With a title that recalls Wait But Why’s method of considering a typical lifespan that I’ve mentioned a few times here, Oliver Burkeman’s new book, Four Thousand Weeks: Time and How to Use It, almost sounds like an anti-productivity manual.
2019 has been an … interesting year for political news reporting and current affairs.
What we learned about the media this election – The Guardian
The British public were more than capable of creating their own disinformation. Ahead of the election there were concerns about foreign manipulation of the electoral process. Although there were some issues – the prime minister refused to let a report into Russian money be released pre-election, and Reddit suggested a Russian-linked account may have helped distribute leaked US-UK trade papers – ordinary, politicised Britons proved more than capable of creating their own fake posts.
Looking forward to 2020, here are 10 themes for news – New York Times
People crave transparency. Similar to the shift we’ve seen in the farm-to-table movement around food sourcing and production, people want to know what goes into news production. In dozens of conversations with people around the world, we heard that people want more than just the story: they want to know why it’s being told, who is telling it and how it came together. News consumers want to pull back the curtain to understand why a headline was written a certain way, or why a particular story was featured over another on a home page. They want to know that specific information was verified by multiple sources, or that reporters pored over thousands of pages of documents for a particular story.
The public hears claims of “fake news” just as often as people who work in media. When people understand the process and people involved in telling a story, they are more likely to trust it.
It’s not all bad news, of course.
99 good news stories you probably didn’t hear about in 2019 – Future Crunch
If we want to change the story of the human race in the 21st century, we have to change the stories we tell ourselves.
But even here, we need to be careful.
The year in good news 2019 (and the bad news about good news) – Kottke
But at this point I feel obligated to remind myself (and perhaps you as well) that focusing mostly on positive news isn’t great either. A number of thinkers — including Bill Gates, Steven Pinker, Nicholas Kristof, Max Roser — are eager to point out that the world’s citizens have never been safer, healthier, and wealthier than they are now. And in some ways that is true! But in this long piece for The Guardian, Oliver Burkeman addresses some of the reasons to be skeptical of these claims.
Let’s see what the new year has in store.
It’s soon that time of year again, explains Oliver Burkeman, “that segment of the calendar known to publishers and motivational speakers worldwide as New Year, New You.” Anyone thinking of new resolutions, or just repeating last year’s failed ones, should read this article on why this approach really isn’t the best way of going about things.
[Self-help books that encourage these Big Change/Fresh Start ideas] don’t keep on selling despite the fact that they don’t work, but rather because they don’t work: they deliver a short-lived mood boost, and when that fades, the most obvious way to revive it is to go back for more.
He offers us another way, a smaller, more incremental way of bringing about change, one that encourages us to ease up on ourselves a little.
In fact, as the Buddhist-influenced Japanese psychologist Shoma Morita liked to point out, it’s perfectly possible to do what you know needs doing—to propel yourself to the gym, to open the laptop to work, to reach for the kale instead of the doughnuts—without “feeling motivated” to do it. People “think that they should always like what they do and that their lives should be trouble-free,” Morita wrote. “Consequently, their mental energy is wasted by their impossible attempts to avoid feelings of displeasure or boredom.” Morita advised his readers and patients to “give up” on themselves—to “begin taking action now, while being neurotic or imperfect or a procrastinator or unhealthy or lazy or any other label by which you inaccurately describe yourself.”
Worth a try. tempted to look through this blog’s posts from Decembers and Januarys gone by, to see how badly I’ve done with all this previously.
Oliver Burkeman wrote The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking. A great title, at least.