I am not sure exactly what Adam Grant, organizational psychologist, writer and speaker had in mind when he posted this tweet on January 30th, 2019, but personally, his tweet made me think of President Donald Trump.
Though I never formally followed President Trump’s Twitter feed, I did check it often. Chalk it up to a sense of civic responsibility, or maybe just an honest to goodness (morbid?) curiosity. Either way, I felt it was important stay current with what the president was tweeting about. Rarely did I feel good after reading his tweets. Rather than sharing information about important civic projects, or inspiring calls to action to help our fellow Americans, President Trump often tweets antagonistic posts that are usually filled with hate, anger and misinformation. I would read his tweets, shake my head in disbelief, and move on.
Grant’s tweet, on the other hand, I did find inspirational. I chose to follow Grant’s advice, and I adjusted the volume. In my own personal way, I silenced the bully. There was a voice that bothered me, that made me unhappy, and that did not help me at all. Rather than lifting that bothersome voice up by retweeting the offensive posts while expressing my disagreement and dismay, I stopped listening. I simply adjusted the volume.
Certainly the President of the United States is not easy to avoid, and I still saw him on the television and read about him in the news. But simply deciding to longer read his tweets made a significant difference in my life. I found myself thinking less about hate. It felt like I put myself in control. Like Grant said his tweet, “choosing not to respond neutralizes power.” Did I neutralize the power and impact of President Trump’s words? Probably not very much at all for the entire world, but in a significant way for myself.
We all have the power to adjust the volume. What is bothering you? What do you hear too much of? From a technological perspective, you probably find yourself inundated with pings, beeps and dings from various software platforms on various devices. At any given moment in time, you may very well be getting different notifications on different devices from different software. You may feel helpless, but you are not. Just turn down the volume.
- Turn down the notifications. In just a few moments, you can go to every device you use, and in the control panel easily determine which alerts you want to get and which you don’t. You can find relief from email, Facebook, Twitter and text notifications. You are already in control. Put that control to good use.
- Turn down the negativity. On one hand, I believe we all have a responsibility to stay aware of current events, and to stay connected to the news and news makers of the day. However, if there is a voice and presence that makes you unhappy, there is no need to inundate yourself on a regular basis with that very thing that makes you unhappy.
- Turn down the content.There is a lot of information and content in the world. In fact, some statistics show that over 90% of the data in the history of the world has been created in just the last two years (and that was published in 2018). I give you permission to not read it all. Don’t feel like you should. You can’t, so read what interests you. Read what helps you. Read what you feel makes you a better person…a better friend. A better family member. A better professional. Read what makes you happy.
Not everything though needs to be turned down. Some things need to be turned up. They should be turned up!
- Get only the notifications you care about. You can spend less time dealing with the things you don’t care about, and more time dealing with the things you do care about by adjusting the volume. Set Google news alerts for those things that ignite your passion and interest. Follow the people you care about, and forget the people you don’t care about. This is your time, and your valuable attention span. Use it wisely.
- Play social network favorites. You may prefer Twitter to Facebook, if so, turn on the Twitter notifications and turn off Facebook. Why are you wasting your time on a platform you don’t use?
- Pick your content source. Not all content creators are created equally, and you are going to prefer some over the others. You may like Buzzfeed, or you may detest their lists and outline approach to serious news. You may not like the Wall Street Journal, and prefer to get your news quicker and easier to digest. Don’t be shy. Like what you like. Read what you read. Forget the rest.
Look around any public area. What are people doing as they wait to board their plane at the airport? As they wait for a friend in the park on a beautiful summer day? They are looking at their phone. It should come as no surprise. Almost the entire wealth of human knowledge and history is in the palm of our hand, and it is too much. We can’t read it all, and we certainly can’t act on it all or respond to it all. So just adjust the volume. You are in control.