There has never been an easier time to learn something new than today. Whether it is from a Wikipedia article, the plethora of online education platforms or a Twitter thread, streamlined opportunities to inject knowledge into our lives are endless in the Information Age. While this infinite flow of media can often lead to disinformation, it is nevertheless an exciting time to be alive for curious individuals. However, our unlimited access to information has the potential to bog us down and prevent us from learning anything substantial.
Interestingly enough, this phenomenon is the subject of “How to Focus,” the second season’s premiere of “The Mind Explained,” a docuseries that combats the issue of information overload.
The show, narrated by Julianne Moore (“Dear Evan Hansen ”), features five episodes on the topics of focus, the teenage brain, personality, creativity and brainwashing. In every episode, several experts on each respective subject provide insights, with Moore guiding us through the episodes’ narratives and aesthetically-pleasing graphics and animations. By the end of the season, the viewer will come away having learned numerous fascinating tidbits about the way our minds work, as well as the gist of the individual function of the brain discussed in each episode.
Written content has long been heralded as one of the best mediums to learn from. Unfortunately, sitting down to read an article, or worse yet, a book (gulp), in a time period when 30-second Instagram or TikTok clips could amuse you for hours per week seems daunting and impractical to many. Although the opportunities to read are certainly present, Americans — especially young Americans — are pursuing them less and less. Luckily, a more efficient alternative for meaningful learning is video content: YouTube videos, podcasts and television. You would be hard-pressed to find a member of Generation Z willing to read an entire book about the brain. On the other hand, convincing one to dedicate 20 minutes of their day over the course of a week to learn about the brain is much more likely.
One valid concern about short episodes covering substantial subjects, such as creativity, is that they might not be able to even scratch the surface of the material, let alone provide an adequate overview. An entire season could be dedicated to the study of creativity alone.
However, if you go into each episode of “The Mind Explained” expecting a brief introduction to a function of the brain, as opposed to an extensive deep dive, you won’t be disappointed. With its fast-paced format and casual, easy-to-digest style of explanation, the show generates interest without turning off viewers for being too complex.
Instead of spending too much time on the intricacies of the science of the brain, the show explains how the mind works with colloquial terminology and simple visuals. This strategy proves effective, making the show feel more like an enjoyable dinner conversation than a lecture.
Needless to say, watching one episode of “The Mind Explained” won’t make you an expert on the brain, just like watching one short YouTube video on filmmaking won’t make you an expert on movies. That being said, these short but sweet mediums can stoke a desire to learn more. Once these pieces of video content catch your attention, you will be motivated to continue gaining knowledge in other ways, like reading. The same logic can be applied to almost anything in life. If your goal is to run a marathon, you start by running shorter races and build your way up. While learning something new can be intimidating, it’s imperative to start by finding some sort of inspiration to commit to the pursuit.
Daily Arts Writer Aidan Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.