Choosing one’s battles

The phase ‘choose your battles’ had come to mind of late. There is a general issue in life, as in RPGs, of choosing whether to find a niche, a speciality, or a very specific interest and pursue it to one’s heart’s content. Contrast this, to doing things in either a haphazard, spurious or balanced way. People often talk of balancing work with life; hobbies with families; or how to dedicate one’s free time.

Considering the whole spectrum of political causes, we may think of many as noble, but we cannot subscribe to or help them all. Trying to get everything done usually ends up getting very little done. To this end, I have considered limiting the kinds of news that I follow or the interests that I may otherwise subscribe to.

Scholars in a particular area of their interest may know of all or most of the important and unimportant researchers in their field, while the lay person may know particular individuals or theories, concepts, definitions or tidbits without context. It is expertise that govern’s the quality of dissemination, and furthering of scholarship or any enterprise.

Analogously, in RPG terms. Melee weapon specialists are rarely magic users; Magicians can’t use all classes of magic on pain of having very few low-level spells without having the real heavy-hitting spells, and healing classes must always make a compromise on their personal safety by dedicating points to their healing powers instead of wearing the most protective clothing or attack capacities. Of course, hybrids happen if the right mix occurs, but compromise is always a must.

About a year and a half ago I had started using Google reader and google calendar. I’ve been considering the amount of time I spend going through all the news and decided to have a purge of certain RSS feeds in the spirit of ‘choosing one’s battles’. Some news I get repeatedly sent to me, so I decided to choose only the cream of the crop blogs in some subjects (feminist blogs, for instance). Some blogs post too many posts in a day without many of them being worth reading. I decide to purge them too, although sometimes a blog might redeem itself with an interesting or worthwhile blog post.

Some hard decisions I am yet to make. I am getting too many ‘news’ stories. I subscribe to the Guardian, the Times, Salon, and the Telegraph. I was once on the New Yorker but I found their liberal sentiment far too bourgeois to the point of being self-indulgent. I’m increasingly finding that the guardian posts many stories although many are worthwhile, however, with the telegraph, a possible weak link; I consider their stories to have some poor basis in fact, and often are very populist, human interest focused and too centrist.

Contrary to the insight concerning the Independent, I find myself often tempted to subscribe to RSS feeds of the Daily Mail. I find some of their stories almost pornographic (metaphorically) in that the headline almost begs you to stare and read about the misfortunes and absurd kinds of situations that people get in. I suppose it is what my driving instructor called ‘rubbernecking’.

A good RSS feed is something that has something to offer; podcasts that I often listen to, stories worth reading, authors and journalists who are well-informed. I can be often put off causes or products or websites if they say too much without having much substance. A case in point is Stephen Fry’s twitter page: sometimes posts are interesting about his various travels and celebrity lunch companions; but his morning coffee or driving in a black cab are not worthy things of being informed about, conversely, his blog posts are very rare, but are always good to read.

Concluding, the idea of choosing one’s battles is one way to navigate, after being somewhat experienced in the world, as trying to get news and yet maintain a fruitful interest. It is by the very nature of the enterprise, a notion of limiting information that comes in, but to the benefit (hopefully) of not being wedded to the computer; which these cumbersome several hundred daily posts can do to me.

Along with social networking friends, having a clearout of GReader feeds is a way of establishing a positive and fluid relationship with the internet, one’s computer and contributes towards a controlled and organised sensory input from the outside world. Now if only I could do the same with youtube videos and my music listening schedule.

Michael

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2 thoughts on “Choosing one’s battles

  1. I too recently purged a few blogs from my reader… One because he wouldn’t engage me in discussion, one because she attacked a moderate Christian for not toeing the radical feminist line which sickened me.

    I would have liked to cut more, but I found it hard to let things go… Fortunately, many of my subscribed blogs are extremely low volume. 🙂

    Best wishes!

    • I only managed to see this post because I just finished another one.

      I’ll reply immediately so as to keep you subscribed!

      I’ve observed in intellectual blogs that I’ve become tired of the ‘staleness’ of what they are arguing for. I’m two bad posts away from unsubscribing from Sam Harris (his international reputation is the only thing saving him at the moment).

      I think that low volume blogs are good to keep on to, they are less annoying and I make a point of not unsubcribing to people just because I disagree. They have to really do something horrible to merit me walking away from them.

      I’m always pleased that I have at least one very vocal reader of this blog!

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