The original transcript for below can be found by clicking here.
Yesterday somebody on Reddit made a plea for help because of their addiction to information and constant need to keep searching for something more.
Here was the best response, and well worth repeating.
Everyone here has said meditation so far, which is great, but I’m going to offer up some different approaches.
I used to have a similar problem, information addiction is a real thing. I believe that the brain gets used to having such a high load of information going in, that it uses this information as a distraction, usually from either boredom or something bad that’s going in on your own life. Also there’s something to be said for the tiny little endorphin hits you get for every e-mail you receive or every page you open. That’s the most likely cause of information addiction – addiction to this tiny chemical.
The way I got around it was several things. I didn’t try meditation because normally my mind is pretty quiet, however I did notice that my sleep was messed up from being on my laptop so much, so the first thing I did was I got a pair of these glasses that block out the blue light from your computer screen which disrupts melatonin secretion which in turn disrupts your sleep pattern. Since wearing them for an hour or two before bed, I’m able to get to sleep a lot easier. Even when I’m not on my computer, I still wear them and I feel the onset of sleepiness hit me really hard around 10pm, whereas before I could only feel sleepy around 2am, which is awful. since I’ve been doing this, I’ve gone to bed around 11ish and been up at 7 bright and early the next day, even without an alarm. If you couple this with doing some book reading and shutting off that computer, you’ll sleep like a baby. Although this isn’t related to information addiction per se, it’s still the best $8 you can spend if you have to use a computer late into the night and still want to be able to sleep well afterwards.
Will power – mindfulness
Secondly, I just used my will power to not go on my laptop as much. Any time I thought “yeah I’ll just go on Google news and see what’s happening with that cruise ship that sank in Korea” I’ll go for a walk outside, or read a book, or listen to music, or go do that one chore I’ve been putting off for forever. Although in the beginning these things may seem boring, the more you force yourself out of the information overload, the more you’ll begin to pay attention to the subtitles around you, which I suppose is a form of meditation – mindfullness – except I’m not advocating sitting somewhere and controlling your breathing, I think active meditation while doing things is incredibly useful. Sometimes, there just isn’t time to sit somewhere and meditate. I know the maxim “if you don’t have an hour to meditate, you need two,” but tell that to the parent of 2 kids who has a full time job too. In non-meditation terms though, this is what i mean: I’ll do things like really pay attention to how I prepare each stage of my breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I’ll put in an extra minute of effort to present my food nicely so it looks nicer to eat, but during those extra few minutes, my mind is totally concentrated on this one thing. If I find my mind wandering, I’ll bring it back to what I’m doing. I’ll give the same sort of attention to music – picking out individual parts of the song and discerning between instruments. By the end of the song you’ll have kind of zoned out (which let’s be honest, while not an aim of meditation, is nice to do sometimes) and be totally quiet.
No more internet news
Thirdly, I no longer go to the internet for my news. 99% of the things that happen on earth have no effect on my life whatsoever, and realizing this is not “being ignorant to the world around you” – you’re avoiding falling victim to the media that says you have to be afraid of everything all the time, and if you’re not you’re falling behind the times and sticking your head in the stand.
Hear me now: that is bullshit. Having a healthy mind allows you to function and live your life as you want it, and gives you a sense of knowing when something is actually dangerous, as opposed to everything being dangerous.
If I need to know something, I’ll know about it.
So, what I do is I turn on the radio, usually to NPR, in the mornings for about 15 minutes, get a rough overview of what’s going on today just so I know what other people are talking about, then I’ll sit there listening to music and I’ll think about what I heard and critically analyze what’s going on, form some opinions, and then go about my day. If I need some in depth comentary, I’ll pick up a newspaper, because that still forces me to sit there and read words on a page, and not flip between things, which I used to do on the internet – it’s incredible that I can click between 15 news sources and read them interchangeably second by second, but it’s by no means healthy training the brain to do that I don’t think. Being able to sit there and read one thing with your full attention, I believe is the best way forward.
I think this a lot healthier than being spoonfed the fear and anxiety news stations give you so that you’ll keep listening to their station, or going on their website.
Knowledge as power
The idea that “Knowledge is power,” is a half-truth, the real truth here is relevant knowledge is power. You won’t find the Donald Trumps, or the Tim Cooks, or the Jeff Bezos of the world sitting there soaking up all the information they can in the world. They don’t give a shit about what’s going on in the Sudan unless it effects their company or their lives. If they do know about it, they don’t agonize about it. They don’t have time to have a scattered brain – they pin point exactly what they need to know, acquire it, use it, then move on. The power is being able to let go of the need to know about everything, because you’ll find after a while that you actually know very little that can directly benefit your life, and the lives of those around you..