Review and notes from ‘How to do nothing’

… in which I review/ the books/articles/stuff I have read/reading now

Just completed reading Jenny Odell’s “How to do nothing”highly recommend the book. Learned about it from Barack Obama’s favourite book list. In the book, Odell writes about the information/misinformation crisis of information overload that social media have brought about, her solution is that, take a ‘Digital detox’ route without giving up social media altogether. In the book, Odell argues three approaches: (1) Be mindful of the stimulus all around us. Deep listening helps to open ourselves up ot the soundscape around us. Take a walk in nature, learn about the different sounds that are coming at us and connect with the sound without assigning any value or thought to them, almost like in a meditation; (2) Create a ‘third space’, where we can read the posts and feel the urge to respond but take them slowly. [Read more about this in Jenny’s Medium post]. Reject the urge of FOMO (fear of missing out) and instead adopt a stance of NOMO (need for missing out). Deliberately cut out the chatter and noise for sometime and selectively focus and connect based on our own thoughts, and logic, rather than swayed by the ideas and thoughts in all the chatter around us; (3) Connect locally and use decentralised social media such as Mastodon and Scuttlebutt; (4) embrace bioregionalism as an ecological principle to our social media practice as well — connect to the local stories, and help out with the local issues rather than be swayed by everything that is happening around us on large social media chatter.

Diogenes, who lived in a tub

The book has a nice section on Diogenes — the Greek philosopher who lived in a tub and was quite a rebel in his times. The approach of the original cynics and cynic philosophy to carefully examine the life and live life on your own terms was quite a powerful message and a refraining theme throughout the book. Going forward, it’s a good idea to cut out the chatter, take a more ‘diet’ approach as Odell writes in the book, and connect to nature, rather than devote all attention to social media chatter.

Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Also in:

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