“One must never miss an opportunity of quoting things by others which are always more interesting than those one thinks up oneself.”
– Marcel Proust
I have to admit that I have not yet finished reading “How Proust Can Change Your Life” by Alain de Botton (things like work, cooking for my family and the four other books that I am reading simultaneously just keep getting in the way), but I wanted to share my favorite quote from what I have read so far. You just can’t go wrong with a quote about the wonders of quoting others.
On a more serious note – what has really been on my mind lately is technology and psychological manipulation. It’s no secret that we are being manipulated pretty much all the time. I work in marketing, need I say more? But what we don’t always see and understand is the extent to which the technology that we think is supposed to be making our lives easier is actually just getting us to do what it wants us to (and that happens to coincide with whatever makes that company money). For this week’s Café Gourmand I am limiting myself to two fairly long pieces that address this issue in the hopes that you will take the time to read both of them.
Side note on the length of these pieces: One of the things that I love about Medium is that they give you an estimate of the amount of time it will take to read an article. My choices this week both happen to come in at 16 minutes. In a world where I make recommendations to clients to keep videos to around 30 seconds, it almost feels impossible to ask someone to read something for 16 minutes. But when I take ten steps back from this crazy online culture of short attention spans and baby goat videos, I realize that 16 minutes is nothing. As a matter of fact, some of Proust’s single sentences probably take longer than that to read.
How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds – According to Tristan Harris, the average person checks their phone 150 times a day! We are constantly bombarded by distractions, beeps, notifications, all specifically designed to grab our attention, making it harder and harder to focus on one thing for more than a couple of minutes (like any long form writing) and making it harder and harder to step away from our social media accounts. And that is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how that cute little phone in your pocket takes control of your life. If Tristan’s post inspires you to make some changes to the way you use technology (and minimize how it uses you), his Time Well Spent project lists some practical steps that you can take right now.
Medium, and The Reason You Can’t Stand the News Anymore – What everything eventually all comes down to is how online companies make money. Often, it is through more clicks, more views, more shares, etc. This becomes problematic when it is also how our news sources make their money as well. This post does a great job of explaining exactly how that system works (and really doesn’t work). It also asks the question, how do we get out of this cycle and create value around quality instead of rewarding whoever shouts the loudest and the most and gets the most people to come running? There is something fundamentally wrong with that picture but it doesn’t seem like anyone has the answers for how to change it just yet.
That’s it for this week. Time to log off and go read a book!