Aid your awareness with curated consumption habits
Current state of information consumption
Social media has become the common source of news and updates in recent times. This information is not only limited politics and current events, but also a lot of other topics you could be interested in, for example, fashion, technology, books, or even cats.
While social media trends and topics give a good idea of what people are talking about, and are definitely a source of information, depending completely on social media for news in dangerous. Danger is even higher if that social media source is WhatsApp.
It's common knowledge that all the popular platforms which serve you content - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc - do that on the basis on complex algorithms. These algorithms are made to target your engagement and will serve content that you're likely to engage with.
There's already a lot that's been researched and written about this algorithmic way of information consumption. A great experiment which was done by the Wall Street Journal in form of a news app explained it much better.
Of course after knowing and reading all this, it is very easy to blame the platforms and their practices. There can be a lot debated about how the platforms have a responsibility to be clear up this mess and how much of a risk it is to the humanity. The Cambridge Analytica scandal thing has also put light to this.
At the end of the day, the platforms are for-profit entities. Mentioning this doesn't absolve them from any of the consequences that have been a result of their work at all. However, expecting them to change completely is also a distant dream. Well, at this point, I doubt how much of it is even possible for the platforms to fix what they've got everyone into. A good explainer is from this 2017 Buzzfeed article on how the algorithms controlling these platforms are kind of working all by themselves at this point.
Your information is your responsibility
A worth listening podcast episode linked below talks about an important point where you need to understand that getting relevant, and correct information, is your responsibility now. You can go and consume your news from wherever, but the liability of what you choose to believe is your own.
Haters gonna hate. Fakers gonna fake. Algorithms gonna algorith-mate.
When it comes to the political scenario, finding the right sources becomes tougher and tougher. A very good chart on how the media works is explained by Wait But Why in this post.
I quote this image reference out of a huge stock of information which needs lot of context. So, to completely understand the entire premise for this image, I'd suggest going through the entire Story of Us series here.
Apart from the political and current events-based information, there's also a good reason to follow updates and happenings on lot of other fronts. Any person definitely has their own interests and would be interested in knowing more, and better about them as well. These might range from something which could help your professionally, or just as an entertainment value.
How am I trying to do it?
How much ever you try, there's no way of running away from the algorithms. So, even though this task is easier said than done, I believe it is a process to find, research, and build trust over time for the resources you choose to follow.
One of my recent experiments has been to try and use Feedly. Creating a space which you can curate and follow easily has helped in keeping track of more relevant information at single space.
Of course when you'd be trying to build your space, and trusted resources to follow, it'd be influenced by your own biases. However, it is still a space which is less community-algorithm dependent like other social platforms.
In the Feedly example here, there is obviously some AI which surfaces you the information in a certain way, so it's not completely solving the issue. Although, it's something that's been helping me to keep track of more than just trends, and general noise, as of now. Maybe I'd switch and experiment with something else some other time, but this is what I'm sticking around with for a while at least.
Too much effort?
Yes, and that's the point of it. You need to find the resources of your liking, and then engage with them. Having an invisible algorithm taking up your attention is easier, but with the right effort it will be beneficial in the long run in my opinion.
While you're at it
Another way to follow your interests would be to subscribe to information lists and broadcast channels. Telegram gives a good option to create and follow channels which would share your interests.
While curating my feed, I have recently started this broadcast list where I share some tidbits and information about stuff to read, or watch. I am interested in digital products, UX, and stuff in those lines, so I am using this space to share my findings.
Do subscribe to the channel if that's something which could interest you as well. It's free of charge of course.
Algorithms rule the major platforms which can be used to accessed information.
It's difficult to form your opinion and find unbiased sources if you depend on the social platforms to consume information.
Research and make use of tools to form your own information gathering spaces.
Putting in this task is the need of the hour as the responsibility of consuming useful information lies with the audience rather than the platforms.
Subscribe to my Telegram channel to find stuff that might interest you.