The content we consume impacts the content we create. By improving what you look at, you can improve what you build.
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I recently started rereading Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life. It’s amazing how much I’ve changed in the last 4 years since I first read it.
It’s true that you get more value from rereading a good book than you do from incessantly trying to keep up with the latest garbage, ghostwritten NY Times bestseller.
Anyways, Peterson goes deep into the biology of our visual processing system.
Our eyes are designed to see immense detail only at the point of focus. Everything else is blurry. Human brains would need to be 3-4x bigger to be able to process all the information in the periphery.
We don't really need that, though. Our minds fill in a lot of the details. In a secure environment, we know what most things look like and can construct a mental image of our surroundings. So it may seem like you see everything clearly—you know what and where things are. But really all you can see is exactly the point of your visual focus.
Peterson argues, therefore, that what we look at is what defines our experience in life. It defines who we become
If we choose to focus on suffering and injustice, that’s all we will see. If we choose to focus on gratitude and thankfulness, we’ll find more opportunities to feel this way.
But it doesn’t stop there. There is the famous Jim Rohn line that “you’re the average of the 5 people you associate with most.”
Rohn is saying that you will inevitably focus on whatever your friends focus on. Rene Girard’s theory of mimetic desire might have something to do with that. But it's also true that obese people are statistically more likely to own obese dogs.
But it’s not just the 5 people you spend time with IRL, it’s the content you consume. As if there is a difference...
Most of us spend far more time interacting digitally with content than we do with people in the real world.
interacting with a YouTube video or Tweet is considered engagement with a person. But it’s really not. It’s engagement with content.
The content that you view has a devastating impact on your life, your output, your happiness. Yet we are so careless with who we let influence us.
We scroll feeds, allowing algorithms to decide what we should focus on, inadvertently letting our minds be sculpted to a new path, a new value system.
Have you ever stopped to ask yourself these questions:
Do you think this algorithm has your best interest at heart? I wouldn’t bet on it.
When was the last time you learned something useful from social media? I honestly couldn’t tell you... I learn from YouTube videos, but it’s more of a search engine than a social media platform.
Why are you scrolling? What is it that you’re looking for? I catch myself doing it and the answer is nothing... I’m just scrolling.
The most underestimated aspect of content creation is that what you consume has a disproportionate impact on what you can create.
People who consume aspirational tweets and empty tips and tricks produce these types of content.
People who consume new ideas, stretch the limits of their minds, and guard their attention produce some of the most insightful and useful content I’ve ever read.
It’s no coincidence. It’s in your biology.
What you choose to look at determines who you are. Who you are determines how you express yourself.
What will you look at next?