10 Ways To Be More Informed (Without Relying On Social Media)
Want to be better informed? Go off the grid sometimes.
Have you ever been put in a situation where your friends are discussing something and you’re totally lost? Despite reading news all the time, you don’t seem to be more informed. Why is that so?
Writer and futurist Richard Watson believes that the way to craft tools for the future is not on social media or studying gadgets.
In fact, when it comes to learning how to be more informed, Watson is incredibly old-school. He doesn’t believe in getting his information on the trending hashtag on Twitter (he doesn’t even have a Twitter account) or through his phone.
He reads the newspapers retrospectively. So what that means is that he is not trying to be up to date with current news. He is looking to see what news turns out to be relevant a few weeks or even a month later.
Watson shares with Quartz on how to create a smart information filter. He has figured out a way to filter out what is happening and what really matters to you. This eliminates all the “trending” news and only focuses on what’s important.
How to be more informed:
1. Practice “selective ignorance”
Pick quality over quantity, and try to create a wide context. Don’t read sensational news about some rural town in a country halfway across the world that has nothing to do with you. There is so much information available online, that you need to be able to consume only what you need to know.
2. Get out of your bubble
Watson advises that we should randomly pick up books and magazines, and strike up conversations with strangers. These random acts of interest in strangers and unusual communications break your information consumption routines and expose you to unique insights.
3. Find the “tall poppies”
Each person should have a network of curious and remarkable people who are hungry for interesting information and can guide our thinking. Such remarkable characters are called “tall poppies” in some companies, and Watson believes collecting these human blooms drives success – as odd as that may sound.
4. Get out there
“Travel. But again take the path untrodden,” Watson urges. “We are herd animals and the temptation is always to follow the herd. Try not to.”
5. Find sources you trust
Follow reliable, thoughtful, forward-looking publications and journalists online and let them do the heavy lifting, finding the most interesting info for you. If the publication or person is focused on thoughtful analysis and not panic news, you’ll hear worthwhile insights. Watson especially recommends perusing weekend editions of quality newspapers.
6. Chill out
“Relax,” writes Watson. “The important news will find you. It will.” Relevant information will find its way to you.
7. Dedicate time to reading
“Have a ‘think week’ every year,” Watson says. Microsoft founder Bill Gates takes time to reflect on the future of technology from deep in a forest, for example. He reads dozens of academic papers during a solitary and studious retreat in the woods, which helps to fuel innovative thinking all year long.
8. Embrace silence
“Learn how to look and listen deeply,” Watson recommends. “Stop talking. Start listening. Be curious all the time.” Find quiet settings that elicit a certain reverence, like deserts, mountains, and even churches, places where reflection and contemplation come easily.
9. Take a break from social media
Social media is where the worst of information is found. Most of it is useless and you might question the integrity of a lot of the news found there. Watson says, “Become cynical about trends. Watch for counter-trends. Visit the fringe.”
10. Go dark
Finally, switch communications off once a week and every evening. If you are brave, Watson says, dare to own no cellphone.
Watson’s approach is counterintuitive but consistent, and can be basically summed up in one principle: Be contrarian. Get smart by not worrying about where the crowd is going.
Will you apply these methods to be more informed? It could be interesting to see how things turn out.
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