Subscriptions are better than surfing.

There is a conflict between the value of staying informed on news relevant to one's passions and the value of freedom from compulsions to explore the infinite unknown of interesting media. Many call the presence-destroying compulsion to search the web "the fear of missing out."

Surfing the web has been

  • the source of inspiration for so many of my best projects,
  • my introduction to artists who I think about everyday,
  • a way of keeping informed about distant, dear friends' life events, 
  • how I hear about most of my favorite books.

I cannot begin to explain how the media I consume while web surfing have enriched my life.

The problem is that the power of this inspiration-spitting machine cannot be sustained by this link-following, multiple-feed-checking, internet rabbit hole technique. Each source of inspiration probably links to many other websites of interest, each of which probably do the same. Web surfers becomes so busy sorting through short-form media that they can't savor the long-form. What could be the point of seeking inspiration if it consumes all the time needed to act on inspiration?

The Solution

This is how you convert your media consumption from constant phone checking to a well-curated list of everything that interests you, nothing that doesn't and only takes ten minutes per day to check.

  • Pick a single feed. Email is best.

    • You only want to have to check one list to find everything relevant to you or you will once again have to remember every news source you like. Looking for this news is what causes distraction. Email is great because you likely already have to check it for personal communications. You can still do this using inbox filters or separate email addresses. All that matters is that there is one feed or inbox that combines all of your email addresses, subscriptions, mailing lists.
  • Go through your browser history.
    • Look at every website that you recently viewed. Note all the ones that provided a new idea, you loved, inspired you, made you add something to your reading/to-watch list, anything you want more of. If the inspiration came from an app, note the app's website and delete it from your device. Blogs written/curated by people who share your passions are most valuable.  They understand why you like what you like and are therefore able to pick only the best of the best media.
  • Find a way to send the selected media to your inbox.
    • Go to each website and look for a mailing list to which you can add your email address. Youtube vloggers are valuable for the same reason as written bloggers. They often have mailing lists on their personal websites. You can edit your social media notifications so you only are notified about updates from your closest friends. You can mute social media "friends" with whom you are obliged to have a public status, but whose content does not interest. IFTTT is useful for linking to trickier news sources, like RSS feeds.
  • "Always be iterating."
    • Whenever you find something that you want more of, subscribe. If a mailing list has not provided anything interesting enough for you to read for the past three releases, unsubscribe.

 

By the time you are done, you might be receiving everything you found by surfing. This is okay.  You now have a centralized way to edit your media consumption. Seeing all your media in a glance allows you to sort the mildly interesting from the life-enriching. This solution does not mean you should never surf the web again, its just no longer necessary in order to get the media you love. If you don't surf the web, you can now rest assured your most important news is in your inbox.