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Eating your info vegetables

Giffengrabber keep sending me food for thought, it seems.

Most recently, he sent me this quote from user ‘ninkendo’ over on Orange Site:

Back when scarcity was a thing, the act of powering through with media you didn’t initially like was one of the primary ways of maturing your taste and learning to like new things.

Only consuming media which hooks you instantly is a good way to achieve the media equivalent of a sugar-only diet.

I don’t have an answer for this to be honest, it’s just an observation.

I agree that it can often be worthwhile getting into some things that might take a bit of an effort.

For non-fiction, How to Read a Book is still good. Even though it came out in 1972, it’s core message of reading & synthesizing is still relevant, even more relevant, in today’s hypertext world.

That book has a chapter on fiction, too, a good one, but nothing beats Comme un roman for ridding ourselves from the chore parts of fiction and cultivating a breezy love of reading for pleasure.

The part I disagree with ‘ninkendo’ about is the notion that scarcity helped here.

An analogy for an opposing argument would be that curating what media we engage with, from a rich selection, is like selecting fine and healthy ingredients for a meal, whereas in the age of scarcity, we had to eat what was served, even when that was junk, even when it was the intellectual equivalent of being trapped in the candy store.

When I first moved out from home, I was so desperate for information and parasocial company that I turned the TV on even when only shopping channels where on. Shows that were nothing but one long ad. That only lasted a few days, but that was hardly programming that was worthwhile and taste-maturing.

The other argument people often have in favor of how the old information scarcity system worked is shared experience. Everyone talked about the same TV shows, same records, same books to some extent. There’s a value in shared experiences but it’s also from an evolutionary standpoint kind of wack. If we’re all getting the same input we’ll be less likely to come up with cool new things. IDK. I’m not saying it wasn’t nifty, but I usually tuned out from the main TV shows like Fort Boyard or whatever junk they were showing in favor of digging into some comics or books.

We’re heading into an infocalypse where we’re about to drown in the sweet sorrow of fake machine-generated junk. Curating is going to be even more vital and even more difficult, and I agree with the Orange Site poster that choosing based on instant appeal and palatability is not going to be a good selection criteria.

For example, on YouTube I’ve blocked the “recommended videos” that appear in the sidebar and after the video. That was a stream of noise, garbage, and false balance. I need to find other, higher-quality ways to challenge my echo chamber.