism.

And about insecurities,

If you are bombarded by pictures of 6 pack abs, you will feel compelled to get those abs for yourself. That will take you to the gym. And then you might purchase those supplements. And once you get those 6 pack abs, your own selfies might make one of your friends feel shitty and motivated enough to do the same.

You have seen Shroud make those awesome clutches, or seen FaZe Pamaj make those Ballista mid-air 360’s (good ol Black Ops 2 days) . It’s god damn awesome. But how does that make you feel ? It might motivate you to play better, grind more. “Look at these players man, I can barely aim straight!”, you might think. And then off you go, trying to do the same.

Next, you could be made insecure about your phone, your height (<6'), your house, your skin color, your shoes… as much as you would allow.

And these insecurities become yours to keep and use. In the same flawed way that you feel judged by others, you judge others . The cycle goes on.

This is not completely bad though. At the end of the day, it forces you to get better . What sucks is that all that improvement is predicated on insecurity. You don’t improve because you see value in improving. You improve ONLY because you see the best from other people which highlights all your deficiencies.

You might see the distinction after you improve, probably not though.

Now about ideas and opinions.

When we look at something on the internet, it is shaping our beliefs and opinions, without conscious choice. As our Internet usage, and reliance on it increases day by day, we are bound to by no fault of ours, drown in the pool of information.

This entire concept, is predatory too. Cases of anxiety, depression, suicide are on a meteoric rise. And insecurity, as mentioned above.

But this doesn’t really stop at making you insecure. No. We’re not done with you yet.

The next big thing lies with the sources of the nonsense.

There are hundreds of thousands of bullshit news sites, news accounts, meme pages (which do drive public opinions ), and popular people. A blue-tick (or just a large no. of followers ) suddenly gives SOME people’s opinions undeserved weightage.

And then with this all this you have : ideologies . Nowadays, people choose an ideology (left, right, liberal, conservative…) and make it their life’s purpose to put down all ideas of other ideologies. People are afraid to be wrong, as if it permanently destroys their identity. They will fight anything that challenges their beliefs for good.

Now there is nothing wrong with opinions (although ideologies are still bullshit). Opinions are not all bad (this article, for example).

But you must make efforts to distinguish facts from opinions.

For example :

There is a large group of people in America that believes that wearing masks (during COVID 19) is a infringement of their rights. They believe that making them wear masks is a part of a big government conspiracy and an act of the Devil, and that vaccines have small chips that can be used to track/control them. Further, they say, that once 5G networks are established, the government will use it to alter their minds. And those that stormed the Capitol in January this year, most of them were hardcore believers of whatever nonsense was being cooked in QAnon, or whatever deadbeat Facebook/reddit group they are in.

‘SJW’s (Social justice warriors) i.e. people who will fanatically fight for whatever ‘social’ cause they feel is ‘unjustified’ on the Internet, without a word of fact-checking, while sitting in their mom’s basement in reality, yeah, SJWs are in majority today. The White Knights, fighting for some obscure ideas and notions over the internet, without a drop of self awareness or logic. This is also the cause of the stupid, yet elaborate and dangerous ‘Antifa’ movement.

You might also remember Gurmit Ram-Rahim Singh, the guru (convicted on multiple counts of rape, enforcing castration of his followers etc.) . His brainwashed followers wreaked havoc in Panchkula, Haryana, on the occasion of his deserved arrest. Why?

How could all these people be so dumb ?

Why do they fall prey so easily to manipulation and blind faith ?

And as I said earlier, even if they don’t incite people to violence, they can still subtly pivot opinions over time.

Now, most of us, never put our internet-formed opinions to use. And if we do, we are made aware that those opinions are not necessarily true or useful. However this feedback mechanism has stopped for many people.

Something is not wrong just because it is unpopular, or right because it is popular .Which is why before you buy into an idea, or an opinion, even if it is spoken by someone you like or look up to, hell, even those cliched life quotes, or worst of all, an ideology, you better question and examine it. This will also probably make you more selective about the things you even choose to question in the first place.

Your information diet will be much healthier.

Apply that to this article for a start.

If you found something here that you don’t agree with, is that because it just feels wrong, or is it actually wrong ?

If you found something here that you like or agree with, does that mean it is actually true, or does it just ‘feel’ true ?

TAKEAWAYS :

  • Be critical, of everything and everyone that you allow to influence you.
  • Never place a job, or a person, on a pedestal. It demeans your intellect.
  • The Internet provides information. Not all of it has an obligation to be of use to you.
  • Don’t miss leg day.

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SOURCES :

  • A thorough well-researched book. A class apart from any self-help cookies out there.

2. BEYOND ORDER : 12 MORE RULES FOR LIFE ,by Jordan B. Peterson

2. EVERYTHING IS F##CKED : A BOOK ABOUT HOPE by Mark Manson

3. EGO IS THE ENEMY by Ryan Holiday

4. Cleared Hot Podcast by Andy Stumpf (retired Navy SEAL officer, pilot, sommelier)