Every year, I look forward to seeing the graphic of what happens in an ‘internet minute’. It’s not perfect, but it gives us an idea. For instance, in 2019,
- 4.5 million videos were viewed on YouTube
- 3.8 million search queries were made on Google
- 41.6 million messages were sent on Facebook
Yes. All that in one minute.
With the internet and social media coursing through the information highway, data is available aplenty. Wisdom, unfortunately, is in short supply.
My colleague NS Rammath tweeted last week:
I have no idea how we got here, but we seem to have gotten to a place where one man's obvious fake news is another man's incontrovertible fact.— Ramnath (@rmnth) December 17, 2019
It's one thing to disagree on opinions but quite another to disagree on facts.
Getting facts right is a problem that pervades society. With the power of amplification that rests with social media, alternative truths jostle with truth and often overshadow truth. In 2016, Oxford Dictionaries selected post-truth as the word of the year. It defined post-truth as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”.
We have come a long way since 2016. Down the wrong road, that is! From being ‘word of the year’ it has come to reshape our world and centuries of existence.
It’s time to sit up and take notice. For it affects us all. It affects how we think, live with each other and of course, what we end up doing.
So, what can we do?
For one, awareness is useful. Are you faced with content that evokes a strong emotional reaction? Perhaps one that is ridiculous or perfectly confirms your beliefs? Does it get you to want to forward it to other ‘like-minded’ folks? Pause. Ponder. And go deeper.
Seeking the truth has never been easy. More so, now. It requires assiduous effort—looking for different sources of information, talking to people, soaking inputs from various people. Passive consumption of whatever emerges on the screen gets us strapped to a rocket that will lift off to hate land.
Conversations with a diverse set of people are critical.
At Founding Fuel our focus has been on threading out the voice from the noise. Helping organisations and individuals make sense of the changes outside and appropriately bring about changes within. The Founding Fuel Masterclasses are precisely that. Crafted conversations with a curated set of experts and audiences, designed to spur reflection. This week, the conversation was on the Personal Data Protection Bill, and it was more than revealing. My insights came as much from the participants and their commentary, as from the panellists. (We will publish a recording of the Masterclass in a few days.) Let us know if you want to be part of this learning community.
Curated online conversations work well, going from the interest and response. Truth be told, we are weren’t fully ready for the degree of interest and are getting better at hosting it. The need to distil and get to the bottom of the truth, we realise, is being felt by several of us.
One other old-fashioned way of getting better with perspectives is to read books. To me, there is just no substitute. To make things easy for us, D Shivakumar, a voracious reader, compiled a list of the best business books of 2019. What do you think? If you have a book to suggest, let us know.
The year is ending. But it’s not over until it’s over. Go do something that has been on your list for a while. Perhaps make plans for the New Year. Reflect. Shoot the breeze. If you want to shoot this or any other idea down, without much consideration, start reading all over again.
By the way, before we get further distracted by the search for the truth, did you have a chance to watch the Masterclass with Nir Eyal on strategies to get traction?
(Video) Why do we get distracted and what can we do about it? A learning session on how to get your jobs done and lead a life that’s true to your values. (Play Time: 61 mins)
What Uber, Netflix and Walt Disney Company show us about thriving in a tech world; leadership skills for sustainable success; and how human behaviour shapes decisions. (By D Shivakumar. Read Time: 4 mins)
What We Are Reading
The internet is full of grifters, tricksters, and outright liars who rely on people’s basic trust to amplify their message. It’s worth slowing down and carefully navigating their traps.
From Our Archives
Life and business are built upon unjustly distributed advantages, and there's no reason to disdain only a few of them. (By Gourav Jaswal)
The pleasure centres that tickle internet junkies and drug addicts are the same—we know this because of recent advances in the neurosciences. (By Charles Assisi)