Are you learning or being entertained by information?
Learn how your curiosity can be triggered by infotainment
When it comes to learning, there is a very important distinction to make between curiosity that’s based on what you really want to know and momentary, triggered curiosity. If you are not careful, you could spend your whole life being entertained by information.
This weeks video:
When it comes to learning, there is a very important distinction to make between curiosity that’s based on what you really want to know. It’s based on a question that’s just opened in your mind, as opposed to what you might call triggered curiosity. So something that you wouldn’t have cared about before you saw that headline or something that didn’t seem important to you until you read that persuasive article. And those two things are very different.
My mindset is to follow my internal momentary curiosity. Sometimes when I’m in the mood, when my mindset is right to follow that curiosity and to try and detach myself, or at least include a time break. Whenever I feel like my curiosity is being pulled in a certain direction.
The reason that that’s important nowadays is infotainment. So you could spend your whole life just watching really good, interesting educational videos or taking really good educational online courses, reading really good educational books. You could spend your whole life being entertained by information. It’s intended and designed to engage you. The learning that you get out of it is potentially good. That’s a nice reward for you, and you will feel like you’re growing. You will feel like you’re learning and then you’ll move onto the next thing. And you’ll read it, be engaged, learn, feel like you’re growing, feel like you’re learning. And that can all be valuable.
But if you’re doing it in a triggered way, the question is whether it’s the right type of valuable for you. I could learn to code there’s plenty of resources out there. It would just be a waste of my time. There were better things for me to do with life. It’s not a type of interaction with the world that I really enjoy. I love logic based thinking, but I don’t particularly enjoy codifying things in the way that the coding involves, obviously. Also from a longer-term perspective, no code is now becoming more valuable in my head is more in a design space when it comes to things like apps. So I can try what I need to do through a no code and then ask somebody else who can code to write it for me, it’s not valuable to me, despite the kind of push that you see fairly regularly to take courses along those lines. And there are many other examples of things that would be really cool and interesting, and might engage me for a while, but don’t fit with my lifestyle or the life that I want to have, or the type of mindset that I want to cultivate myself.
And I think it’s important to say that this surplus of information isn’t new at all, people have had the perception that there is too much information since ancient Greece. In ancient Greece for the educated elite, there were too many books to read already. Too many people to speak to already. And yes, of course that’s amplified since, and there is now a raft of content out there that you can watch that’s of varying quality, but some of which is educational and good and valuable.
So really the question that you need to consider is how to narrow that down and how to decide where you want to follow your curiosity and answer the questions that are on your mind.
And how to decide where you’ll just let the questions pass, or maybe write them down. That’s always a good trick, is simply have to have a book of questions. We do this with our kids as well. Every question that they ask that we can’t answer, we write down and then if they bring it up again, we answer it. But we don’t do it in the moment we wait until they’re actually curious about something. And that seems to lead to more interesting conversations with them. It certainly does for me as well.
So take control and direct what you’re curious about, how you’re going to follow those curiosity paths and which ones you’re just going to read a quick smattering of so that you know a little bit about it and which ones you’re really going to dive into and try to, know enough of, to know all the things you don’t know, which is my happy place on the Dunning-Kruger curve. What most people call the Valley of despair is my Valley of joy. I really enjoy the moment where you know enough to know that you don’t know anything at all about a topic.
(How to take control)
The way to take control of your curiosity in that way, for me has been occasional audits. I don’t mean doing this all the time. So occasionally audit what you’re clicking on and why. Ask yourself questions? Like, why does this matter to me? What’s important about it for me? Why do I care about it? how will knowing more about this topic improve my life? That that’s just a really simple filter because the vast majority of things you’re curious about, won’t improve your life. There’s the odd exception to that, but not many. And just having that and knowing the balance of things that will improve your life that are in front of your eyes and that you’re attending to and things that will have no impact on you personally, that you’re attending to is useful.
I’m not saying only focused on things that improve your life. I’m saying there’s a balance to be struck there. And what you need to do is see where you’re at now to decide how you want to change that in the future. I always bring in things like, what are the broader effects of this type of knowledge? What, how does it fit with everything else I know. And how will it change me, or how will me engaging in that debate change other people? And that kind of looking at yourself as an agent of change is a useful way to reflect on this.
The real solution to this is a mindset shift. It’s a mindset shift that allows you to decide in the moment and kind of automates your intuitive response to what you see in front of you to be that’s of no interest to me, because, or that that’s really interesting click. But the way you get that is through occasional audits.