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A mile wide, an inch deep

If I were to publish an article titled "7 reasons why waking up at 5:30 will change your life," it would be my most viewed post by far. It's tempting, I'll admit. And I'm not saying I'm against it. What I am saying is that click bait works because people click on it. After all, it is bait. It lures us in with something appealing, something binge-worthy to catch our attention, then leaves us completely uninformed. 

Reading a short article about the possibility of colonizing Mars is not the same as studying relativity, quantum physics, and quantum gravity. But we do the equivalent when we act like we know what we're talking about in regards to economics, politics, parenting, finance, business, and the list goes on. 

It's easier to gather small bits of information on wide range of topics than to delve into a few. It's simpler to turn on the tv than to engage in conversation. It's more convenient to eat out than to apply the effort and cook a meal at home. 

A mile wide, an inch deep. This phrase refers to a Midwestern river in the United States called the Platte River. In 1889 Edgar Nye coined the saying as he described The Platte as a "muddy, wide, shallow, meandering stream with a swampy bottom, the characteristics of which made it too difficult to ever be used as a major navigation route." Nye wrote that the river "had a very large circulation, but very little influence. It covers a good deal of ground, but it is not deep. In some places, it is a mile wide and three-quarters of an inch deep." 

A mile deep, an inch wide. If you want to have influence, specialize. Dig deep. Become an expert. A well of undepletable knowledge is more valuable than a "muddy, wide, shallow, meandering stream," that could leave you high and dry at any moment.