What synchronicity! Just the other day I wrote a note in my phone for an article idea which said, ‘Planning how you consume online information’.
So thanks for kicking things off. You’ve written a valuable and comprehensive guide, but it’s missing the angle that I was going to approach mine with. I’ll elaborate below, and feel free to use the idea in this or future parts, as I think it’s of central importance.
I was thinking more along the lines of figuring out what you want to achieve online, then curating your consumption to align with that ambition.
Although I like the categorization of consumption in the Media Pyramid, there’s a certain interpenetration that exists in and through all categories. I feel like you already know this as you’ve built a consultancy around the principle that ‘ideas are new combinations’ —with which I heartily agree. Of relevance to this is the realization that we’re no longer just consuming information, we are the information.
Therefore, in order to maintain a healthy media diet, one must first ask themselves why they’re online in the first place. I feel it’s about reverse-engineering rather than giving people a guide to follow. Although the successful realization of both require intrinsic motivation, one comes before the other.
I think that your ability to stick to any recommended media diet is dependent on your personal motivations. The food pyramid has been around for decades and yet we still struggle to maintain a healthy diet. My diet has only recently improved because I actively started to develop recipes and learn what foods went well together etc., and now I’m writing a book about it called Recipes for people who can’t cook good.
I only mention that to highlight what I feel is the most important part of your whole project:
Participation, or, more accurately, contribution.
You’ve got a category for this and talk a lot more about it in Pt. 3, but I think it deserves more attention from a different perspective, which could help in maintaining the diet itself.
I wrote an article that explored what’s called the 1% rule, defined in Internet culture as a rule of thumb pertaining to participation in an internet community, stating that only 1% of the users of a website actively create new content, while the other 99% of the participants only lurk.
I think it’s a telling statistic and one that could also hold the answer to a healthy online existence. It’s difficult to regulate your online activity because of the limitless possibilities we’re presented with, which leaves us paralyzed and without direction.
I’ve discovered that once that direction is established the priorities in the pyramid self-organise, and, to roughly the units of time you’ve stated. My online behaviour was incredibly consumptive up until last year and then I posted a question in a Facebook group asking for help. The group was for people who were trying to build website development businesses and so my question was related to that, but it was also based in my ambition to ‘get better’ with what I was doing.
So therefore, I believe that it’s not good enough to just participate online, there must be motivation and purpose behind your engagement. And this is where a lot of self-help fails, or succeeds, depending if you’re buying or selling. It always comes back to you and whether you take responsibility for yourself. Which also defines your purpose for being online.
Personally, I no longer use social media and I no longer watch or consume the news. For me, it’s not about being uninformed, it’s about exhuming rather than consuming. Digging for gold rather than clicking on bait.
Also, the ‘news’ traditionally focuses on current or recent events and therefore it will always be ‘newsing’. I’m starting to focus on the longer term which forces me to have a direction because I’m looking to a point in the distance rather than 3ft in front of my face.
The central theme here is to establish a direction. I discovered mine with the following formula: curiosity followed + meditation = illuminated path.
The more illumination you can provide for yourself, the more sure-footed you become and the less likely you are to be distracted.