If you are reading this, you are probably browsing too many inconsequential posts. Don’t worry, I won’t be the one to cast the first stone.
Nowadays, so many famous and not so famous investors share their wisdom. And wisdom, I need. Lots. So I study what they write. Whenever Mark feels inspired, Fred has a vision, Sam posts awesomeness or an older investor reveals her secrets, I read. So many things are going on in tech right now, you cannot afford to be out of the know. I cannot network effectively without having an inkling of what city is becoming the next Silicon Valley or which startup just burned $100 M and crashed; what feature Facebook secretly snapped up or the leadership issues facing the evil empire. My AI education has only just begun and I already know less than when I started, to the point that I have dropped out of my blockchain program.
So it’s time to weigh up ourselves and review our daily intake of nothing. Here are a few reasons I have decided to stop browsing the web for knowledge. Despite my appreciation for lists of ten, I stopped at four to keep this conversation brief.
First, it seems that when you finish reading one article that rings true and makes complete sense, you are only a click away from reading another that proves the opposite, both bursting with just as many “logical” and “rational” inferences as the other. It’s like a twisted parenting style. They tell us to always persevere but to remember to fail fast. They push us to be ourselves unless we can fake it till we make it. If the future is already here, how is it that they are such visionaries? When you form your opinions online, your view of the world is basically a random (but not so random) function of your social media feeds.
‘Unless advice has been evaluated through evidence-based methods, you can’t judge its validity. In addition, half-baked analyses of anecdotal evidence often blur the lines between cause and consequence. Is someone successful because they avoided meetings, or are they able to avoid meetings because they are successful?’ — Emre Soyer & Robin M. Hogarth
Secondly, everything seems to be recycled this days. Thankfully Medium was not invented by Gutenberg, so the planet is only wasting away terabytes instead of trees. And it’s hard to get to the original sinner of conventional internet wisdom. George Orwell put it best in his Politics and the English Language essay on how the coming of the digital era sparked the downward spiral of writing.
‘As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug.’ — George Orwell*
Thirdly, your favorite thinkers may be writing to you but hardly for you. Most operators and investors publish for straight forward reasons. The misunderstood put pen to paper to explain themselves. The pragmatic communicate to promote — yes, an eloquent ghost-wrtter in an obscure PR agency may hide behind the words of your favorite blogging VC. The vain blog for retweets, green hearts or snapchat points. So fake vision, fake honesty and fake vulnerability is often all we get. Only the unreasonable write to start a revolution.
´For every gem, there were increasingly a lot of rocks. We’ve decided to give ourselves a break from wading through the boat trash in search of the good stuff.’ — Mat Panzarino & Jon Shieber, anouncing the end of the Crunch Network**.
Finally and most importantly, our over-browsing may be to the detriment of our thinking. Digital gurus are lousy spiritual guides. Reconciliation with our failures is a silent journey and wisdom can only emerge from within. Moreover, reading a thousands of tweets will never replace what happens in your heart and your mind when you read a novel.
Most posts, podcasts and slideshares are much ado about nothing. If I continue on my current trajectory, I will probably get fat on buzzwords and attain high levels of platitudes in my bloodstream. So I am thinking of going into a diet. Maybe you should too. Instead of reading a new post about success, you will be better of meditating, taking a walk or re-reading those highschool poems that touched you. Get on the regimen of books and old plays to understand more. For if you try to stay in the loop, you may be missing out on yourself.