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已有 925 次阅读 2018-4-16 21:47 |系统分类:生活其它|文章来源:转载



We spend hours consuming news because we want to be well informed. But is that time well spent? News is by definition something that doesn't last. And as news has become easier to distribute and cheaper to produce, the quality has decreased.


Rarely do we stop to ask ourselves questions about what we consume: Is this important? Is this going to stand the test of time — say, in a week or in a year? Is the person writing this someone who is well informed on the issue?

我们很少停下来问问自己我们消费了什么新闻:它很重要吗?它是否经受得住时间的考验 — 比如一周或一年?写这个新闻的人真的是内行吗?

“[W]e're surrounded by so much information that is of immediate interest to us that we feel overwhelmed by the never-ending pressure of trying to keep up with it all.”

— Nicolas Carr


- 尼古拉斯·卡尔 (注释:美国作家)

There are several problems with the way we consume news today:


First, the speed of news delivery has increased. We used to have to wait to get a newspaper or gossip with people in our town to get our news, but not anymore. Thanks to alerts, texts, and other interruptions, news find us almost the minute it's published.


Second, the costs to produce news have dropped significantly. Some people write 12 blog posts a day for major newspapers. It's nearly impossible to write something thoughtful on one topic, let alone 12. Over the course of a year, this works out to writing 2880 articles (assuming four weeks of vacation). The fluency of the person you're getting your news from in the subject they're covering is near zero. As a result, you're filling your head with surface opinions on isolated topics. Because the costs have dropped to near zero, there is a lot of competition.


Third, producers of news attempt to hijack our brains. News producers perpetuate a culture of “tune in, don't miss out, follow this or you'll be misinformed, oh wait, look at this!” As you consume more and more of that kind of news, you have less and less time for what matters.


Fourth, the incentives are misaligned. In part, because there is a lot of competition, most news outlets feel compelled to offer free news. After all, everyone else is doing it. However, when the news is free, you still need to pay people, so you move away from a subscription model that was selling static ads to a captive audience to a model that's selling the audience to advertisers. Page views become the name of the game, and the more, the better. For a lot of people who create news (I won't use the term “journalists” here because I hold them in high regard), the more page views they get, the more they are compensated. A lot of these ads aren't just impressions; they're also giving information about you to the advertisers, but that's another story.


I could go on, but I think you're starting to see the picture now.


“What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention, and a need to allocate that attention efficiently among the overabundance of information sources that might consume it.”

— Herbert Simon


- 赫伯特·西蒙

The point is, most of what you read online today is pointless. It's not important to your life. It's not going to help you make better decisions. It's 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 behavior.


The hotels, transportation, and ticketing systems in Disney World are all designed to keep you within the theme park rather than sightseeing elsewhere in Orlando. Similarly, once you're on Facebook, it does everything possible, short of taking over your computer, to prevent you from leaving. But while platforms like Facebook play a role in our excessive media consumption, we are not innocent. Far from it. We want to be well informed. (More accurately, we want to appear to be well informed.) And this is the very weakness that gets manipulated.

迪斯尼世界的酒店、交通和票务系统都旨在让你呆在主题公园内,而不是去奥兰多的其他地方观光。同样,一旦你在Facebook上,它会尽一切可能,短暂的接管你的电脑,以防止你离开。但是,尽管像Facebook这样的平台在我们过度消费新闻中扮演一个角色,我们自己并不是无辜的。远远不是。我们太想要充分掌握一切信息。 (更准确地说,我们希望看起来掌握一切信息。)这是我们弱点被操纵了。

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

— Nassim Taleb


- Nassim Taleb (注释:黑天鹅的作者)

I have a friend who reads The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, her local newspaper, and several other publications. She's addicted. She wants to know everything that's going on everywhere and to have an informed opinion. She's just like the rest of us — we all want to know what's going on and have a well-informed opinion. If we're not well informed, then what are we? I don't want to be ignorant, and that's just how I'm made to feel if I'm not keeping up.

我有一位朋友, 她读“纽约客”,“纽约时报”,“经济学人”,“华尔街日报”,当地报纸和其他一些刊物。她上了瘾。她想知道所有地方发生的一切,并且知道来龙去脉。她就像我们其他人一样。 如果我们不了解发生的情况,那我们是什么呢?我不想成为无知的人,如果我没有跟上这些新闻,我就会有这种感觉。

Despite that, I've stopped consuming news. At first, it was really difficult. When my friends would start talking about something topical and emotionally charged and ask me what I thought, I'd have to say I don't know. This was followed by a “What!?” and “You have to read this” as they took out their phones to text me a link to an article I would never read. One hilarious aspect of this situation is that they often expected me to stop the conversation with them and read the article so I could share in their outrage. No thanks.


Being well informed isn't regurgitating the opinion of some twenty-two-year-old with no life experience telling me what to think or how outraged to be. Your first thought on something is usually not yours but someone else's. When all you do is consume, you are not only letting someone else hijack and direct your attention; you are also letting them think for you.


Avoid the noise because it messes with the signal. Your attention is valuable, so why spend so much time on stuff that will be irrelevant in a few days? Read what stands the test of time. Read from publications that respect and value your time, the ones that add more value than they consume. Read what prompts you to think for yourself. Read fewer articles and more books. Read books that have stood the test of time, those that are still in print after 20 years or so.


We're afraid of silence, afraid to be alone with our thoughts. That's why we pull out our phones when we're waiting in line at a coffee shop or the grocery store. We're afraid to ask ourselves deep and meaningful questions. We're afraid to be bored. We're so afraid that to avoid it, we'll literally drive ourselves crazy consuming pointless information.


Let's close with this quote by Winifred Gallagher: “Few things are as important to your quality of life as your choices about how to spend the precious resource of your free time.”

让我们用Winifred Gallagher的这句话结束:“很少有事情,比你选择如何花费你的宝贵空闲时间, 对你的生命质量来的重要。




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