Brainjunk and the killing of the internet mind

Michael Pollan, the excellent-selling author of food books such as The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food Rules, summarized his philosophy of eating pretty virtually. “Eat meals. Not an excessive amount of. Mostly flowers.” The concept changed into spending extra on high-quality and keep away from the varieties of junk food that are deeply dangerous for our bodily bodies.

I think it’s well past time to borrow that philosophy for our brains. Today, we consume a wealthy and decadent buffet of brain junk — of useless tweets, of pix of human beings we don’t understand, of articles written in ten mins to stoke the content material boiler. The dopamine cycle ensures that we maintain craving extra content, the same dopamine cycle that makes a Happy Meal a happy meal.

So allow me to advocate a bit framework: “Enjoy content material. Not an excessive amount of. Mostly paid”. I am considering this brain-junk assignment as the arena has burned down this week at two of America’s maximum storied courses. On Monday, we discovered that Newsweek fired its editor-in-chief and government editor alongside Celeste Katz, a reporter who had covered the news of the Manhattan DA’s office raiding Newsweek headquarters some weeks ago. Following the raid, the founder and chairman of preserving company Newsweek Media Grou andh the agency’s finance director (who takes place to be the chairman’s wife, have left the constructing as nicely.

Meanwhile, in Southern California, we’ve witnessed the complete breakdown of the Los Angeles Times, which has been roiled with struggle because of the installation of Lewis D’Vorkin as editor last October. Last week, Tronc, the figure business enterprise of the Times, fired D’Vorkin alongside writer Ross Levinsohn, the previous for presumed mismanagement of the newsroom, the latter possibly for alleged sexual harassment at a former company.


This week, resources and leaks imply that Tronc is attempting to promote the paper to Patrick Soon-Shiong, a billionaire who made his cash inside the biotech space, and who has been trying to buy the paper from Tronc for more than a year now. Those talks are nevertheless ongoing. If antique soldiers don’t die and fade away, then media organizations are pretty an awful lot the opposite: they die, and they die in awesome, political fashion. SpaceX, this isn’t.

If it wasn’t clean, we’re not speaking about small city newspapers dropping their classifieds sales and going stomach up. The net and its disruption of traditional print commercial enterprise fashions have now reached the watershed of publications like Newsweek and the Los Angeles Times, family names with massive — paying — subscriber bases who loved their Pulitzer Prizes. It’s now not sufficient. And frankly, nothing is enough in a world in which readers crave brain junk at the expense of all other excellent content material. People need free content, and that they want a lot of it, and media companies had been greater than glad to oblige. More articles, greater movies, all affordably made and allotted thru the purveyors of brain junk like Facebook and Twitter.

Lewis D’Vorkin, before joining the Los Angeles Times, changed into chief product officer at Forbes, where he pioneered the open platform model that has juiced Forbes visitors even as tarnishing that ebook’s emblem equity. That’s why Tronc hired him — he understood brain-junk and just how beneficial it may probably be. It is the deep irony of our times that readers, often deeply educated, will shell out $30 for a meal in New York or San Francisco even as paying hundreds in rent, most effective to keep away from paying a couple of dollars a month for a guide, not to mention ten. The month-to-month charge for the New York Times is the price of an unmarried cocktail these days in Manhattan.

The bulk of my buddies don’t pay for subscriptions. The bulk of the internet doesn’t pay for subscriptions. People will gladly spend hours an afternoon studying brain-junk, to keep away from even the slightest rate that could improve the fine of what they are studying. And so, even storied publications are going to fall by using the wayside so we are able to examine approximately “7 Tips on How To Improve Media.”

If you need to consume McDonald’s, be my guest. If you want to read something LinkedIn calls news, pass right in advance. But in case you truly need to study, to improve your mind, to enhance your recognition and expertise of the sector, you have to shell out. Start paying. If you’re about to study articles for an hour or, begin considering what that point is well worth and whether you may spend greater to maximize the nice of what you are analyzing.

Enjoy content material. Not too much. Mostly paid. And if an ebook — sure, together with TechCrunch — doesn’t offer paid options, ask for them. Force publishers to take your cash and align themselves along with your pastimes over advertisers. Break those dopamine habits, and quit brain junk.

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Jeremy D. Mena
Alcohol geek. Future teen idol. Web practitioner. Problem solver. Certified bacon guru. Spent 2002-2009 researching plush toys in Miami, FL. Won several awards for exporting tar in Libya. Uniquely-equipped for managing human growth hormone in Libya. Spent a weekend implementing fried chicken on the black market. Spoke at an international conference about working on carnival rides in Miami, FL. Developed several new methods for donating jack-in-the-boxes in Edison, NJ.