In March 2017 I decided to try an experiment: What would happen if I stopped reading the news? (Spoiler alert: I don’t regret it in the least.)
I used to read a lot of news, seek out articles on a regular basis, and even condense it to figure out the essential information. It was a good exercise in critical thinking and analyzing modern journalism. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with staying informed on current events. But after some time, I started to suspect this was a trending-negative experience. Reading every piece of major news didn’t feel helpful. After some thought I wrote “Is Staying Informed Overrated?” – my most popular post so far, which received some interesting responses.
So that month I decided to quit the news. More or less. I would glaze over headlines as they passed by in social media feeds, and I wouldn’t read any articles unless they seemed exceptionally interesting. I didn’t make any effort to watch or read anything news-related. The opposite of what I did for my weekly news summaries on this blog.
Here we are in March 2018 and I’m going to continue my experiment – which isn’t so much an experiment anymore as it is a permanent(?) lifestyle change. I feel better and have more energy/time to devote to things which matter in my life. I skimmed some old news to see if it’s still relevant, and 99 percent of it isn’t. Most news isn’t important and will soon fade from the collective conscious.
One of the things I find interesting is how others are arriving at similar conclusions around the same time. More and more people seem to think the news isn’t worthwhile. For example, here are some tweets related to my March 2017 post:
“When is the last time you consumed news that actually impacted your actions over the next day or week? (What comes to mind is weather, local events, and maybe investment related.)” – Shane Parrish, January 2018
“Great peace of mind can be achieved if you don’t bother having an opinion about things that don’t immediately affect your life.” – Ed Latimore, January 2018
“Best things to eliminate according to my audience: Toxic people/relationships, Alcohol/drugs, News/politics…” – Jimmy Song, February 2018
“Your mind automatically generates thoughts related to the information you consume. Be conscious of your information diet” – Michael, December 2017
I’d conclude that the news isn’t worth much (if any) time. There are a lot of things people can do on a day-to-day basis. Reading the news is more likely to make someone anxious and angry than anything else, so why bother? Cut negativity from your life. Especially news which is primarily political or ideological.
Given that people on social media often share things about current events, they’ll be informed anyway. At least on the major things. The exception would be if someone deletes each social profile. (To be fair, people are deleting their social media accounts. For many reasons, although recently it’s been because of that Facebook drama.) I heard about news every week despite my attempt to avoid news anyway.
Overall my year without news is a self-described success. I didn’t realize it’s been a full year until I started thinking “I haven’t written a blog post for 2018 yet” and skimmed through my more recent posts. Goes to show how unimportant the news was.