002 - On Consuming Social Media - Moral Letters for Modern Times
Judging by your latest message to me, I am positively inclined about your prospects. You do not flit from topic to topic, or overly engage yourself with the latest story to trend. The frantic hunt for likes and retweets is the sign of a distracted mind. The truest measure of a well-focused person is the extent to which they can leave aside the passions of the day in favor of the priorities they previously set.
A steady diet of social media will leave you bloated but undernourished. You will grow fat with trivialities as quickly as you grow unhealthy in your thinking. In contrast, the proudest result of deep thought is a truth that you can express in few words. Even though it may be devoured in a single bite, the healthy nugget of truth will nourish the wise. It is possible, but unlikely, to find deep truth in Twitter; remember most miners will go bankrupt.
Your challenge in separating the wheat from the chaff grows daily. For the sheer volume of voices crying out to be heard threatens to deafen even the most astute listener. Your chances of finding useful content today are like plucking up a handful of sand and expecting to sift out a diamond ring. You might bulldoze the entire beach and end up with nothing but silica for your efforts, not to mention a large bill for diesel.
What is a hungry consumer of sensitive disposition to do? Rather than sample a thousand dishes in the hope of finding one that is not poisoned, better engage the services of a seasoned taster. Find a Sherpa to lead you up the mountain, and to shoulder the bigger part of the load while they’re at it. Unlike the mission facing the crew of the Starship Enterprise, this territory has been explored and mapped and its secrets laid bare.
Your challenge then is not to walk every inch of the land yourself, but to leverage the mapmakers’ toil. Concretely, I tell you this: select no more than five trackers whose navigation skills you trust. What lights guide their sojourns in the wilderness of the web? The best of them will give up their secrets willingly, for they want other pilgrims to join them on the path.
What compass guides my step, you ask? Honestly, ask first if you should step out your door at all. Consider whether you need depart your oasis, for the desert is deep and wide and unforgiving. The greater portion of what mankind has learned was uncovered long ago, and the sands of time have not buried it yet. Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus – these are the some of the best guides you will find in any age.
But if you are compelled to seek out fresher fare, try the Farnam Street blog, and the Almanack of Naval Rivikant.* These alone are deep enough wells from which to drink richly whenever thirst comes upon you. Enduring truths are available freely to all. I would anyway urge caution when dealing with truthtellers who seek compensation for their wisdom. By selling their wares, they must give thought to their attractive presentation. A lasting truth cannot be possessed, only uncovered, and once uncovered is made greater by sharing.
The wise profit from sharing their thoughts, not from selling them.
* I am not sponsored or paid for mentioning these sites.