The Filter

I don't know about you, but I feel constantly bombarded with information these days. My email inbox is full of marketing emails and newsletters and I have a whole separate inbox for the alerts from blogs I read. Then there are my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds. And of course the podcasts I subscribe to. My stomach churns at the idea of using Snapchat or Pinterest (more than I do) because how could I possibly keep up?

I keep hearing about people taking tech vacations and getting rid of their social media accounts. That's fine for some, but I am more of a moderation person -- I don't like giving anything up completely because I feel like it's just throwing the baby out with the bath water. I like to at least see what's going on, even if I don't have to get fully involved. The truth is that a big part of life is separating the noise from the important information.

So I am getting better at filtering.

And choosing. One way that I'm making more of an effort on this front is to make sure that I actively choose longer articles I want to read, as well as books and podcasts that provide deeper analysis on topics. There's a real danger these days of knowing what's going on, without actually understanding anything.

That's why I'm happy to see some newspapers embracing the subscription model again as a way to help pay their journalists to do deeper investigation and write commentary, as well as report the news. (For full disclosure, I certainly have a personal stake in it. My living -- and the Hub's for that matter -- has always come from subscription news and information services, relying on people paying to have access to news, data and analysis.)

Many creatives provide some content for free, but it's marketing for how they really make their money, so I always make it a point to buy their books when they appeal and have even taken a course or two. And although I didn't like it at first, as I thought it was a bit of a cop out (why not just charge?), I'm growing much more interested in the concept of patronage. I listen to a podcast that is mostly funded through Patreon and the Guardian's constant plea for monetary support has not fallen on deaf ears.

In all aspects of life, there's always going to be a lot of noise, and these days I have to keep reminding myself that it's important to try to turn down the volume and make sure I also seek out what I want to read and listen to.

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