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We are all conditioned more or less by the modern world to think fast and act faster: The most cost-effective way to ace a closed-book exam is to cram all information into your short-term memory just a few days prior; The most time-efficient way to entertain yourself is to scroll through social media and see whatever catches your eyes in the split second.
Who would want to spend weeks reading an old, chunky book, who would want to read that long article except for its title? (which I don’t blame you, low-quality articles seem endless nowadays, isn’t it?) Our brain is thus constantly overloaded with tiny snippets of catchy information floating around trying to seek our attention. In the old days, we call such information – noise, such attention – distraction. Given that we have a limited amount of mental energy to spend every day, it is probably not a good idea to spend too much of it on noise and distraction.
Being overloaded also means we become like a black hole of information, like a one-way road to the abyss. Only occasionally do we “burp” to let out our stress from overloading, just as real black holes do, as we write short catchy comments, troll and rant anonymously on the Internet. Let’s be honest, rarely anything meaningful comes out of that except for some sporadic dopamine and adrenaline spikes. Sure we can get by with these passive action-reactions when we are young, so long as we have something to talk to not feel like an anti-social. But some years later, we would all feel that urge to seek deeper truth, deeper meaning. And that can only come from a slow form of learning, synthesis, and creative work. Time to make better choices out of this ocean of noise.
Reading slowly allows time for ourselves to digest, contemplate and self-reflect — true learning comes from yourself, not from passively drowning in information. Writing is an even bigger game changer. It is an even slower process, where you have to recall what you have learnt, create a draft of ideas, connect the dots, finish the strokes, review it and then rewrite it again and again. It is a deep mental exercise that not only engages your surface intuition, there is a high chance you could end up understanding yourself and others better, not just the subject matter of your writing. It is in my opinion the single most important habit to prevent mind-body dissonance. So, instead of being tired from skimming through regurgitated and repackaged noise over and over again, try to read, think and write something at your own comfortable pace. Similarly, a couple of hours of debate with in-depth arguments trumps yelling at random Joes over the Internet with short, insulting comments for eternity.
When you read my blog, remember that you are not doing an assignment, you are doing it to find deep insights and meanings, and you don’t have to check off a “to-do list” as quickly as possible. A slow reader is like a hiker without the hurry to hike up to the summit in 2 hours, and instead take the time and stop to immerse in the beauty of the surroundings. Just as we should read slow, dive into our thoughts and write things down when we learn something new. Enjoy!