These days, there’s a lot of buzz in the media about a politician in Romania, which used to be prime minister, now offered a “warm job” – a well-paid position for which, the media says, that person might not be the most suited candidate. I won’t link to any news on that, I would do the Internet a bad service.
The news is mostly that:
- “If I were the person naming X in that position, I would have chosen a better candidate”.
- “I’m a much better person than X, I deserve even better than X in life”.
- “Political party Y, now in power in Romania, is not that trustworthy”.
- “In Romania, things go wrong”.
While I would understand most people’s reactions for feeling disappointed by a political party, now governing, I think most of the reactions in the media (in various forms) were due to two main reasons:
- “I’m better than the person naming X, why am I not in that person’s shoes?”.
- “I’m better than X, why don’t I get a good position?”.
To me, the things above are not the real news. To me, the real news is that society (in which you, the reader are included) is so preoccupied with this issue that this is even news.
What’s the real impact of the situation above? A small loss in financial aspects for the Romanian State, a big loss in their own image/brand for some parties involved (person doing the naming of the person and the political parties ruling Romania).
To me, that’s not big news.
A tourist is backpacking through the highlands of Scotland, and he stops at a pub to get a drink. And the only people in there is a bartender and an old man nursing a beer. And he orders a pint, and they sit in silence for a while. And suddenly the old man turns to him and goes, “You see this bar? I built this bar with my bare hands from the finest wood in the county. Gave it more love and care than my own child. But do they call me MacGregor the bar builder? No.” Points out the window. “You see that stone wall out there? I built that stone wall with my bare hands. Found every stone, placed them just so through the rain and the cold. But do they call me MacGregor the stone wall builder? No.” Points out the window. “You see that pier on the lake out there? I built that pier with my bare hands. Drove the pilings against the tide of the sand, plank by plank. But do they call me MacGregor the pier builder? No. But you f**k one goat … “.
I’ve never liked TV. I’m not gonna watch TV just so I can chat at the water cooler about Game of Thrones. F**k that. I’d rather reclaim that 300 hours of my life. (Derek Sivers)
“When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.” – The phrase was coined by Alfred Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe (1865–1922), a British newspaper magnate, but is also attributed to New York Sun editor John B. Bogart (1848–1921).
To me, the problem is that the dog bites a man, not that the man bites a dog. I don’t care about the man biting the dog, it’s irrelevant to me, I can’t do pretty much anything about it, it doesn’t influence me. On another hand, I might be interested in how to prevent a dog from biting me, I’m interested in where there are stray dogs in Romania that could bite me, what should I do if I’m bitten, what not to do when a dog’s aggressive and so on. I don’t care about the man biting a dog, that’s irrelevant.
Coming back to the more recent news, I was amazed by the impact of that story. A lot of places I read online were filled with comments about the situation.
How does it influence me, directly?
- Some of my taxpayer money might not be well spent.
- I have lost some trust in some parties involved (people, political parties).
What can I do about this?
- I could vote better next time.
That’s pretty much it, but it’s, all in all, non-important news. It’s not 100% irrelevant, but not far from it.
It should be a small note, not front-page news.
To me, the real news should focus not on the easy part (“Ha-ha! I’m better than X! Ha-ha!, look at me, I’m so good, I would be much better than X!”), but the hard part (“I might improve on so-and-so aspects. Also, I could try doing some things I haven’t thought before.”).
The real difficulty is fixing what’s poor about yourself and actually doing the things which will bring results.
If you lay one week in the sun by the beach you’ll do three things:
- Have fun, perhaps (but, I think that after day one or two you might actually get bored).
- Decrease your health status due to too much sun exposure.
- Waste an opportunity to do something better with your time.
This is the real news, that for an irrelevant reason (having a little fun, it’s not even that much), you prefer not to do self-development and you waste opportunities.
There was a question by a coach, going in the lines of “who wants to be loved, appreciated, thanked?” (not an exact quote, something in those lines). Just one person raised their hands quickly, soon others followed and also raised their hands. He then quoted a study by which pretty much everyone wants that, but the question comes – “Why didn’t, then, everybody raise their hands?”. So, if you want X, why don’t you act like that?
It’s OK to read from time to time irrelevant news. Sure, I want to see a serious person losing face – it’s funny.
But don’t make this top news, don’t choose your votes (a political party or another) on this.
It’s natural to be afraid of terrorists, airplanes, and sharks, but you’re much better off if you are preoccupied by things related to your health (heart issues, obesity, rest, food, exercise, air pollution).
A lot of our fears are irrational.
I know some people who always talk about how much money others make. But they always choose to work easy jobs, never working another job, choosing simple jobs. I’m amazed – why are they preoccupied with how much money other people make, while doing very little to earn more money, themselves?
To me, real news is on two aspects:
- How to improve me? Of course, this means two things – fixing bad things about me and doing other things better. So, on one hand, eating less sugar, and on another eating more vegetables. It goes both ways, plus, and minus. For that aspect, a thing which you can see, I write a blog, and I write in English. Both of these things help with me being a better me (as far as I can tell).
- What opportunities are out there? What ideas could be connected, what projects can be launched, what ideas could be tested? If I write on this blog, if I write on other people’s blogs (guest blogging), if I comment on other people’s blog posts, I will make some connections.
Of course, there are no absolute values, you can always do better:
- Why do I write in English, instead of learning a perhaps more lucrative language for the future, like Chinese?
- Also, why do I blog, even professionally, if in that time I could read, or, even better, do something better with my time like launching a project?
You can always do better. But having an irrelevant piece of news on a lot of people’s radar – now that’s something to see.
Watching an entire show like “Game of Thrones” has its advantages, but if you look at the opportunity cost, you’ll likely have better use of your time. Even watching regular movies (not TV series) at that time is likely a better investment.
“I’m better than X!”. That’s not a good sentence. The real sentence should be “I’m better than myself!” That’s the “fight”, there’s the real battle, be a better you. Sure, you might be better than X. But that was never the real battle.
“X is doing a wrong thing!”. That’s not an issue, to me. The real issue is “Why ain’t I the person I could be?”. I don’t mind if X is doing wrong. Sure, it would help everybody, perhaps even me to some degree, if X would be better. But I’m almost 100% sure that I was a better me, a me who I could really be me, that would help my life more.
Also, let’s say you care about others, your community, your country, the whole world. And you’re disappointed that X did so-and-so. But there are so many other things on which you could use your time:
- I’m not a mayor, but I’ve read a book, available for free (Corrupt cities : a practical guide to cure and prevention) which pretty much gives some clear steps on how to have a better administration. Apply some of those principles, and a lot of things could improve.
- Pretty much everything I need to know about food is in an article, available online. That’s it, one article to rule all the principles you need for eating well – Unhappy Meals | Michael Pollan.
- Try helping an NGO – money, resources, time, promotion. Any of these paths could be a multiplier in multiple aspects (you’ll help others, you’ll be happy, you’ll get more connections, you’ll use the resources which you have better).
- Don’t vote for corrupt politicians. It doesn’t matter if you’ll vote libertarians or socialists, if they’re corrupt they’ll likely not do what they claim.
- Connect things – ideas (journal, blog), people (meet, volunteer, show up, do events), projects (start things).
- Improve your health. Pretty much everything can be improved. Even the need for improvement can be improved by finding just the right level for it. You can have better health, fitness, rest, energy, happiness, well-being, breathable air.
- Improve your knowledge.
OK, what makes news?
- In Romania, the IQ is low. To me, part of the explanation is that people taking IQ tests in Romania are not so used to standardized tests, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t connect A with B, or that, with some exercise, we can’t do mental calculations. It just means we’re poor at standardized tests. But this is real news we all could work on.
- We don’t buy books. I don’t think it’s necessarily as bad as the news makes it look like, perhaps we can learn in other ways (I consider that the spirit enters the world in multiple ways, even if reading is a good solution for this). I would love more news not only on the symptom (people don’t buy), but on the cause. And when I mean “cause”, I mean other things than “we don’t have money”, surely there are other reasons.
- We don’t do sports. What could we do about this? Sure, some news could focus on the symptoms. But what are the root causes for this?
- Regarding the point above, it’s not that we don’t have time. We watch a lot of TV. That’s not a problem in itself, it’s good to watch TV. But if you watch TV instead of other things like reading, running, preparing some healthy food, helping others – now that’s an issue.
- We don’t rest enough – the averages might be fine, but averages imply that some people don’t get an adequate amount of sleep (that’s a worldwide problem).
The media focuses a lot on effects (“study shows people don’t buy books”). I would consider focusing on actions to take (“how to encourage reading?”, “how to make reading sexy?”, “how to get more value from books?”).
Sure, just having news created like articles on Lifehacker won’t sell. You do need the news in a classical format. But, from time to time, letting people know that dogs bite men, what can they do about this could also help.
- I’m not sure if listening to what is considered poor quality music is good for us or not. Why would listening to a silly song be considered wrong? Perhaps it motivates one person, gives them energy, makes them happy. Perhaps you don’t get the same reactions, but does this mean that the music, in itself, is not a good one? If I listen to a classical song that doesn’t give me energy, makes me unproductive, is actually annoying me to some degree – was that a good choice? I consider music a way to receive some form of stimulus – if it makes me energetic and productive, then pretty much all choices could be fine. If I were to introduce a child to music, I’d be careful in choosing something which I consider appropriate for them, but if a person likes a song and I consider that type of music as low quality, I don’t think there’s a problem with that person liking that music.
- On another hand, what is debatable about music is this – what makes you like a simple song, with simple lyrics, repetitive rhythm, and poor quality? What kind of person are you that makes you like that music? You know what’s cool about this question – it can be applied to anything – why do you like Vivaldi? Why do you like Bach? And so on. But, as far as I can tell, it’s an irrelevant question, to me what matters is the energy I get from music, not the “objective” value of it. On a side note, you might want to listen to “Felicità“.
- Re-reading things. I generally don’t like re-reading things, spellchecking, things like that. If I can automate the process, that’s fine, but fine-tuning an article – I’m too bored for that. Perhaps others prefer to do so, I don’t.
Is the point of this article that you should never take a break, and focus on gains? I hope it wasn’t received like this. I’m also less worried that this will be the impact of my article, and much rather see that, around me, more people are focused on fun, on why X got the job, and not on what they could do to have an impact on their lives (professional or personal).
You can watch TV series, and enjoy a week on the beach, but there are other options, and what’s surprising – they might bring you fulfillment on multiple levels (happiness, networking, health, money).
The real news is not that person X was appointed to a “warm” position with lots of money, perhaps not being qualified enough. The real news is that to a lot of people this is news, that this sells, that this is even worth commenting about. The real news is you, part of a society that makes such news viral.
The real news is not a simple fact “Candidate X may note be fitted for the job, and this implies so-and-so”. That’s news for a 5-years old. The real news is “What can I do for my life which is more important than this news?”.
And if you still refer to news about others, try to see what you can influence (votes, involvement in politics, NGOs, caring for the society). Reading the news, and considering X is on a lower level than you helps no one.
Sharon Lee – Most Versatile ‘Hobbies’, https://flic.kr/p/256GonV
PS, 2021.06.09: Un câine a dat peste un bărbat, pe trecerea de pietoni – YouTube (Realitatea News).Partajează pe WhatsApp