Last month, I elaborated a little upon the low coronavirus news information that I have been on since approximately one month after the pandemic’s emergence onto global consciousness.
Could Embracing A Long Term Pandemic Mindset Be A ‘Superpower’?
For those unaware, I have been on what I term a “low COVID information diet” since approximately February/March.
I can go even shorter with the TL:DR of that post:
- I’m trying to avoid all non-actionable information about the coronavirus
- The vast majority of information most of us are currently inundated with about the coronavirus is not actionable
- I believe that hyper-information, misinformation, and disinformation about the progress and likely end of the pandemic together represent a harmful assault on our mental health(the last likely a very small fraction of the overall information about the pandemic and disseminated, if at all, mostly by state actors). This is significant because our mental health is already challenged during this period by threats such as unemployment and, of course, the continuance of the pandemic itself
Since its beginning, I have been searching, without noteworthy success, for some global news source that conveys only the most essential of essential updates about the pandemic.
I would sub-categorize the type of updates I am seeking into news items of global and local significance — so likely I would need a combination of two sources for this to work out as I would like.
The litmus test to distinguish between these and non-essential news items could be: if I miss this update might I be fined for non-compliance with a newly instituted or revised regulation which I didn’t knew existed (essential local updates)? Could I be stuck at home needlessly while the pandemic carries on because I didn’t know it was over (global updates)?
Of course, unless you’re a Siberian hermit, we’re really talking in hypothetical terms here. More than likely the postman or the clerk at the post office is going to ask if you heard about X. But it’s a useful frame of reference through which to describe what I’m envisioning.
So far, I have found neither a good local nor regional source.
For local updates, many in Israel recommend the Ministry of Health’s official Telegram group. However, it has over 1,000 updates since I last checked it. This tells me that its signal:noise ratio is likely very low — at least for the specific locality within Israel for which I require updates (Jerusalem).
Internationally, I also haven’t found a news source with curating essential only updates as its mission statement either. So until and whether I have time to start an initiative like this myself, I am left trying to think about alternatives.
Idea One: The Buddy Information System
As it seems to be really hard to find news sources that shy away entirely from sensationalism, speculation, and even misinformation, I think that a syndicated information sharing model might prove a better means of staying low information enough to stay sane … but know enough to stay compliant with sometimes rapidly changing regulations or developments in any particular locality
The model simply involves two individuals who share a common desire to minimize their consumption of information about the coronavirus pairing up to share information.
I imagine this working best if two individuals in different countries pair up. Ideally, neither should have any sense of allegiance to the other country — including even having visited the other country as a child and therefore perhaps having a vague sense of residual goodwill towards it. This is in order to minimize the sense of emotional attachment that either party needs to deal with (because avoiding that is one of the benefits of this proposed model): both parties are finding out information about a country which they really couldn’t care less about.
The system, as I conceived it today, would work something like this:
On month one Daniel in Jerusalem keeps track of general information about the pandemic for his penpal Pedro in Spain. Perhaps Daniel is tapped into a limited information news source such as the one described above. So if anything truly groundbreaking occurs — a vaccine is being rolled out globally! — he can tell his friend about it. Alternatively, he just scans the news every fortnight and if there’s nothing to relay he keeps silent.
How Daniel and Pedro exchange information is totally unimportant: it could be over a Zoom call, by email, by WhatsApp, or by Telegram. Daniel also periodically checks up on significant developments in Spain and Barcelona. Because Daniel doesn’t speak Spanish and isn’t likely privvy to insider information sources he’s likely just picking up major news reported on internationally. If something makes it through Daniel’s filter about Spain when he conducts his weekly search, then it’s probably quite significant. If Daniel sees that it specifically affects Barcelona, then he will see if it’s something that Pedro needs to know about in order to stay safe and on the right side of his local authorities’ regulations.
On month two (or quarter two) Daniel and Pedro reverse rolls.
Now, for a month, Daniel gets to completely forget about the pandemic at all which is a delightful luxury of sorts.
Practically speaking, he’s relying upon information from his friend Pedro — although of course if any truly urgent information is going to be needed Daniel knows that the authorities will probably try to reach him by email / SMS / phone call / physically appearing at his front door.
The arrangement can continue until the pandemic is effectively brought under control.
The net positive results are that:
- Both parties are only searching for essential information about the pandemic half of the time
- Both parties circumvent a lot of speculative coverage by not checking news about their locality
- Both parties effectively displace the emotional attachment they likely feel to the progress of the pandemic in their own countries by “farming out” that task to another person
This idea is purely just that — an idea — but feel free to adopt it or suggest a better alternative.
I believe that most of us could use receiving less but more pertinent information about the pandemic.