Curating your interests; moderation and boundaries.

I enjoy being in the know; I don’t always enjoy the stress that comes with it. Current events aren’t for sissies. Hang about on the news pages for too long and your stress levels inevitably climb. It doesn’t matter what your interests are or what your political persuasion is. Soon enough, the news of the day will spike your blood pressure.

There’s a fine line between being informed and being overwhelmed. Thanks to the internet and the ability to know all and see all instantly, it’s getting crossed by various and sundry more often than not. You only have to observe the rage on social medial to realize that truth. We are overwhelmed and it’s making us testy.

And yet, I want to know. I’m curious. I want to learn things, be informed. But I forgot there’s a whole world of knowledge out there that isn’t based on current events. There are topics of interest that have nothing to do with attempts to self-heal.

Being overwhelmed by current events is partly my fault, a situation of my own making. I think that it’s important to pay attention but I just didn’t think to limit my intake. It is also partly the fault of social media algorithms. Yes, I look up the news of the day but the algorithms that narrow my interests and manipulate my feeds accordingly. The result is that while I’m exposed to bits of things environmental, political, and economic, my other interests are shunted to the side. The news that is shared is also the kind that focuses on the dark and the bleak, click-bait to keep advertisers happy. But the stream of ugly never abates and at times, I despair of my species. Thus, my mood takes a hit.

I’ve made a shift or two of late. The first thing I did was to reconfigure the algorithms on my social media pages. It’s not hard. Just look at different things deliberately. Ignore what the platforms suggest. The math programs adjust. Within a few days, my feeds were full of funny memes, inspirational quotes, articles about the efficacy of turmeric, and short stories about brides who turn into raving beasts in the run-ups to their weddings. It’s a nice change, especially following the tension-filled months leading up to the recent domestic general election.

The second thing I’ve done is external to the digital world. I’ve expanded my non-fiction reading selections beyond the areas of psychological self-help and personal growth. I’ve stopped perusing the “good for you” magazines. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading these things. I enjoy The Economist and The Walrus. I love the ideas; I love being informed and I love working on becoming a better person. But “better” could probably include “well-rounded”.

I’ve recently stumbled upon summary books, for want of a better word. Books like “What if?” by Randall Munroe and “A Brief History of Nearly Everything” by Bill Bryson. Big books full of little bits of information about a wide range of topics. Good on two fronts; I learn something new immediately and I’m inspired into making further inquiries down the road.

Physics is especially awesome. I wished I’d studied it more at school but the math seemed intimidating and biology offered me the opportunity to cut things up. Oddly, dissection is something I enjoy. It’s fascinating, observing first-hand the complicated elegance contained in the systems that keep things alive.

The great thing about learning about neutron stars or how the field of chemistry originated or what would happen if everyone in the world ended up on Rhode Island is that it’s stress-free knowledge. It doesn’t cause me angst. A steady current events diet of political intrigue, economic struggles, and climate problems does. A reading list entirely comprised of ways to improve does as well. An overdose in any of these areas is not conducive to a good mood; overconsumption causes me to struggle with my equanimity.

Apparently, my mother was right. Moderation is the key.

Being in the know is important. Being an informed consumer is important. So, I’m not going to withdraw entirely from the news of the world. Reconfiguring the percentages applied to the different areas I spend time on, however, is perfectly acceptable.

I think today I will learn about ants. I find them quite fascinating.

How do you curate your interests?

7 thoughts on “Curating your interests; moderation and boundaries.

  1. Yet another post I can totally relate to. How do you do that?

    The news… like you, I love to be in the know. In 2017-2018, I would start every single work day (M-F) by browsing various news sites. Then, during the day, I might do it again to make sure I didn’t miss anything. For a brief moment I had Twitter that was somewhat political, so I also checked the news in the evenings when I wanted to engage in debates. I got rid of Twitter rather quickly, because the only thing I was getting out of it was rage. But me checking the news on the daily, gave me plenty of material to use for my Monday NROP blog pieces. This year, I barely check the websites anymore. And I don’t own a TV. I’ve restricted being in the know for my own sanity. I could not handle any more anger. Why anger? Because I have a hard time when people refuse to see ANY reason. You can have your opinion and I can have mine. Chances are that I will see SOMETHING in yours that I will understand/ respect/ or maybe even agree with. Not everyone seems to be that way, though. I can’t change that…

    I like that you are reading non-fiction books. Psychology are probably my favorites. But, I do prefer fiction at this point in time. I think I always have. Yes, I would love to study a new language, or learn more about science, but I feel like my brain is already fried enough. I need my interests to relax me, not use up more of my bandwidth.

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  2. I have no idea :-). I used to be attached to the idea that I was perhaps psychic but my lack of lottery success cured me of that particular delusion. It’s interesting though, how often people have similar ideas. I notice it myself on WP – a post someone writes that is exactly what I’m writing about.

    Interestingly, that’s what I use Twitter for – politics. You’re correct, however, it can get very ugly out there. I try to remain mostly neutral – sharing stories without too much hyperbole or attack.

    I like the idea of pulling back like you did, not even having a television but I’m definitely not there yet. Though I know it’s not true, I like to pretend that the social media interactions are a bit more than screaming into a void.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This somehow did not post as a reply to my comment so I did not see it until now. You must be using your phone to reply to comments. I’ve heard the phone messes up like that sometimes.

      There are some psychic vibes in my family, too. Unfortunately, like with you – no lottery winnings.

      WP is a magical place. You think only you could be/ think/ speak a certain way… and then you read other people’s posts and it turns out that you are not alone. There are also posts written by people who are polar opposites. The variety is on point.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I had some problems with posting and comments recently but I changed my theme. I’m hoping it helps. I dislike tech problems. I take them oddly personally – “but I did it right!” Plus, WP takes forever to get back to you so I’m trying to muddle the solution myself.

        Liked by 1 person

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