news

Here’s a few things I’m pretty convinced are true;

  1. There is a constant war being fought for the attention of our digital selves which is having dramatic adverse effects on people’s happiness, especially amongst digital natives who have never known a world without digital media;

  2. Activities practiced regularly which reward participants for consistent time investment over many years are essential to a meaningful life;

  3. The instant dopaminergic gratifications available through social media and the 24-hour news cycle are training us against investing time into activities which generate meaning over time;

  4. Therefore, it is necessary to reframe the benefits of investing time and energy into skills and activities which create meaning and value over time for those who don’t understand this intuitively.

A typical school library houses roughly 8000 books, which coincidentally is about the same amount of books a new kindle can store.

That’s strange, isn’t it? That there exists a waterproof device capable of cataloguing the majority of human history, and it weighs less than a pancake. Let that soak for a second.

Image result for kindle paperwhite

If you loaded up a kindle to the brim and dedicated your life to reading a book on it every day until you’d finished them all, it’d keep you occupied for 21 years.

When you then consider that these 8000 titles would equate to only 0.008% of the 100 million or so books penned throughout history, it’s easy for your mind to wander into the incomprehensibility of the literary abyss.

This number doesn’t even include the 500 million newspapers sold every year, or the 840 million WordPress blog posts.

We are so saturated with information that sheer scale of what we will never be able to ingest is overwhelming.

Acknowledging this fact, accepting it, and attempting to filter through the noise anyway is all we can do.

There is too much available to justify reading anything which fails to captivate your attention. Feel no shame in reading twenty books four pages at a time, whenever you feel like it.

Get to work on your Tsundoku. Filter well friends, and enjoy.

Yesterday, for the first time in recorded history, there was no rainfall over mainland Australia.

Meanwhile, New South Wales is literally on fire.

The overwhelming scientific consensus is that human action is directly responsible for the climate crisis which is now ravaging the lives and homes of Australian people.

If this doesn’t wake our country up to the potential dangers of climate inaction, what will?

Some have lost their homes, others their lives, but at least the suffering families have our Prime Minister’s thoughts and prayers to keep them safe.

Illustration by David RoweAustralian Financial Review

What good they’ll do is yet to be determined. Hopefully, they translate into action.

Laws exist to protect the privacy and reputation of individuals and companies from the negative effects of the media machine.

In practice, some of these laws include some disturbing grey area.

For example, in a public place it is completely legal to photograph or video any person, with or without their permission, as long as you aren’t using the images or video for commercial use.

(Note: Public spaces do not include privately owned land such as shopping centres.)

You are also allowed to photograph or film privately owned places, as long as you are on public land while you do so – even if you’re operating a drone.

As is often the case, what’s legal and what’s ethical varies greatly in many aspects of media operations.

Imagine you’re lying on the beach, minding your own business and soaking up some sun, when out of a bush pops Kyle Sandilands. Imagine that he then pulls out a camera with a zoom lens and starts taking close up shots of your crotch. There is absolutely nothing you could do about this unless he decided to publish any of the shots.

However, if you went home and posted an angry message like this to twitter, Kyle would have grounds to sue you for defamation.

Oops.

Because twitter is a public forum, those eight words are technically considered ‘published’. If Kyle can prove that my tweet has caused, or is currently causing him repetitional damage, I am liable for the cost of those damages.

That is, unless I can prove that my statement is true.

(Which in this case – who knows?)

The moral of the story is to be mindful of what you say online, especially about other people. If you’re going to say something that someone else isn’t going to like, make sure you verify your facts first.

As a general rule, I try to avoid consuming much news from traditional sources.

I prefer news which is actionable.

When I finish reading a story I like learning something which enables me to go, “Oh. In that case, I should ______.”

Good news fills in that blank with informed action which is productive, important and surprising.

But most news fills that gap with, I should be afraid.

While the targets they take aim at are different, news outlets on both sides of politics are constantly reverberating the same message;

People who are different from you are doing awful things, and you ought to be worried about it.

This message rings true whether you’re watching a bigot on Sky News dribble on about how maniacal the ‘climate cult’ is, or whether you’re watching a journalist on the ABC report a horrific case of domestic violence.

It used to be that this news happened twice each day; every morning when the paper was delivered and every evening when everyone got home from work.

Now we have a news cycle which doesn’t sleep, and our overexposure to it is cancerous.

Which is why I value journalists like Lisa Ling.

“It requires time and energy to get invested in other people’s stories, but I do in my heart of hearts believe that you emerge a better and smarter human as a result of taking that time.”
— Lisa Ling

Journalists who lean into the darkest complexities of society with empathy.

Instead of telling you who the good guy is, who the bad guy is, and why your should be upset, this type of journalism instead says;

Here are some people. This is what they’re going through. I’m going to try and help you understand.

Instead of preying on your emotional negativity bias by regurgitating oversimplified black-and-white narratives, these journalists find non-judgemental ways to understand people – usually in formats which take the necessary time to portray people as they really are; complex, illogical individuals.

It’s impossible to tell anyone’s full story in a news snippet.

We have nothing to gain through reinforcing polarising stereotypes, and everything to gain through compassionate conversation which fosters understanding.

If you haven’t encountered her work before, she’s well worth a google search.