Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Surround Yourself with Useful and Good Stuff


There are two things wrong with this picture. This screen capture was taken from the ABC News Portal on January 10, 2012, the day of the Republican Primary in NH. The left side shows a fairly typical US news mix of national news with a couple of non-US items mixed in. The right shows the most viewed news items based on the number of times individual articles are read.

Are people reading useful information or are they reading worthless, and arguably not even entertaining news? Certainly they are doing the latter. One might question why most of those on the right are even there, unless you consider what business the ABC News portal is in. (It is in the advertising business and the content is just filler, so it doesn't matter if the content is useless as long as people read it).

If you surround yourself with useful information, you are more likely to learn something useful or to do something useful. The reverse causes the opposite. Although there isn't much negative on this particular day, I'd also like to point out that if you surround yourself with positive news you will feel positive and happy. If you surround yourself with negative news and thoughts, you will feel negative and unhappy. (Question: what happens when you watch an episode of Cops? What happens if you watch an episode of Cops every night?)

The other problem is that the Top Stories list is very limited, yet is typical of US news portals. Unless you also follow some non-US news portals you don't know that Iran is now enriching uranium underground and there has been a buildup of US military in the region, after a major reduction as troops in Iraq returned home. You wouldn't know about a couple more shots in the Syrian conflict were fired. There are at least a dozen more important stories that should be on the list on the left, and at least some of them on the right.

Try it for a week: Read only news items that at least have a chance of being important and useful. Skip over the worthless. At the end of a week consider whether you had a better week? I think you'll see the difference.

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