White Brain Cells

White blood cells are a critical part of your immune system. They keep you healthy by attacking bad things that get into your body.

Oh, how nice it would be to have white brain cells! Keeping you safe by attacking bad things that get into your mind!

Of course, I don’t mean “bad ideas.” I think bad ideas are healthy, important, and even necessary. I think constantly encountering bad ideas trains us to be critical, dispassionate, and intelligent. I wouldn’t want them removed any more than I’d want to wrap my kids in bubble-wrap to keep them safe; that kind of safety is the most dangerous kind.

But I do mean noise. Things that just draw you in for no reason other than the fact that your very attention has become a form of currency. Outrage machines or drool-inducing flashing lights. These things are everywhere because they work, but fear not! White brain cells might not truly exist, but you can create something similar.

The first thing you have to realize is that you need to be aggressive in your resistance to these things. You need to do more than just “ignore and move on” in some cases. You need to prune and cultivate. Every platform you ever navigate online has robust options for controlling what you see, but most people never bother to learn them. But if something is just making noise for the sake of noise, block it out! Remove the source. Click the “block” button, adjust the settings. Get rid of the source. Because if you don’t, the very fact that you didn’t tells the algorithm that you looooooove that stuff and want more of it!

It’s not just bots and ads, either. Some people, nice though they might be, just seem to exist online solely to relentlessly share that same mindless garbage. I won’t begrudge someone else for what they want to watch (or even share!), but that doesn’t mean I have to subject myself to the same toxins. “Unfollow,” thanks muchly.

This even extends to the offline world. There was a convenience store that I used to frequent, but they installed this device that made it so that every time you opened their cooler door, a loud voice would scream ads at you for other products. As soon as they installed this device, I never shopped there again.

My life is better for it. A robust mental immune system helps filter out germs and leaves my brain able to contend with the higher parts of the world – good and bad ideas alike. But no noise!

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