Best Of The Web
“Could it be a civic duty to tune out the news? Journalist Oliver Burkeman floats this provocative idea in a recent essay published in the Guardian newspaper. We owe it to society — and to ourselves — to tune out a good deal of the time, he says.
Burkeman’s essay makes the case with more detail and nuance than space allows here, and he writes with a charming lucidity that makes reading it a pleasure. For me, his most important observation is that the digital revolution has upended the problem of scarcity as it applies to information. For all of human history up to the present, humans had too little information; suddenly, information is everywhere. What’s scarce now is attention.
Today, we carry more news in the palm of a hand than it is possible to digest. So, how do we choose where to spend our limited bandwidth? Purveyors of information battle for each fleeting increment of our time, and they have found that their best weapon is our existing set of interests and biases. If we read a little bit about a subject, and thus signal our interest, their algorithms pounce on us to offer more of the same.
Fed an endless diet of information tailored just for us, we can easily fall into a distorted version of the world. Just as easily, we can find others through social media who share and reinforce that view. We get the feeling that each day’s news confirms our worst fears and begin to wonder whether the world is coming unhinged. All of this is a function of information merchants trying to seize our scarce attention and hold it as long as they can.”
JJ Editor's Daily Picks
"My fellow progressives actually doubt if I'm still a Democrat just because I won't accept Nicolas Maduro's tyrannic regime in my home of Venezuela."
"One of the particular characteristics of the Trump presidency is the way Trump consistently creates drama – some by design, some not – that makes it hard to see the broader outline of events."
"Israel’s Eurovision entry barely made a dent on the scoreboard but there’s no doubt that the Jewish State was the real winner of the Eurovision Song Content 2019."
"The Saturday Night Live Finale Was a Mishmash of Everything It Needs to Fix: The send-off to Season 44 might end up functioning as a send-off to a particularly toothless era for the show."
"The biggest challenge in measuring real compensation and Americans’ well-being is the extraordinary growth in new products that have brought new benefits not captured in any government consumer price metric."
"...we’ve grown wary of the so-called attention economy, which, in the name of corporate profits, exploits our psychological vulnerabilities in ways that corrode social life, diminish privacy, weaken civic cohesion..."
"Regardless of how healthfully we live or how much medical care we receive, we will all die. Yet, understanding this intellectually is vastly different from truly feeling it; raw confrontation with our own mortality is frightening."
"Power, although hard to handle, is greatly desired. There is no person or group or sect or party or mob that doesn’t want power, convinced that it would know how to use it as no one ever has before."
"It turns out that feminism and faith both have high expectations of husbands and fathers, if for very different ideological reasons, and that both result in higher-quality marriages for women."
"We live in an age of radical diets: Paleo, vegan, low-glycemic, low-carb, low-fat, high fat (keto). Which one’s best for maintaining a healthy weight?"
"During a military mission, whether in peace or in war, if a pilot or soldier can’t identify an object, they have a serious problem: How should they react, without knowing if it is neutral, friendly or threatening? "
"The Germans, the Jews and the Poles Are on the Battlefield Again: The Poles see themselves as the ultimate victims, the Germans repent and pass anti-BDS resolutions, and Israel speaks in two voices..."