Special Relativity of 'Things'

Time Dilation, Content, and Evergreen-ness

Hey friends—

I’m beginning to realize that, the theory of ‘special relativity’ applies to all basic things of life too. If something happened last year, it feels like it happened eons ago. The hypothesis being that, as volatility increases, time dilates.

For example, 2020 seems farther than it really is, 2018 seems like 2010, and 2005 feels like 1990. Time dilates the more you go into the past.

This got me thinking about Salvador Dali’s classic painting The Persistence of Memory, which nudges you to think about time expansion and dilation.

The Persistence of Memory and Salvador Dalí's Contribution to Surrealism

Notice how time dilated… Now, think about any major event from 2020. (See below video, for example.)

You’ll see how there are at least 10 - 15 things you wouldn’t have actively remembered off the top of your head. And that is precisely the point. So many things are happening around us that it’s hard to keep track and register each one of them.

In a way, then, we’re in the middle of a serious infodemic, except that we don’t see it.

With the proliferation of low-friction access to media, both creators and their content have increased by a huge margin. Which changes how we consume information. There’s just so much to learn or consume that we forget to process. (Which is why I suggested the 80-20 rule here.)

The point being that, as time dilates and shelf-life of content reduces, it becomes incredibly important to produce as we consume, so as to ensure we’re not just mindlessly engaging with content.

I liked this particular excerpt from Balaji Srinivasan’s chat with David Perell here:

Typically, people will put, let’s say, war reporting and Kim Kardashian reporting at opposite ends of the spectrum, like, “Hey, this is super serious. Pulitzer,” and this is fun infotainment or whatever. I actually argue they’re both infotainment at one end of the spectrum, and the other end is news you can use or tutorials. The differences, is this piece of information directly relevant to your life? Are you going to in particular, spend the effort to check every line of this information?

Make sure to check out the entirety of this answer because it has useful insights on how to make content more meaningful, more engaging, more helpful, so that we engage in education, not just infotainment.

Seek relevance of content, usefulness of ideas, and ‘evergreen’-ness of things.

Until next time,


The Podcast

In this episode, Ali and Abhi catch up with each other after a long time and share thoughts on life, productivity, lessons learned from college, and the way forward. Tune in for an exciting, casual chat. Listen to the latest episode on Spotify, Google, Apple, or our website.

Our Commonplace Book

  • Definitely recommend watching this video by Ali Abdaal:
  • Great longform post on ‘Speculation’ by MoreToThat here
  • How to design the perfect day here