My kids love to tell me how much better their generation is than mine. This is what I want of course, being their mother, but they’re so cocky about it that I have to debate them. My girls point to the internet, and how they’re infinitely more informed than I ever was. I have to remind them that this influx of news doesn’t always educate and often just makes it harder to find the truth.
Take for instance, your social media feed at this very moment.
If it’s anything like mine, it’s filled with angry stories and click-bait to websites you’ve never heard of. These posts usually support someone’s political stance and, before you scream LIBERAL or CONSERVATIVE at me, all sides of this particular fence are guilty.
I recently decided to stop reading any story that had a political slant or wasn’t from a network news website (they need ratings too badly to express opinions). I did this because it has become increasingly impossible to tell truth from click-bait.
I can tell you, as someone who runs a website, that we will do anything to get your click. Yes, sometimes even lead with a sensational title that speaks more to your itchy click-finger than it does to the actual post (See above-Sorry!).
I stopped reading click-bait posts from unfamiliar websites and turned my attention to podcasts, which has been truly eye-opening.
I spent the last few months listening to stories about true crime and old Hollywood. I learned about S-Town and went on an extended hunt for Richard Simmons. I’ve eavesdropped on physicists debating life on other planets, and listened in on couples therapy. That’s when something incredible happened.
I got happier.
I felt refreshed in a way that I haven’t in ages. I also noticed that my brain seemed to be functioning better. I was less forgetful and had more and better ideas.
And, because I feel it needs repeating, I got happier.
There might be a physiological reason for this. According to Canadian neuropsychologist Donald Hebb, thousands of neurons are triggered any time a person experiences something, which creates a neural network. Repetitive thinking causes neural networks to be triggered again and again. Your brain starts to follow that neuron pathway out of habit, like taking a familiar road home. If this is true (it’s just garbage I found on the internet, so it might not be), it might explain the need to continually read (and share) stories that verify a person’s stance. Your brain slips into that familiar process, which is reaffirming and soothing, but it also isn’t rewarding in any way. New thought processes, on the other hand, stimulate fresh neurons and create previously uncharted neural networks. You are, in a sense, traveling new territory.
Remember this the next time YOU are tempted with click-bait. Sure, it might be nice to hear an angry political rant from someone who agrees with you, but do you really want to put your brain on autopilot? Maybe give those neurons a trip down a less traveled path and see how it makes you feel. I’ve included some websites and podcasts below to help you get started. Feel free to include your favorite sites in the COMMENTS section below but again, please NO POLITICAL STUFF! Well, unless you can prove that Donald Trump really IS making us fat.
Serial Podcast– https://serialpodcast.org
You Must Remember This– http://www.youmustrememberthispodcast.com
My Favorite Murder– https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/my-favorite-murder-karen-kilgariff-georgia-hardstark/id1074507850?mt=2
Missing Richard Simmons– https://www.missingrichardsimmons.com
The Bloggess– http://thebloggess.com