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I’m Going to Quit Reading Online and Go Back to Reading Books

by | May 22, 2023 | Writing

Man, the internet sucks if you like reading.

This is unpopular to say but…

Is it just me or does anyone else feel like the quality of online writing has gone to zero in almost all corners of the internet?

I’m so tired of internet content that follows formulas and feels more like a creepy hand down the front of your pants than an insightful piece of writing. Don’t worry, there’s another way.

How to waste 10+ hours a week and feel like death

My job is to write online.

That means my writing is a reflection of what I read. If I don’t read then I don’t have ideas to write about. So I have to read to survive and eat.

Every week I set aside time to read online — tweets, Quora, WordPress blogs, Mastodon, Instagram, New York Times, etc.

There’s just so much trash. The headlines bore me. The cover illustrations are the same old stock photos we’ve all seen millions of times.

The part that’s misunderstood is all this searching takes so much time. I’d rather spend my time reading than looking for what to read.

One way to fight the online algorithms

As a form of protest I stopped trusting social media algorithms years ago and switched to reading mostly newsletters and stuff I’d bookmarked.

This worked for a while. There are some good newsletters on the internet. The problem is even the quality of newsletters has gone downhill.

It seems like everyone just copied the Tim Ferriss and James Clear bullet method newsletter template and said “that’ll do, mate.”

I’ve tried to love a lot of what I read in my email inbox, but so much of it is garbage.

The dystopian AI effect has made it worse

Now that AI and ChatGPT have gone mainstream this year it’s made the problem worse.

A lot of what I try to read is dry and full of how-to advice. It’s becoming obvious a lot of it isn’t even written by humans anymore. This means my boredom levels are through the roof.

AI has created another bizarre problem.

Social media apps used to be starving for content. Now they’re drowning in it. People are using ChatGPT to automate the writing process and auto-upload the work every minute to the big platforms.

The more content, the more garbage you have to sift through.

The time I’ve spent searching for stuff to read has doubled. It’s so tiring and unnecessary. The other weird thing is there is an overabundance of writing around the topic of AI and ChatGPT.

I can’t escape it. It’s everywhere I go. I understand AI is important, but frankly, I don’t give a f*ck about it.

The whole concept is boring to me and I’ll use it where I see fit. But I’m not changing my whole life because AI is suddenly mainstream and every knowledge worker employee is pissing their pants.

Every social media app is clogged up with this AI sludge.

It feels urgent to read about it but it’s all the same crap. We’re all experimenting with AI. Isn’t that enough? Do I need to abandon my child, leave Australia, and go work for Microsoft as well?

For the love of god, someone help.

The breathtakingly simple way to escape crap writing

Read books.

Yesterday I had enough. My usual day of online reading got nuked. I checked my emails then turned off my computer.

I fired up my 5 year old iPad in airplane mode and started reading good old books again. Here’s what books I’m reading:

  • The Minimalist Entrepreneur
  • Excellent Advice For Living — Kevin Kelly
  • Hidden Genius: The secret ways of thinking that power the world’s most successful people — Polina Pompliano
  • The Great Rat Race Escape — MJ DeMarco
  • How to Get Rich — Felix Dennis (not what the title makes it sound like)
  • The Almanack of Naval Ravikant — Eric Jorgenson

The book that surprised me most is “10X is easier than 2X” by Benjamin Hardy. It took my breath away. Better than any self-help article I’ve ever read.

The opening story is about Michelangelo. It’s one I’ve never read before and I can’t stop thinking about it.

I’m having the time of my life reading again.

The reason I think books are so good is because they take longer to write. There’s more effort that goes into them. And there’s a lot of editing, usually, from a professional editor.

Online writing lacks the finesse of books.

Final Thought

You may have read this and gone “crap, there goes my writing dream.”

Hold your horses cowboy/cowgirl. That’s not the case at all. Bad writing is an opportunity. If you can write something half-decent, you’ll thrive in this current content drought.

And if you’re a reader, it’s time to consider spending more time with good books. Especially old books.

I’ll keep you posted on my reading experiment. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your experience if you’re willing to share and help me and the other readers 🙂

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