Information Density : A forgotten Art

I was doing some good ol’ thinking the other day and I realized something that’s changed in the past couple decades. Information Density. I have spent a lot of my life in the same depressive and anxious loops reaching out to youtube as a learning resource to help me escape. I now realize that I’ve wasted a lot of time that I could have used getting the same information from fewer, more informationally dense (such as books) works. I’m not trying to create some panic or frenzy here, I just want others to save themselves from the mistakes I’ve made, and save themselves time in becoming the best they can be. In that spirit, a quote :

“Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

Otto Von Bismarck

I define information density as the amount of usable and pragmatic information that is provided in any given exchange of information. Considering the value placed on data which is basically just sets of raw information I think it is a concept becoming progressively more important.

Media

I have this uneasy feeling about media that I’d like to share. Slowly, over time media, social or otherwise is becoming smaller. I wonder why this is exactly? I think it’s because creating more attention via lowering attention spans creates a large supply of exactly what the current media has created a market for attention.

By creating a demand for human attention, because human attention gives you a backdoor into human psychology and given access to human psychology you can access people’s wallets and further access their attention and where it points. All it takes from here is some fancy reverse engineering and boom, you have the ultimate streamlined manipulation machine. This is what I would call an “attention economy”. This attention economy provides these companies with a streamlined way to do many things, of which I’ve compiled a list below.

  • Manipulate Information for their purposes
  • Manipulate your emotions and reactions, for research of course
  • Sell you on products that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise
  • Radicalize you by suggesting only things that align with your beliefs, thus creating an echo chamber
  • And many more!

Now, I want you to think about how many children are given tablet, phones, laptop, and other electronic devices and use them all the time. They’re the new babysitter. So from the time these kids are born, they’ve had a screen with bright lights in their face and food full of sugar. That’s surely not going to go horribly wrong right? Surely we won’t end up with some sort of, mental health epidemic right? right?

Mental Health

So, we’ve established that the goal of the attention economy is to create more attention. But what you may not realize is that it also makes sense for it to create more emotion in general. Because creating a strong emotion makes you come back for more like a little monkey addicted and looking for it’s next fix. We’ve all heard the king of all marketing slogans “sex sells” well, that turns out to be true in the information age too. Tik Tok has created an entire ecosystem where people worth is based on being entertaining or attractive. Entertaining can have a lot of issues in and of itself, just look at celebrity drug addiction numbers for that. But what happens when we create a society based around being more and more attractive and our dating apps are placing progressively more emphasis on vanity rather than personality? I think it’s fairly obvious to me at least that creating this system is going to have an insanely large effect on the populous, not just the sets of values that will likely lean towards a negative schema placing more value on wealth, vanity, and attention rather than thing like health, empathy, and self improvement. And, the results are clear (in my opinion).

The aforementioned echo chambers are something that I’ve personally suffered from. I’ve spent countless hours watching self improvement videos only to end up in the same place I was before. Were they lying? Was I doing something wrong? Am I just applying it incorrectly? Well, some of those may be true but I believe the primary problem lies with the fact that I was using the videos to make myself feel like I was doing the hard work, constantly studying, gathering more information. When I should have learned one thing at a time, from a more information dense source and APPLIED it. Lots of advice you find on the internet can be summed up in one sentence, so why watch the whole video, get something more informationally dense (a book, a friend, a partner) and actually APPLY what you read. If you are stuck in a social media depression. PLEASE JUST APPLY THE THINGS YOU ALREADY KNOW. The vagueness is where the self improvement industry makes their money. In an attention based product they will always leave it vague so that you come back wanting more. However, if you do something like say, purchase a book, there is no value in the author continuing to lead you on. The book will give you the information, and some fluff to make you feel like you got a good deal since there are so many pages. Most can be scanned, read not in their entirety. But the book will always try and provide complete information that is pragmatic. If you would like some good books for self improvement and finance, check my reading list.

Anyways, how do we avoid it?

So it all lost? Is everything going to die and our people going to be eternally depressed? Nah, prolly not. Just realizing this reality puts you in a better situation than most. If possible, I think that my dear readers should exercise caution when consuming media without considering the repercussions on your mental health and attention span. Read books, spend time with friends, and be merry. While the general populous will likely fall victim to this, the least people can do is try and share what is really happening through their unique lens so that others may become educated. Not tryna be woke or anything, just hope it helps someone. I’ve spent a lot of my life on youtube, in the same depressive echo chambers in my lonely room trying to improve. Now, I finally realize that self improvement in and of itself is an industry, and the people who create self improvement content often want to decrease the information density in videos although they could be surmised in one line. Most self help books are 90% fluff, just find your own path and believe in yourself. We’re all gonna make it brah.

WAGMI / NGMI | Know Your Meme

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