Hacker News Re-Imagined

Ask HN: How do you deal with information addiction?

There is so much information on the internet that I feel like would benefit my life immensely, but I can't consume it all, and that makes me feel uncomfortable. I bookmark, bookmark, and bookmark all kinds of interesting things I come across on the internet and have amassed a few thousand bookmarks, yet I feel unfulfilled and my hunger for information feels unending.

I feel like if I stop, I'd lose out on something that'll be valuable.

4 days ago

Created a post 76 points @hidden-spyder • 1 comments

Ask HN: How do you deal with information addiction?

@forgotmypw17 2 days

Replying to @hidden-spyder 🎙

I stick to text content, and I bookmark straight to my blog, with title and URL citations.

This helps me in at least two ways:

I turn something that's mostly consumption into easy/frictionless content production.

And also, it encourages me to immediately assess the information I'm reading instead of lazily taking its correctness for granted.

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@mkbkn 3 days

A great colleague/mentor once told me:

OHIO - Only Handle It Once.

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@cpach 3 days

Poorly.

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@impute 3 days

One thing I'm trying out now is setting a personal 6 month focus area. So everything I read or consume individually (excluding time spent with family and friends) should be related to this area of focus as much as possible. That means either saying no to everything else I come across that's interesting or just putting it on a list for later in case I choose that topic as an area of focus in the future.

I remember visiting the oldest library in California a couple years ago and it was just a small room. At that time, it was conceivable that one could learn all the knowledge available. Now it's just not possible. I think the trick is to figure out up front what you want to focus on and only consume things related to that.

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@_moof 4 days

This is a bit like asking your fellow patrons at the bar how to cure alcoholism, isn’t it mate? ;)

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@PragmaticPulp 4 days

Start with the obvious: Try going cold turkey. It may or may not work, but you won’t know until you try.

Do you have a lot of tabs open right now? Close them all. Can’t because you might miss something you need to do? Write it on your todo list and then close the tab. Tabs and bookmarks aren’t your todo list.

Next, work on identifying your triggers that prompt this craving for new links and new information. Next time it happens, pause and ask yourself why it happened. Were you bored? Frustrated with something? Avoiding another task? Once you start identifying the triggers and circumstances, you can start replacing the autopilot impulse with some deliberate healthy choices.

Which is the final point: Choose an alternate activity to fill those times. It’s not enough to say you’ll stop doing something. You need to identify something else that you’ll start doing in those circumstances. It could be as simple as going to your bookmarks list and reading the first article at the top of the list instead of going to HN for new links. Or maybe it’s getting up and doing 5 minutes of light exercise. You need to have an alternate plan in place to execute when you start identifying your triggers.

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@rattlesnake45 3 days

I just made an email where I send information, ie links of articles I find interesting.

Later on I will look over the titles and the main takeaways from the article.

Basically I just keep the links and if I ever think about the topic I search for it and then read.

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@aristofun 3 days

Just like any addiction its not a cause but symptom.

Find a cause — what are you running from into addiction?

Either it’s some trauma or mental disorders or anything else, your investment in fixing this gets you much much higher returns than any anti-addiction techniques

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@muzani 4 days

Information isn't rare anymore. It's like a bus. If you miss one, another will come.

In my experience, articles or comments are never great pieces of information. The best ones will usually lead you to a book or documentary that they sourced the info from.

Delete the bookmarks, get the book.

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@akshaykumar90 4 days

I was in the same boat till recently. For me, it was Hacker News that felt like this infinite firehose. I felt anxiety if I did not read HN some day—like information was slipping away from me forever.

This is what I did:

- Rely more on my Twitter timeline. I follow <200 people and have my timeline show tweets in chronological order and I am able to "catch-up" once every day. I only check it in the morning.

- Subscribe to some link-aggregator newsletters, like hackernewsletter, that sends a weekly digest of interesting links every Friday.

- But most importantly, just come to terms with information overload that we all are living through right now and it's ok if you miss out sometimes. If it was important, you will come across it later. :)

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@mikewarot 4 days

You're describing a hoarding problem. The fact that it's just bookmark in a folder, instead of a room, full of stuff, that you have to know the "trails" to get through makes it easier to ignore.

You've stored this pile of stuff, how often do you actually go into it and pull out something useful? How does that reward actually balance with the costs of acquisition and storage (in terms of your time and energy).

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@smt88 4 days

This doesn't sound superficially like addiction. It sounds more like a mild anxiety disorder, something in the family of OCD.

You have to start to feel comfortable with the idea that you will miss out on 99.999999% of all the interesting things to know about in this life, much of it useful. You will be wrong and ignorant about some important things, and it will hurt.

All of that is OK, normal, and unavoidable. You just have to get there emotionally.

Cutting yourself off of the information hose shouldn't feel scary or inefficient, it should feel good or at least neutral. Your brain needs time to rest, absorb, and find satisfaction in things outside of learning.

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@dyingkneepad 3 days

Everything is a tradeoff. I guess it helps if you think about the costs of what you're doing. Yes you will get information, but you will still be spending your time on these, and time is a cost. Also, it is evident that people with information addiction (which often means smartphone addiction) have serious problems focusing and lot of other mental issues caused by their behavior. Read about these, try to find out if something is happening to you. If you want some horror stories about the extreme cases, read reddit's r/nosurf.

Perhaps with all the time you spent reading barely-useful news you could have finished that certain book you've been postponing? Maybe you could have worked out more? Maybe you could have practiced that new skill? Maybe stopping doomscrolling will help your concentration?

Think about the tradeoffs you're doing.

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@diplodocusaur 4 days

Deep down, it really is about your own finitude. Fear of death. Not doing enough. Not doing it right. Quest for meaning.

You can explain it away with 'the information age' and try to find a magic bullet organizational system [0] but it is ultimately a human problem.

For a practical person, the best bet is to try to orient reading towards a goal so that you bias the random walk into a desirable direction [1]. Or to simply have fun finding connections [2]. And maybe improve things for others along the way [3].

[0] e.g. 'David Allen - getting things done' [1] visual from 'Richard Hamming - you and your research' [2] 'Isaac Newton - "like a boy playing on the seashore"' [3] poem 'HWL - Psalm of Life'

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@RMPR 17 hours

This past thread[0] might also be useful.

0: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27640587

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@icythere 4 days

I learnt about this (similar) topic about 4 years ago: Rolf Dobelli mentioned something in some section in his book "The Art of Thinking Clearly". It's not about the technology, but the same idea may be applied. Since then I have given up many "good" things.

That's a good book and I think you may learn something from it too.

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@guest159835 4 days

LeechBlock. But router level blocker would be better

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@chrisco255 4 days

Take a long camping trip or hike in the woods, and shut off your phone or leave it altogether. Take a burner feature phone (non-smart phone) if you must, for emergencies. Go for a week, go for as long as you can get away with. Tune it out. Do this regularly. You'll feel better out in nature and the anxiety will subside.

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@exolymph 4 days

> I feel like if I stop, I'd lose out on something that'll be valuable.

Internalize that you're wrong. Most info isn't valuable at all. Regarding that which is, most has already been sifted from the dreck by others. Find a best books list that you vibe with and focus your completionist energy there.

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@greatatuin 4 days

RSS works well for me. Don't subscribe to too much and when you've read it, you're done for the day.

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@vfulco2 3 days

I've accepted the firehose is just too big and let the thought of staying on top of everything go. For example, these days I am intensely studying AWS serverless tools while working away on an MVP. The torrent of news, webinars, AWS hosted reference examples, client highlighted examples, third party consultants and tinkerers contributions is overwhelming. Focus on what value added info is best for you in the intermediate / long term. And don't forget the world's propensity for too much vaporware.

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@joshxyz 4 days

I got rid of my phone. That forces me a time out from all of it.

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@luthfur 3 days

One way to deal with it is by being a producer instead of a consumer. That way you are forced to curate what you consume based on what benefits your "production".

For me that has been to start a blog, build an app etc.

Another approach is to go deep instead of wide. By that I mean, as you read, capture and take notes, start spending more time with your notes instead of capturing more.

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@blocked_again 3 days


@grillvogel 4 days

just remember that:

>In the current, digitized world, trivial information is accumulating every second,preserved in all its triteness. Never fading, always accessible. Rumors about petty issues,misinterpretations, slander. All this junk data preserved in an unfiltered state, growing at an alarming rate

http://junkerhq.net/MGS2/Text.html

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@ve55 4 days

My partial solution to this was just learning to say 'no' to large amounts of categories of information. It sucks and I'm still discontent with it, but I cannot be an expert in everything, and the amount of time and bandwidth I have is severely limited.

I took some time going over my interests and decided which were more valuable to me than others, and then started cutting down on some of the ones that ended up lower on the list. While this may be a practical solution, I am still left pretty discontent with it, because the amount of things I am 'missing out on' is still unfathomably large. Improving the emotional and personal aspects of dealing with this is something that is harder to help with (and likely differs quite a bit between individuals), but I would hope that improving the current state of things is at least a fruitful starting point.

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@zorrolovsky 4 days

The trick that worked for me is to be absolutely ruthless.

I don't allow myself to bookmark "read later" pages again. I have to options: either I read the page here and now, devoting my full focus and attention, or it's gone forever.

I suggest you read about the power of focus, and also work on the damage that the fear of missing out is causing you. Yes, there are millions of interesting topics and insights out there, but you can only read one at the time. So ask yourself: "if I had to learn about one topic today (or this week), what would that be?". There is no later, there is no tomorrow... it's either now or never!

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