Thumbtacks

In the book Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk, one of the characters is a deranged mother who tires of the fact that her family just wolfs down the food she makes without stopping to appreciate it. Her solution is to start putting thumbtacks into the food. That way, they have to eat very slowly and carefully in order to avoid accidentally biting down on or swallowing one, and as a side effect, they really linger on each bite.

Our echo chambers are a lot like the food we wolf down. When we fill our information feeds with sources we tend to agree with, we stop considering the individual bites of information. Everything just gets absorbed as part of a tapestry, each piece becoming supporting evidence for all the others by simple virtue of repetition. We never even notice if something should be triggering alarm bells for our critical thinking mechanisms, because those mechanisms have been shut off – we’ve trained our brains to think “all of this is safe and accurate” so we just pour it in.

So, throw in a few thumbtacks. Follow some accounts and sources that you totally disagree with. Let them disrupt the flow. When you hit those bites in your news feed, you’ll be forced to stop and chew. Carefully. And that will throw the endless conveyor belt into disarray, and you’ll be forced to chew every bite.

Growth comes from discomfort, and never forget it.

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