My News Fast
I didn’t do it on purpose – stop watching the news, that is. Matter of fact, I never really watched much news, but I listened to a pretty good amount of NPR, and a lot of online sources (everything from a full suite of feeds in my Google Reader to the constantly refreshing DrudgeReport + any news items that showed up in my social feeds).
But then a few things happened all at the same time, and I decided that it was largely time for news and I to take a break.
At the same time as Google Reader was given the axe, I found my morning routine shifting from NPR in the kitchen to music. I liked this shift, and found myself not less informed, but more attentive when things did crop up, and with more time and mental bandwidth to process these things.
I decided to take another step and cut out the news-specific web browsing habits I had. Goodbye, DrudgeReport.
Then a funny thing happened. I didn’t miss it – at all.
Uninformed = unintelligent?
I’ll be the first to admit that I did worry some about being uninformed because I was making the conscious choice to shut things out. The last thing I wanted to be was an ostrich, with my head in the sand pretending that if I didn’t see something, it wasn’t happening.
But, really, most of the news that makes it into our 24/7 cycle is of little consequence to our individual daily lives, and yet costs us an enormous amount of mental and emotional resources.
The day the Boston Bombings were breaking, I had a pre-scheduled doctor’s appointment. Nothing serious or dangerous, but I found myself wanting to compulsively check Twitter or some other news site to see if there were any more details that had emerged (much less been verified or run to ground).
I realized as the tragic Boston Bombing was playing out on every screen and speaker that I owned that humans simply aren’t wired for this sort of onslaught.
What was I to do about this situation? I’m not a first responder in Boston, or a United States Attorney, or an intelligence officer. My worrying about it isn’t going to resolve it any more quickly, and it’s going to keep me from focusing on things that truly do need my attention.
Two Weeks Later
After two solid news-free weeks, I’ve found that I really don’t miss it at all. Yes, I’ve been a little out of the loop on Syria, but similar to Boston, my ability to impact the situation is minimal.
On the other hand, I’ve found myself generally lighter, less distracted, with more time and attention to dedicate to the things more core to my daily existence.
I’m not saying that I’ve given up news forever, but I am saying that I’m taking a much more measured approach to it – almost like exercise. There’s a certain amount required for an optimal life, but a 24/7 dedication to it leads to a pretty unbalanced existence.
So, for now, news and I will remain broken up. If we do get back together, it’ll be on my terms, not theirs. But that’s a big if – I’m pretty happy with how things are now.