Reading a book is a learning experience. Sitting around shooting the breeze is not.
Often we read books not to learn but to comfort ourselves that things we already believe are in fact so. In those cases, we read books not for the insights they offer, but for the emotional support they offer. In those cases, we are getting from books what we tend to think we get from talking things over with friends.
It works the other way around too. Sometimes talking things over with friends provides not emotional support, but intellectual insights.
We are not brains with legs that develop fresh insights by being exposed to new data bits. The hardest part of learning is often not the part that requires the use of logic skills. The hardest part is often the part that comes before logic enters the picture, the stage of the learning process in which we open ourselves to new ideas.
We are more open to new ideas when we are chatting things over with friends than we are when we are reading a book written by an “expert.” That’s especially so if the expert has not shared our life experiences, or if he (or she) comes off sounding distant or stuffy or patronizing.
Our friends haven’t taken courses in money management. That’s one way in which the people who write personal finance guides have them beat. But we trust our friends. So we often listen closer to what they say, and permit what they say to influence us more. That’s one way in which our friends have the authors of personal finance guides beat.
There’s a social component to the learning process. That’s the point.
That’s why you frequently hear me making reference to the Financial Freedom Community. The idea of this site is not for me to stand up in front of a room and lecture you about what works in putting together a plan for early retirement. The idea is for us to learn together, and for me to take what we have learned and form it into words that get across the essential points in the best possible way. Then we use those descriptions of our findings to pull even more people into our movement. As the movement grows, the thing snowballs. New people with new experiences bring up new questions and we all keep learning more and more and more.
You’ve probably heard the buzz-phrase “Web 2.0.” The concept being expressed is that the future of the internet is in the interaction it facilitates. People don’t come to the internet just to read words. They want to be able to participate in an experience.
This Web 2.0 thing is not a fad, in my assessment. It’s the real thing. Our first six years provide a look at what can be done when people from all over the world with common interests get together on the internet and make stuff happen.
The Financial Freedom Community was a Web 2.0 phenomenon before being a Web 2.0 phenomenon was cool.