Sunday, November 26, 2017

Life is Too Short to Eat Shit -- Media Edition

As I mentioned before, one of my personal maxims is that life is too short to eat shit. And it turns out that even the Pope agrees with me.

So in thinking about self-imposed limits on media, I've been subjecting everything to a smell test. If it smells like shit, I've been cutting it out. But this is tricky because I want to distinguish shit from things that aren't shit, but that have a smell I don't particularly like. Because if I only subject myself to things that smell lovely, well then I'm back in the bubble. And none of us can afford to be in the bubble right now.

Here are the metrics I've been using:
  • How relevant it is? Local traffic and weather is highly relevant to my life. The more relevant it is, the easier it is to validate. They say that the snow will start around 1pm, did it? In most cases, relevant = local. However, there are things that are potentially relevant on a larger scale. You know what's not relevant though? Almost everything coming out of Washington.
  • How much BS do I have to wade through to get to it? I follow one political blog that is an easy and relatively painless way to get highlights on what's happening in government at the national level. Painless here means: no ads, no video, no audio, no talking heads, NO COMMENTS. A daily short list of items that I can review in a couple of minutes to see who spouted what bullshit, who quit or got fired, and who made what egregious claim. The authors do some minimal analysis and link to places that do more, but I just ignore all that. I'm not sure that accurate analysis is possible and I've been working hard to withhold opinion based on inaccurate analysis.
  • Can I trust the facts? This is the big one. I'm constantly surprised that smart, educated democrats who were just 12 months ago complaining about the biased media being in the pocket of big corporations and that government intelligence is by definition a lie are now championing those same media outlets as beacons of democracy and believing everything the intelligence agencies say without question. Since when can the CIA be trusted? Since when is the press independent of corporate censorship? These are the same people they were a year ago.
  • What's the ROI? Am I getting something useful out of my investment of time and -- more importantly -- emotional energy? Apply this lens to social media especially. 
I've also been limiting other kinds of media. The radio's been set to the classical station recently. Minimal ads, no news, no chatter. I don't watch fictional series on TV any more. Mention any major series and I probably haven't seen any of it. Instead, I enjoy cooking shows, competitions (Great British Baking-type or Forged in Fire), nature stuff, etc. Note, I don't want to come off as a snob here. Some of these shows are enjoyable, but ultimately silly fluff. I just need to take in less right now. And I definitely need less torture porn cop TV, prowar propaganda, lame and formulaic sitcoms, and complex dramatics that I'm supposed to keep up with for season after season.

I suppose this makes me more boring in the break room at work (no I haven't seen Game of Thrones... like, ever) but so be it. Because that's the way it's gotta be for me right now.

Know why? Because I'm Leroy:

And frankly, I think we're all Leroy. And that kind lady tucking us in? Yeah, that's Western Society (or the Dominant Cultural Paradigm or the Mass Media or the Government Propaganda Machine -- they're all one thing at this point, so take your pick). And to be clear, it's not a conspiracy. It's a complex self-perpetuating consumer system -- and we're what's being consumed. Sometimes it seems like no one's even in charge of it, but that doesn't keep it from being way more terrible than most of us ever expected or in my case could even imagine.

Labels: ,


At December 8, 2017 at 7:55 PM , Blogger Aidan Wachter said...

This is solid. I do this with Marie Kondo's question, just like claning out the house: Doe this spark joy?


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home