How to Stop Narcotizing Dysfunction

Last week's post was pretty darn depressing wasn't it? Well, at least it depressed me. I can't stand the idea that I might be narcotizing myself, and I certainly don't want to fool myself into thinking I'm being "part of the solution" or "becoming informed" when really I'm just lulling myself (and worse, those around me) into inaction and complacency.

The only course of action is to take action--and so today's post is an attempt to offer solutions that readers (and I) can use to avoid, subvert and beat the problem of narcotizing dysfunction.

Four things:

1) Eliminate the narcotic. What I mean by this, obviously, is stop consuming media. And for good measure, stop all news, all broadcast media, all social media, and most importantly, stop consuming peoples' rage-driven posts about any issue you care about. These things narcotize you and lull you into apathy, while fooling you into thinking you're doing something about the issue. Embrace a low-information, zero-media diet.

2) Read less about the specific issue that's important to you. Not more, less! Admittedly, this seems counter-intuitive. We all like to think we're missing out on being informed when we read less about an issue, but remember, we're up against a media that has interests that differ substantially from our own. In other words, the information made accessible to us through media isn't the information we want. Which brings us to the next solution...

3) While reading less, go directly to the source for your subject or issue information, do not use media or social media intermediaries that distort or impose (their) narratives on the information reaching you. Thus, read books or papers by genuine experts in the subject--and then read an oppositional book by opposing experts to make sure your own brain doesn't impose its own narrative on you either. I'll share an example in the domain of personal investing: I go directly to company quarterly earnings report transcripts (they are free at and never read analyst reports or financial media reports telling me their interpretation of what happened. I don't want the intermediary's perception! I want to shape my own.

4) Be aware of the phenomenon itself, always. If you can remind yourself that "this information I'm seeing about issue X (or this discussion I'm having about topic Y) is likely displacing or supplanting action I would rather be taking" you are far less likely to be lulled into narcotized complacency.

5) Take specific action. Fricking actually do something about the thing. And no, once again, posting rubbish on social media does not count. True action involves putting your own skin in the game: If you want to do something about the pay gap, hire a woman. If you want to do something about wealth inequality, teach people how to invest. If you want to do something about XYZ political issue, run for office. If you want to write a novel... write a novel. Do not talk about it or consume media about it unless you wish to be narcotized and made inert and impotent. See how that works?

To summarize:
Eliminate media consumption.
Read less about the issue.
Go directly to source documents; never use informational intermediaries.
Be aware of the phenomenon: you are always at risk of being narcotized.
Take action.


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