A few years ago, we implemented a waste segregation system in our apartment complex in Bangalore. We asked residents to separate household waste into three categories – wet waste (bio-degradable), dry waste (recyclable) and reject waste (all the rest). When we put the system in place, we figured out how it was easiest to segregate the waste at source – by allocating separate dustbins and collecting each category of waste separately. If the waste was all mixed in, it was a nightmare to retrieve those recyclable plastic bags and tetra packs with bits of vegetable peels and rotting food sticking to them. Segregating waste at source is a lot easier than separating it out later.
The same applies for information that enters our head. As soon as we watch that political Youtube video, that angry news anchor spouting vitriol or that phony Whatsapp forward, our mind has already engaged with that information. The information has already triggered emotions within us. Once that has happened, once it has had an effect on how we feel, it is difficult to isolate and reject it. The best way to not be affected by information is to not engage with it in the first place by curating it out before it reaches your smartphone, your mailbox or your television screen.
Nassim Taleb writes, “In the battle between my brain and emotions, the only success I have had is in going around my emotions rather than rationalizing them.” To go around an emotion is to not have it in the first place. To rationalize it is to simply justify an emotion that has already had its effect, for it to sink in deeper.
Garbage in – garbage out. And most garbage these days is digital. Not physical.
Inspiration: Fooled by Randomness – Nassim Taleb