“I love my cigar too, but I take it out of my mouth once in a while.”–Groucho Marx
The firehose is the daily influx of content chosen for you by algorithms and robots. If you want to maintain control over who you are and what you believe, you must turn off the firehose.
The challenge is how?
It means being intentional about everything you read and watch (like we used to!). Instead of relying on automatic feeds, embrace the clunk and deliberately choose what to consume. It means being a little choosy at first (Sip before you swig) so you can limit your intake to fewer better ideas.
Let me share my personal experience.
I no longer read the news or endlessly scroll through “infinite” feeds. I subscribe to a few email newsletters, and I follow writers instead of topics. I read about a book per month and listen to a handful of podcasts. I’d guess I’m exposed to the words and thoughts of a dozen thinkers, whom I’ve selected intentionally.
Compare this to when I was on multiple social media platforms and gavaged myself with the thoughts of 1,000 different voices. I’d estimate half of them were cynical content creators, another half trolls, and the rest probably bots.
And for what? Most of the Internet is just Other People’s Problems (Don’t get sucked into the vortex) expressed in the most extreme way possible (Nothing is on fire). When you detach yourself from the firehose, you can choose a different path, one that doesn’t involve constant distraction. (Decide how you want to procrastinate).
You can welcome boredom to the table, the amuse bouche before curiosity kicks in. You also make space for understanding, which can only happen when your brain isn’t actively chewing (Knowledge is not the same as information).
Attempting to drink from a firehose will only leave you waterlogged. This is the great irony of our information era.
Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink. What good are all the world’s ideas, without the time to think?