research shows it takes 21 days to form a new habit. today is the 21st day of my attempt to break my personal media cycle from the negative, and only share either successful/victory/advancing news, or news with an actionable item, some thing that the reader can do that is meaningful. it should mean something when you spend time with information and stories, your knowing it should have an impact.
so i have been only posting and sharing things where there’s a “to-do” or a “oh hell yes!!” involved.
it’s hard! so much of the news we consume is either scandalous, tragic, violent, or distant. punditry is possible because there are folks who are willing to speak to any topic, based on a bare minimum of information. we are mostly trained to be pundits now, because our school systems teach us to regurgitate information, as opposed to asking hard questions and pursuing individual opinions, thinking critically. i can do the pundit thing, and enjoy it – i can be witty, i can make any current event fit into my world view.
but what purpose does it serve?
knowing a shallow amount of information about everything prevents me from investing time in developing deep knowledge about things that are relevant to me and my community – community food systems, nonviolent strategies, reconciliation, action.
i want to create a new habit – i want to use my writing and speaking skills to celebrate, to incite, and to advance the front lines of our work. i want to push the boundaries of my own knowledge, learn, feel my world view expand and evolve.
a few days ago i said, “if you don’t have anything informed to say about honduras (insert iran, iraq, etc.), then don’t say anything.” it’s literally a waste of your brain power and a waste of other people’s time.
stepping out the constant viral spread of bad news and controversy, even a baby step, makes it painfully clear how strong and shallow the news cycles are. watching everyone weigh in on iran, then watching that attention move on, reminded me that the cycle’s movement is like that of waves. ebbing and flowing, coming and going, taking things and landing them on a new shore without apparent purpose. you can ride wave after wave if you’re savvy, witty, sardonic in the right ways. or you can get pummeled by the waves if you are emotionally open to the actual horror and tragedy of things humans are doing to other humans every moment.
or…you can be a fresh drop, a deep dive, create new waves, be part of the tipping point towards solution-based thinking, community-based knowledge gathering and application.
i slip up, it’s addictive to know a little about a lot. but i’m committed. my whole interaction with data is much more passionate and specific and emotional and deep right now. i’m starting to like it.
a recent issue of WIRED magazine, edited by j.j. abrams, reframed science for me. we’re taught for at least 12 years that science is memorizing all that is known and true, what has been discovered, the laws of the universe. in this WIRED issue, science is presented as the pursuit of the unknown, honing the skill of curiousity, question, wonder, deep research – why, why, why?
science is our lives, philosophy is our lives, current events are our lives. but are we simply repeating old information down through the ages, or are we shifting what and how we communicate to create a new age?
i’m heading into 21 more days, towards a new age.