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11: The Game Changer

Episode description

Honored to be presenting this wonderful conversation with Yogesh that covers aspects like control of time, self-awareness, brain-food and better decision making. All of which will nudge you towards your passion and making it manifest. Here's a small write up by Yogesh for us -

Reach out to Yogesh - https://www.facebook.com/yogesh.parmar

Reach out to us  - naagasubramanya@gmail.com / Twitter - @ThePassionPeop1

Everyday reading/unreading recommendation(s) for 2019.

Twenty months back, I finally unsubscribed to the Times of India. Delighted to report a substantial, discernible and tangible reduction in everyday anxiety and existential angst. Do note that not reading it is not the same as not subscribing to it. I stopped reading TOI 3-4 years back but was loathe to unsubscribe because of habit and the fact that between 5-10% of the content was still worth its while.

Here’s the thing though. You cannot unknow something after you have known it. You cannot unread stuff. And heavens know, there is much we can do without knowing. What we know, can exhaust us. Newspapers, like everything else, have energy. The undesirable ones, like an abscess, can be a total drain.

The presence of somethings may seem irrelevant, but prove to be harmful nevertheless. This has proved to be the a simple, zero effort, zero cost hack to improve my day - at a preternatural level. If meditation is proving to be too difficult, this may be your fix.

The challenge with newspapers such as Times of India and its ilk is not the content. The content, whether trivial, farcical or comical is frankly, irrelevant.

For anyone who has limited time, attention and bandwidth, here are -from a behavioral sciences perspective - five things for your consideration.

(A) Creation of false binaries: Have you noticed how choices and decisions across a spectrum of subjects get hijacked by the clever creation of the 'other' in our minds - whether imagined or real? This other is then embellished with a narrative that is extreme and as a threat to the very survival of your way of life. Everything is Us versus Them. The deviousness of this strategy is outdone only by its astonishingly high hit rate. Keep shrinking the lowest common denominator with a new level of petulance and you will have an audience that is likely to miss the forest for the trees.

(B) Echo-Chamber effect: Post - truth or not, we are being choicelessly led to embark on a one way journey from looking for evidence to seeking confirmation. Most news stories begin with a conclusion and end with supporting facts that fit the conclusion. Research has reached a point where data can be tortured to confess to any story you want to tell. The key words in our searches have inbuilt biases and on the internet you will find everything about everything. Everything is intuitive and counterintuitive at once. Add analytics to the game and you have passing for news is little more than confirmation bias.

(C) Breathlessness in tonality : Everything is reported with a tone of voice that is designed to make you feel left out or hard done in life or both. Creating FOMO( Fear of Missing Out ) is at the very DNA of how a story is framed and reported. By way of example, one way of doing this is to be utterly facile and casual about a start up raising a few million dollars in seed or series A. The subliminal impact on the reader is that it was for there the taking and s/he missed the bus. The enthusiasm on offer when a start up raises that million dollar round in funding makes it seem as if that money was found under one's pillow upon waking up in the morning.

Elsewhere, some newspapers are equal opportunity offenders. Everything from farmer suicides and economic growth figures to the opening weekend numbers of a film to five ways of fixing cellulite is reported with the same shrillness and without any discretion. There is a ton of research correlating increase in heart rate and intake of news.

(D) Shallowness is the name of the game. This is a much larger and widely prevalent across other forms such as click bait portals, radio and news channels, but with the newspaper, the problem is magnified. The superficiality of the reporting dulls the imagination, provides no stimulus to the intellect, or challenge to an existing world view. In the medium term, it causes both stagnation and a sense of being stifled. By all means, talk about how baked potato ships fortified with omega fatty acids can improve heart health, but for what its worth, do it the rigor needed to torture data to confess that story. This is often conspicuous by its absence.

(E) Language Heuristics: The less said about this, the better. Perhaps the single best thing that automation and bots will bring to the print media is the absence of utter howlers where language, usage, grammar and punctuation are concerned. You don’t want your kids to pick up language from a sordid source.

And so, onwards to recommendations :

At one time and for a long time (10-12 years) I read between five and seven news papers everyday and had a dozen magazine subscriptions that would be devoured on arrival.

Eventually, I realised that information is brain food and journalists are not only hunter - gatherers but sometimes, farmers too. The news paper is the supply chain/restaurant that brings the food to your door step. Depending on mainstream media because it's cheap is like depending on McDonalds for a balanced and nutritious diet.

You want to be responsible, where possible, for the information you consume, know where it's grown, who cooked it, how qualified the chef is and whether they eat their own cooking.

Here are some recommendations of everyday reading - across publications and columnists - that I do across politics, business, finance, technology, entrepreneurship, sports, spirituality, travel, cinema, liberal & performance arts, humour and behavioural sciences. Have read mostly everything by some of the folks in this list in the last decade. In no particular order, here goes :

People:

Santosh Desai. Manu Joseph. Pratap Bhanu Mehta. Natasha Badhwar. Mukul Kesavan. Aakar Patel. Baradwaj Rangan. Rohit Brijnath. Swaminathan Anklesaria Aiyar. Tim Ferriss. Haresh Chawla. James Altucher. James Clear. Vir Sanghvi. David Brooks. Mitali Saran. Nilanjana S Roy. T.S Ninan. Kaushik Basu. Anurag Behar. Osman Samiuddin. Sam Altman. Naval Ravikant.Jack Kornfield. Paul Graham. Arun Maira. Atul Gawande. Malcolm Gladwell. Kevin Rose. Sam Harris. Nassim Nicholas Taleb. David Eagleman. Yuval Noah Harari.

Publications:

Livemint. The NewYork Times. News Laundry. The Guardian. Farnam Street Blog. The Elephant Journal. BrainPickings. The Atlantic. Aeon. Harvard Business Review. The Cricket Monthly. Psychology today. Readers Digest. The Ken. The Caravan. The wire. NPS. 

Mint is the only print edition that I subscribe to. Five years and counting. It is by a country mile, the best broadsheet in the neck of the woods.

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