Once upon a time we actually had to walk, physically, to someone’s home, knock on their door and hope your best friend is there so you can ride a bicycle together, play a game, or simply have a chat. Tiring times. Takeaways were things from the future. You were bound to eat what your momma cooked for you. Newspapers and TV were the only ways to understand what is happening around the world. Labour was the default job. Working in a factory was your destiny.
I kind of miss these times.
Back then, we were free. Free from all the noise that is currently has descended over the whole planet. You didn’t have 10 notifications on your Facebook profile. 20 emails that you have to answer ASAP. A couple of DM’s on Twitter. 17 new stories on Instagram from your friends waiting to waste your time.
When you were laying on your bed just right before you go to sleep you were actually alone with your own thoughts. Thinking about your day and looking forward to the next one.
Things are way different nowadays and there is no going back. Information is the new substance that you need to survive. Like water and food, you can’t go without consuming information. I’m sure that there isn’t a day of your life where you’re completely off the grid. There will be always something to check. Always something to watch.
A lot of times these things will be crap (actually in the 90% of the cases) but there are also stuff you need to read/watch for your job in order to stay up to date: The latest news if you’re working for the government; The stock prices if you’re an investor; What kind of videos your competitors are uploading if you’re a Youtubber. The accessibility of information is truly amazing and it definitely helps us in our day to day activities. Yes, but at what price?
Even if you’re away for a few days, somewhere in the forest, you’re still connected to the world through your smartphone. You’re still an inch away from your friends, from buying something, from funny videos, from consuming in general. All of this leads to information overload.
People don’t quite realize this but the way we consume information, and the actual information we consume, is shaping our future and us as human beings.
Depending on how, where, how much, and what kind of data you consume you will either progress in this world or miserably fail in life.
How access to infinitive information is changing the world
At this very moment, thanks to the internet and the modern technologies (i.e., your phone and laptop) you can now do pretty much everything from anywhere in the world, as long as this place has a good wifi connection.
You can: work, play, watch a movie, order food, order a new blanket for your sofa, call your husband and tell him that he is useless asshole because he didn’t wash the dishes, again, share an idea to the world and get instant feedback, stream how you play a video game, chat with your coworkers, manage a whole team while wearing an underpants, instantly download the song that was just playing on the radio, and if you know what you’re doing, you will get it for free.
You can actually do the above-mentioned things all at once. That’s why a lot of times you’re feeling overwhelmed and you often say you don’t have enough time at your disposal.
You don’t have to be present or to physically meet people, in order to be friends with them or to influence them.
Today, the most desirable job isn’t becoming a CEO of a large organization or owning a couple of stores around town. It’s being an online influencer.
An influencer – if you don’t know what this means which I highly doubt – is someone who has a large following online. Or put in other words, a large audience.
Since a lot of people clicked the “follow” button under his/her account he now influences their decision. The information he/she shares is being distributed to their audience and this in a way is affecting their life.
But this is only part of the change.
There isn’t only one channel, only one media, or only one cool person online who shares interesting things. There are plenty and they all fight for your attention. It kind of feels like you’re bombarded, surrounded, by information and each piece is trying to steal part of your time. It kind of looks like this:
Even though all this information is overwhelming, sadly, we kind of need to consume that. That’s the confusing part. The paradox.
We need to consume information in order to stay up to date with the world; In order to do our jobs properly; In order to connect with other people. And the more information is put to the world the more this is changing our know world.
How access to infinitive information is changing our school system
100 years ago, the school was the only way to gain access to information. Structured, precise, focused data towards a specific subject. If you wanted to become an accountant, you had to go to school and later to college to refine and upgrade your knowledge on the subject.
Going to school was helping teenagers find themselves. Helping them to learn a craft that will later help them earn a living. That was the only known way. That was the only known way because there wasn’t any other access to information.
Schools or let say college’s, however, are no longer relevant.
You can easily spot that. If you don’t believe me, ask your professor about social media, building websites, creating apps, investing money, his experience with cryptocurrency, starting a business, basically, the things that everyone is talking about these days. The things that are moving the world.
The school system, as a lot of people are already talking about, are designed to get you a job. A job that you’ll probably hate. They want to turn you into a factory worker.1 Besides, 10 years from now, actually even today, the things we learn in school will no longer be applicable in the real world.
We learn about math, physics, we do difficult calculations but don’t learn things that will actually help us in live: How to manage people; How to engage in a conversation; How to invest your money; How to manage your finances. Skills that are highly needed in our lives.
This is the plan the older dudes, the ones who invented the current school system, have for us:
They want to train us their way so we can become a piece of the puzzle and do the job we’re told to do.
However, there is another path:
If you want to become an accountant these days you can simply go online and search for relevant courses on this subject. More than 90% of the information you’ll find will be free, tailored, and designed to help you get from A to Z without spending 4 years in college. You will probably need a couple of months to master the fundamentals and begin to understand the details. Surely it will be faster and more efficient than getting a loan to go to college.
Nowadays, we can create our own future.
Eventually, you will earn more money because you will be debt free and the knowledge and the skills you’ve learned are more up to date with what the world wants.
How access to infinitive information is changing our view of success
So far so good, it seems like everything is getting better and soon people will be filthy rich in just a couple of months by simply sharing videos online.
If you’re following what’s happening around the globe, you already know that there is a way to earn money by creating content online. That’s why people are going to seminars and buying self-help books like crazy. That’s why people want to become influencers instead of CEOs like we already mentioned.
The online space is flooded with articles, books, videos about starting your own venture and becoming rich and famous. These people make it sound like it’s super easy and everyone can do it.
The following statements are common nowadays:
“I will teach you to be rich. You just need to buy my course and my 10 books.”; “After you give me $300 you will make better photos and become an online superstar photographer.”; “What other people share won’t get you anywhere, you need to subscribe to my newsletter and watch my videos to become super strong.”3
Even though there are a lot of online courses that are really valuable and can actually help you, there are more of those that will only waste your time and money. Why? Because there is no filter what gets published online. Everyone can create a simple course and “educate” people how to become richer, smarter, stronger. But in reality, the only thing that matter is your willingness to change. Your desire to make a difference in your life.
Back to our original question: How information is changing our view of success.
You don’t need to actually have met someone famous, a movie star to know what he is wearing or doing. You can now follow them on social media and see what they are doing. Spy on their lives.
According to what people share online success is living in a beautiful house; driving a sports car; travelling around the world; working on your passion – whatever that means.
We see what famous people share on their Instagram profiles and we want the same lives. The more we consume of what others are doing the more we feel like our lives suck.
As mentioned, no one wants to work in the office, in the factory, or in the village farms.
We want a piece of the famous pie. More Instagram followers, more clothes, more attention towards ourselves. More of the things the other people have.
50 years ago the majority of the people living in the world were satisfied if they had a job and a place to sleep in their birth town. Nowadays you want to own the fucking key for the city hall.
How access to infinitive information changed our daily habits
Let me guess how you start your day:
You open your eyes and the first thing you do is to check your phone for the newest updates. Later, you go to the toiler and you spend 23 minutes inside: 3 minutes to actually wash your face and do your business and the other 20 for further reading and watching stuff online.
While we’re at work we do everything possible to take a “moment” to check what new is happening. One site leads to the next and until you know it you’ve spent 30 minutes online and the reason you started searching is no longer present inside your brain.
We now spend more time chatting than talking. The news on TV are no longer relevant. If the movie we watch is not satisfactory we’ll quickly replace it with the screen of our phones. Standing in line is no longer boring because we can now do something more interesting (scrolling). The pictures we take don’t mean a lot because we have thousands of them. We “fall in love” only when we like what we see. We basically living two lives: an online life and an offline life. The later is slowly becoming less interesting to the masses.4
How you should properly consume information
The first thing you need to consider is actually exposing yourself to less data.
In today’s world, the last thing you need is more of it. We already have far too much of information everywhere we go. Instead, we need the ability to make sense of information. To first ask ourselves what we want to achieve before we go online. To differentiate the important from the unimportant data we stumble upon. Above all to train ourselves to combine bits of information into something greater.
Consuming information is similar to consuming food or any other substance.
If you feed your body with a lot of sugar, fat, burgers, burritos, milkshakes, you will eventually have health problems. You will gain weight. Your brain will start working slowly. Your sight will suffer. Your confidence will bleed if you gain a lot of weight.
Similar is with information. If you watch funny cat videos all day; You have meaningless chats with people online; You watch porn more often than you go to the toilet; If you read articles about why celebrities do and don’t do stuff, you will live quite a dull life. You will be more willing to take a loan to purchase the new fragrance by Kim Kardashian because she will be your mentor in life. She will be your world sort to speak. You will have fewer ideas because cat videos will surely won’t make you a creative person. You won’t have any ambition
Your life will be centred around earning just enough to have time for fun activities, online activities.
Worst of all, you will lose one of the most important qualities in life: the ability to focus.
When browsing online with no clear idea of what you want to achieve you will jump from page to page, from profile to profile, from funny cat video to funny dog video, without any clear direction. This will lead to a day that is wasted. You will jump from browser to browser and your attention will suffer. It kind of looks like this:
When you try to focus on too many things you won’t focus on anything. You won’t achieve anything.
But there is another way.
You can thrive in this busy world by making information your bitch.
The proper way to consume and use information is to go online with a clear idea what you want to find. Structure the found information, digest it, remove the bits that don’t make sense for you and create something, learn something, earn something.
When browsing, try to make it looks like this:
Block the noise, be ruthless with mediocre content, use the found content to improve your craft. That’s the proper way to use the infinitive amount of information nowadays, don’t you think?
Yes, you can surely take a break and watch a few funny videos online. We’re not machines with no feelings. We need a break every once in a while.
If you know what you want from life, if you have a clear goal the information online will help you become great at your craft. It will help you laugh and cry when you need it. It will boost your career. But if you don’t, if you’re still lost, it will make things even worse. There are terabytes, petabytes of data online that will seek to enslave your attention and focus. But losing your money is not the worse that can happen if you’re not intentional about the way you use the internet. You will trade off something much more important, you will replace your actual physical identity with an online existence. Is that what you want?
- Cover photo by Jefferson Santos;
- Other illustrations by me.
- The tech companies that are moving the world recently declared that they no longer require a college degree in order to work for them. And since Google is telling youngsters that they don’t have to go to college to earn money, why should they?
- Well, there are people who do earn a lot of money by sharing videos every single day, but this doesn’t mean that it’s easy.
- Well, the statements we see online aren’t worded exactly like that you get the point. People “will teach you to be rich” after you pay them X amount of money. To be honest, I think that there is a cheaper way to become wealthy, you simply need to work better and smarter.
- Previously my online time was a huge chunk of my life. That’s why I decided to unfollow everyone on Facebook.