For many years now, there has been a growing and welcome awareness of the importance of food and the role it plays in our long term health, beyond just satisfying hunger and taste buds. Thanks to the commitment and hard work of several groups of people, we’re now paying attention to who’s growing our food, the ingredients in it and the culture and politics surrounding food.
It should go without saying that what we put into our minds is equally, if not more, important. And yet, the state of online content today has interesting parallels with the junk food scene perhaps a decade ago. We are just starting to see the results of poor nutrition – but the junk content wave has just begun. The impact, if any, to our thought process, attention and reasoning abilities will only be evident years later. So what could a concerned reader do? What would the advice look like if we borrowed ideas from the food world to create more balanced reading habits? Here are some ideas for building balance and nutrition back into your online reading. Are you up for the challenge? Go all in or take it step by step – either way, I guarantee you will have a stronger, more informed and calmer mind.
- Graze less, read more – Enjoy what you read. Instead of the constant grazing on headlines, status updates and stripped down content, find one really interesting article and read it all the way through. Till the very end. Easier said than done, but you know you’ve done it before – you can do it again. And when you get to the end, you will feel so good.
- Limit highly processed content – Information that’s been stripped down, robbed of all nuance and thought is attractive and quick to read, but does little to build up your brain and reasoning abilities over time. If you cannot eliminate it completely, be conscious about limiting the amount of such material you read every day.
- Add balance – Put on your stern voice and tell yourself, “Funny videos have their place but they are a special treat, not for every online session”. Wean yourself off the junk and slowly add in some international news, some science reporting, some political analysis and perhaps even some abstract design inspiration.
- Pop the bubble – You have an online tribe, an online bubble and it’s limiting your horizons. These are your regular news sources, the people you follow on various social media and your personalized recommendations. Pop that bubble – go find something different, something new. Maybe some alternative publications, some topics you’re not interested in or people whose opinions you don’t usually consider. Kinda like developing a taste for brussel sprouts, broccoli or whatever vegetable it is that you disliked before trying it for the 15th time.
- Read the label – Know your information. Where is it coming from, who wrote it, what are biases of the author, the publication. You can choose to agree, share or comment – but its important you understand the forces that shaped your media diet.
Building healthy reading habits is not that hard. Anyone can do it if you follow these simple guidelines. Give it a try and tell us how you’re feeling after practicing these steps.