”We are to a large extent an imitative society. If one or two or three corporations would undertake to devote just a small fraction of their advertising appropriation along the lines that I have suggested, the procedure would grow by contagion; the economic burden would be bearable, and there might ensue a most exciting adventure – exposure to ideas and the bringing of reality into the homes of the nation.
To those who say people wouldn’t look; they wouldn’t be interested; they’re too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply: There is, in one reporter’s opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost.
This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it’s nothing but wires and lights in a box. There is a great and perhaps decisive battle to be fought against ignorance, intolerance and indifference. This weapon of television could be useful.”
The words above are from the 1958 speech given by Edward R. Murrow, that was partly recreated in the movie ”Good Night, and Good Luck” (full transcript here). Edward tried to warn about the dangers of using TV only to entertain ourselves, and fail to inform and educate.
Almost 60 years later, not much has changed, even though the road is paved with good intentions. Besides television, we now have an extra mass broadcasting channel available in our pockets.
The media fell into a vicious spiral, a permanent war for our attention. More ratings. More pageviews. More clicks. More likes. News are manufactured, hyped, retracted and recycled. Open gaps in our knowledge are revealed, things we didn’t know about (or didn’t care) are used to cause outrage and keep us hooked. And, in the end, are we more informed than we were before?
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m just as guilty as you are. Guilty for consuming content, for following the news, for sharing it with friends (publicly or not). And even guilty of creating it and becoming a slave to pageviews, clicks, comments, subscribers, followers.
Is this really the only possible scenario? And what can we do about it?
Well, we probably can’t save the world (I doubt that Elon Musk is reading my newsletter), but we can pay more attention to our actions and reactions.
How about taking a few days off and stop consuming any type of media? Do a content decluttering, see how you feel. Say goodbye to anything that controls your time and attention, that doesn’t allow you to enjoy the present, the moments you spend with your family and friends. Say goodbye to any unnecessary anxiety sources. Don’t let anyone rob you of a single day who isn’t going to make a full return on the loss.
Actually, the previous phrase doesn’t belong to me, it’s from stoicism – the ancient philosophy that has been guiding my thoughts and actions in the past few years. I discovered it thanks to Ryan Holiday, who has written lots of articles and books about how to apply the wisdom of stoicism in our modern lives.
In today’s Friday Read I want to share with you a few articles related to stoicism that I reread periodically – yes, instead of reading new stuff, I prefer to get back to my favorite resources and just reread them. I don’t have the best memory, so I’d rather make sure that the great lessons stick and I absorb as much as I can out of them (in case you were wondering why most of the articles I share here are a few years old, now you understand why).
Anywayz. Back to stoicism. These resources helped me, and I hope you’ll find them useful as well:
1. Stoicism 101: A Practical Guide for Entrepreneurs – written by Ryan Holiday and published 9 years ago, as a guest post on Tim Ferriss’s blog.
2. 100 things I learned in 10 years and 100 reads of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations – also from Ryan Holiday, published in the autumn of 2016, as part of the promo campaign for The Daily Stoic.
4. The Daily Stoic – the name of Ryan Holiday’s book and project. I suggest you subscribe to the newsletter – you’ll receive short, daily nuggets of stoic wisdom.
5. David “DHH” Heinemeier Hansson: The Entrepreneurial and Unstoppable Stoic – an interview with DHH, one of the founders of Basecamp.
8. Stoicism Reveals 4 Rituals That Will Make You Happy – written by Eric Barker, an author and one of Ryan’s friends.
If you know any other interesting resources related to stoicism, please do share.
One last thing. I know I have lots of Romanian reading this, so here’s something that might be of interest. My favorite Romanian magazine, DoR (Decât o Revistă), is currently hiring – it would be an unique opportunity to work with and help an awesome team of journalists. They have two openings: they’re looking for someone who can help them communicate and amplify their projects’ impact (including The Power of Storytelling conference), and someone to help with events coordinating. They’re both full-time jobs based at DoR headquarters, in Bucharest, Romania. Find out more here and here – and please forward the links to a friend who might be a great fit.
Have an awesome weekend!