I find myself holding a couple aspirations in increasing value as the years go on:
The first of these is the minimizing of “noise” — of distraction, of clutter, and of that which fruitlessly wastes attention.
The other is the maximizing of “signal” — those rich and value-filled experiences, learning opportunities, content, and relationships.
Pursuing these seem to be more and more challenging every year, but yet also more and more rewarding.
I recently had someone show me a recipe on their phone. The recipe site was so stuffed to overflowing with advertisements that only about 5% of the screen was actually left for the recipe.
95% was noise.
Which, makes sense in a way. “As many ads as possible” is the natural end-game of the attention extracting financial models that built today’s internet.
But all that noise is exhausting. So I’ve loved trying to search for the other extreme as a technology user: How can I minimize noise and maximize signal?
Is there a way to use the internet and/or go through life with a noise-to-signal ratio leaning towards maximum signal possible?
Two actions here seem potent. One is actively blocking the noise, in the form of ad blockers, tools like SponsorBlock (which can auto-skip sponsor segments on YouTube 🤯), or just simply unplugging from the noise.
And the other is being more purposeful about choosing the signal.
It seems to me like the “signal hierarchy” of high-quality to low-quality content goes something along the line of: Books > Podcasts > Purposeful Video > the increasingly TikTokified feeds that seem to fully embody Epictetus’ “mindless pap”.
Since we get to chose what we expose ourselves to day-to-day, it seems to me that choosing the richer, “high-signal” path is much more beneficial than the alternatives.