Does life feel too short? Get off your ass.
In 1654, Blaise Pascal wrote: "All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone." That's more true today than ever.
ERLING KAGGE: I think the origin of all the problems we have in life is that we cannot sit alone in a room doing nothing. And I didn't come up with this theory. This was Blaise Pascal who wrote about it in the 1640s.
Here in the States, people, on average, they watch the telephone four hours every day, which means in the States, you probably live at around 30,000 days in your life which means that you sit watching a telephone 120,000 hours. And let's say only 80% of it is wasted, which leaves you with 96,000 hours you're actually doing mostly bullshit with your time. And then life will feel really short, because in life you need variety, you need novelty, but when you keep on doing the same thing throughout the whole day throughout your whole life, the conclusion of your life will be that it has been really short and very boring.
To me, wandering is the engine of life. And I walked really long distances. It took me actually almost 40 years before I learned the pleasure of walking short distances. But I walked, for instance, to the North Pole, with my friend, Borge Ousland, all the way to the top of Earth. And then I also walked to Mount Everest Base Camp, and eventually climbed all the way to the top of the mountain. And thirdly, I walked all the way to the South Pole in total solitude, as the first in history. I didn't have any radio contact. I didn't talk to anyone on my trek. I was absolutely left to myself. For the first couple of hours, maybe for a day or two, you have all this noise in your head. Although it's absolutely quiet around you, you're thinking. And you think about the past. You think about the future. And all this, you know, it's like noise. But then time passes by, and you slowly start not to think so much. You start much more to experience, to feel being present in the moment. And that's when it's really great to be on an expedition that somehow, the future doesn't matter. The past doesn't matter. All that matters is to be present in your own life.
I've traveled to more than 100 countries in the world and met many people in each place I have been. And my impression is that most people underestimate their own possibilities in life. Obviously, some people are overestimating their possibilities, but in general, people are underestimating their own possibilities. And things that some people tell me: 'I don't have time for silence. I'm too busy. I'm too important. It's not for me.' I don't believe it. I think they all have time for some silence. But the reason we try to avoid silence is because silence can be a bit frightening and it can be a bit uncomfortable, because silence is about getting to know ourselves, while noise, not only sounds, but all kinds of distractions and expectations and beeping and buzzing from your phone, it's about running away from yourself. It's about forgetting yourself. It's about living through other people. It's about living through apps. And consequently, not fully, but partly, it is about wasting your life. It's about missing out on this huge opportunity to live a richer life.
The first story I love about walking is the story when Adam and Eve actually walked out of paradise. And I really love that story because they left paradise and became history's first true explorers. They wanted to eat from the tree of knowledge, and as soon as they did, they just walked out. And that's what we have been doing ever since. And that's what makes life beautiful. Humans have always explored a world in a physical sense. We have been walking, we have been touching, we have been smelling, we have been seeing, we've been freezing, we have been sweating, we have been tired, we have been relieved throughout life while we have been walking. While today, for the first time in history of man, it's almost all about sitting on our asses, watching down into a screen just in front of us. And this whole idea that you can actually experience the world, get to know people, respect humanity, try to understand what's going on on the earth by looking into a screen is a huge mistake. So in that sense, we should learn from Adam and Eve. We need to just walk off into the world and try to understand and see and feel what's going on.
- Explorer Erling Kagge is the first person to have completed the Three Poles Challenge on foot: the North Pole, the South Pole, and the summit of Mount Everest.
- The average American spends 4 hours each day on their phone. Imagine that 20% of it is productive. That still means that at the end of your life you'll have spent a cumulative 4,000 days on what Kagge calls "bullshit".
- Walking is the engine of life – you can do it alone, learning to cultivate your thoughts; you can walk to meet people and learn to respect humanity; and you can walk to experience nature. Don't live through other people or through apps. Get out and explore.
- Push Past Negative Self-Talk: Give Yourself the Proper Fuel to Attack the World, with David Goggins, Former NAVY SealIf you've ever spent 5 minutes trying to meditate, you know something most people don't realize: that our minds are filled, much of the time, with negative nonsense. Messaging from TV, from the news, from advertising, and from difficult daily interactions pulls us mentally in every direction, insisting that we focus on or worry about this or that. To start from a place of strength and stability, you need to quiet your mind and gain control. For former NAVY Seal David Goggins, this begins with recognizing all the negative self-messaging and committing to quieting the mind. It continues with replacing the negative thoughts with positive ones.
Is this proof of a dramatic shift?
- Map details dramatic shift from CNN to Fox News over 10-year period
- Does it show the triumph of "fake news" — or, rather, its defeat?
- A closer look at the map's legend allows for more complex analyses
Dramatic and misleading
Image: Reddit / SICResearch
The situation today: CNN pushed back to the edges of the country.
Over the course of no more than a decade, America has radically switched favorites when it comes to cable news networks. As this sequence of maps showing TMAs (Television Market Areas) suggests, CNN is out, Fox News is in.
The maps are certainly dramatic, but also a bit misleading. They nevertheless provide some insight into the state of journalism and the public's attitudes toward the press in the US.
Let's zoom in:
- It's 2008, on the eve of the Obama Era. CNN (blue) dominates the cable news landscape across America. Fox News (red) is an upstart (°1996) with a few regional bastions in the South.
- By 2010, Fox News has broken out of its southern heartland, colonizing markets in the Midwest and the Northwest — and even northern Maine and southern Alaska.
- Two years later, Fox News has lost those two outliers, but has filled up in the middle: it now boasts two large, contiguous blocks in the southeast and northwest, almost touching.
- In 2014, Fox News seems past its prime. The northwestern block has shrunk, the southeastern one has fragmented.
- Energised by Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, Fox News is back with a vengeance. Not only have Maine and Alaska gone from entirely blue to entirely red, so has most of the rest of the U.S. Fox News has plugged the Nebraska Gap: it's no longer possible to walk from coast to coast across CNN territory.
- By 2018, the fortunes from a decade earlier have almost reversed. Fox News rules the roost. CNN clings on to the Pacific Coast, New Mexico, Minnesota and parts of the Northeast — plus a smattering of metropolitan areas in the South and Midwest.
Image source: Reddit / SICResearch
This sequence of maps, showing America turning from blue to red, elicited strong reactions on the Reddit forum where it was published last week. For some, the takeover by Fox News illustrates the demise of all that's good and fair about news journalism. Among the comments?
- "The end is near."
- "The idiocracy grows."
- "(It's) like a spreading disease."
- "One of the more frightening maps I've seen."
- "LOL that's what happens when you're fake news!"
- "CNN went down the toilet on quality."
- "A Minecraft YouTuber could beat CNN's numbers."
- "CNN has become more like a high-school production of a news show."
Not a few find fault with both channels, even if not always to the same degree:
- "That anybody considers either of those networks good news sources is troubling."
- "Both leave you understanding less rather than more."
- "This is what happens when you spout bullsh-- for two years straight. People find an alternative — even if it's just different bullsh--."
- "CNN is sh-- but it's nowhere close to the outright bullsh-- and baseless propaganda Fox News spews."
"Old people learning to Google"
Image: Google Trends
CNN vs. Fox News search terms (200!-2018)
But what do the maps actually show? Created by SICResearch, they do show a huge evolution, but not of both cable news networks' audience size (i.e. Nielsen ratings). The dramatic shift is one in Google search trends. In other words, it shows how often people type in "CNN" or "Fox News" when surfing the web. And that does not necessarily reflect the relative popularity of both networks. As some commenters suggest:
- "I can't remember the last time that I've searched for a news channel on Google. Is it really that difficult for people to type 'cnn.com'?"
- "More than anything else, these maps show smart phone proliferation (among older people) more than anything else."
- "This is a map of how old people and rural areas have learned to use Google in the last decade."
- "This is basically a map of people who don't understand how the internet works, and it's no surprise that it leans conservative."
A visual image as strong as this map sequence looks designed to elicit a vehement response — and its lack of context offers viewers little new information to challenge their preconceptions. Like the news itself, cartography pretends to be objective, but always has an agenda of its own, even if just by the selection of its topics.
The trick is not to despair of maps (or news) but to get a good sense of the parameters that are in play. And, as is often the case (with both maps and news), what's left out is at least as significant as what's actually shown.
One important point: while Fox News is the sole major purveyor of news and opinion with a conservative/right-wing slant, CNN has more competition in the center/left part of the spectrum, notably from MSNBC.
Another: the average age of cable news viewers — whether they watch CNN or Fox News — is in the mid-60s. As a result of a shift in generational habits, TV viewing is down across the board. Younger people are more comfortable with a "cafeteria" approach to their news menu, selecting alternative and online sources for their information.
It should also be noted, however, that Fox News, according to Harvard's Nieman Lab, dominates Facebook when it comes to engagement among news outlets.
CNN, Fox and MSNBC
Image: Google Trends
CNN vs. Fox (without the 'News'; may include searches for actual foxes). See MSNBC (in yellow) for comparison
For the record, here are the Nielsen ratings for average daily viewer total for the three main cable news networks, for 2018 (compared to 2017):
- Fox News: 1,425,000 (-5%)
- MSNBC: 994,000 (+12%)
- CNN: 706,000 (-9%)
And according to this recent overview, the top 50 of the most popular websites in the U.S. includes cnn.com in 28th place, and foxnews.com in... 27th place.The top 5, in descending order, consists of google.com, youtube.com, facebook.com, amazon.com and yahoo.com — the latter being the highest-placed website in the News and Media category.
- Master Execution: How to Get from Point A to Point B in 7 Steps, with Rob Roy, Retired Navy SEALUsing the principles of SEAL training to forge better bosses, former Navy SEAL and founder of the Leadership Under Fire series Rob Roy, a self-described "Hammer", makes people's lives miserable in the hopes of teaching them how to be a tougher—and better—manager. "We offer something that you are not going to get from reading a book," says Roy. "Real leaders inspire, guide and give hope."Anybody can make a decision when everything is in their favor, but what happens in turbulent times? Roy teaches leaders, through intense experiences, that they can walk into any situation and come out ahead. In this lesson, he outlines seven SEAL-tested steps for executing any plan—even under extreme conditions or crisis situations.
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