In the know

Ryan Stephens, a long time reader and friend of this blog, shared 48 of his favorite quotes from 2017 recently.

A quote that stuck out to me was from Dave Pell – “The notion that you need to know about world events right when they happen is a marketing creation of media brands.”

The first order consequence of the quote is to cut down on the amount of news we take in. I’ve been streamlining this over time. But, I’ve got more to go.

But, there’s a second order implication. I’d consider editing that line further to say – The notion that you need to know about world events right when they happen is a marketing creation of media brands.”

We live at a time when we are more exposed to events about or from people we know than at any time in human history. In a small percentage of these cases, this exposure is helpful. That happens when we learn something that furthers our growth or when we learn something important about someone we do business with that helps build rapport. Most of the rest of the exposure benefits media companies and advertisers more than it benefits us.

I work on ads on the LinkedIn feed. So, as a participant on the media company side of the table, I have both a strong interest in this topic and a (somewhat controversial?) point of view. My learning is that feeds are not benevolent – they are the equivalent of the house in a casino. Casinos can be great places to visit for a while. They’re fun if you go with friends. And, if you’re a fan of a game like poker which offers wonderful lessons in decision making, they can be a source of learning too.

But, the house always wins. So, it is important to be clear about what you’re trying to achieve and get out once you’ve achieved it.

Analogy aside, the TLDR version of this is the same as what lies at the heart of Dave Pell’s note – being “in the know” is overrated.