On Ultra-Processed Content


🔗 a linked post to calnewport.com » — originally shared here on

In the context of nutrition, we’re comfortable deciding to largely avoid ultra-processed food for health reasons. In making this choice, we do not worry about being labelled “anti-food,” or accused of a quixotic attempt to reject “inevitable progress” in food technology.

On the contrary, we can see ultra-processed good as its own thing — a bid for food companies to increase market share and profitability. We recognize it might be hard to avoid these products, as they’re easy and taste so good, but we’ll likely receive nothing but encouragement in our attempts to clean up our diets.

This is how we should think about the ultra-processed content delivered so relentlessly through our screens. To bypass these media for less processed alternatives should no longer be seen as bold, or radical, or somehow reactionary. It’s just a move toward a self-evidently more healthy relationship with information.

This mindset shift might seem subtle but I’m convinced that it’s a critical first step toward sustainably changing our interactions with digital distraction. Outraged tweets, aspirational Instagram posts, and aggressively arresting TikToks need not be seen as some unavoidable component of the twenty-first century media landscape to which we must all, with an exasperated sigh, adapt.

They’re instead digital Oreos; delicious, but something we should have no problem pushing aside while saying, “I don’t consume that junk.”

Brilliant analogy from Cal Newport.

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