Author Jim Rohn famously noted how "you are the average of the five people you spend your time with". I could not agree with this statement enough, and it is something that I have become increasingly mindful about.

This line of thought also got me thinking about the people that influence my 'digital' life. Lets face it - we find ourselves in a screen obsessed, data hungry era. A recent report by the Huffington Post highlighted how on average, one third of people’s waking hours are spent on the internet, with phones being used on average five times an hour, every waking hour." 

Yes you read that correctly. No typos there. I remember reading the article and being in complete shock, thinking to myself - what a complete waste of time! 

Time however, in and of itself, is subjective to how one approaches it. How mindful one is when using it. As noted by Seneca, “it is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it”. Our time on earth is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. Therefore, we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it.

Now you might be wondering why I started off by talking about people, and seemed to have gone off on a complete tangent. The premise of my trail of thought however, is leading to the idea that it is imperative that one applies the same stringent approach to the people that you physically surround yourself with - to the people and sources of information that one uses the internet for. 

I have come to realize how the internet, in particular social media, has brought about a sheer amount of unnecessary noise and self comparison. Experiences which result in vacating your own life experience, your own soul. Platforms which seemingly have created unconscious inner barometers for ones own value, based on page views, likes and retweets. Ridiculous quantification metrics that will be obsolete within a decade, and frankly - just a bloody waste of time. This all got me thinking about how I spend my time on the internet, what exactly I want out of it, and most importantly - who can I learn from? 

Despite the perils of the digital world, it has opened up an infinite amount of doors, each of which could be sought after mindfully, to be either opened or closed at one’s choosing. 

With that, I wanted to share 5 people in the digital world who I seek out on a regular basis for various insights and inspiration. Individuals who strive to be uncynical, and aim to be a hope-giving force. Stewards of substance. People who choose to lift others up, not lower them down.

A master-class in personal and professional development, ultra-athlete, wellness evangelist and bestselling author Rich Roll delves deep through his weekly podcast with the world's brightest and most thought provoking thought leaders to educate, inspire and empower his listeners to unleash their best, most authentic self. 


2. Casey Neistat

Uncompromising. Unapologetic. Filmmaker, photographer, builder, father, humanitarian, athlete. But most of all, an artist leveraging his boundless creative energy to tell personal stories that inspire all of us to find the adventure in life. To invest in experience. To be bold. And to do more — both for yourself and for others.

In the words of Wired Magazine, “Casey Neistat’s bite-size Internet movies have so much viral potential they make influenza jealous.” But what is it that makes Casey and his work so irresistible?  Sure, the movies are fun.  Irreverant.  Visually captivating with great music and personal storylines that always star Casey himself as the ever-appealing protagonist.

But in my opinion, what makes Casey stand out, what gives his work permanent residence in my mind, is his devotion to authenticity — an axiom of conviction that infuses every single frame of every single work he produces.


3. Maria Popova

Maria Popova is the mind behind Brain Pickings, a highly influential and addictive curation of the best content from the web and beyond. As she describes it, Brain Pickings is "your LEGO treasure chest, full of pieces across art, design, science, technology, philosophy, history, politics, psychology, sociology, ecology, anthropology, you-name-itology."


4.Chris Burkard

An accomplished explorer, photographer, creative director, speaker, and author. Traveling throughout the year to pursue the farthest expanses of Earth, Burkard works to capture stories that inspire humans to consider their relationship with nature, while promoting the preservation of wild places everywhere.

Layered by outdoor, travel, adventure, surf, and lifestyle subjects, Burkard is known for images that are punctuated by untamed, powerful landscapes. Through social media chris strives to share his vision of wild places with millions of people, and to inspire them to explore for themselves.


5. Mike Horn

Born in South Africa, Mike Horn embodies the modern “explorer”. The fact that he has explored some of the most remote regions on the planet under extreme conditions, using his own resources, and with amazing self-discipline has brought him worldwide recognition and even admission to The Explorers Club in New York – the prominent members of which are counted as leading explorers of land, sea, air, and space.

A pioneer par excellence who knows nature in all of its extreme manifestations, Mike Horn is dedicated to internationally raising awareness of the destruction of the environment and is passionately devoted to its conservation. His expeditions have included traversing the Amazon from source to mouth solo, circumnavigating the Arctic Circle alone, and the four-year Pangaea project, which took him to all of the Earth’s continents.


In a nutshell, these five individuals have truly inspired me. I often see them as the creators of today and more importantly tomorrow’s ideas and ideals. Positively sculpting public opinion and culture all over the internet.  Individuals who have pedalled hard through life, getting places, yet ensuring that the pace that they pedal at answers only to their own standards of vigor. 

I think many of us have this certain sensation. At least I certainly feel I do. A sensation that we are standing a couple of feet away from a huge screen. A screen that is noisy and crowded - changing with every second. 

I truly feel that it is only by stepping back, then a few more steps back, and holding still, that we begin to see what our canvas truly means. It is only through taking this step that one is truly able to pick and choose what makes up our sum of 1 + 5. Having the ability to be intentional and actually choose what and who you surround yourself with in the digital world, in a way that constructively builds a life that one truly wants to inhabit.