I Quit The News Today, Oh Boy...
I’m done. The news is no longer a part of my daily mental consumption.
I have always had an awareness of the “big picture” of the exploitative nature of the media, using their worst stories to draw us in and keep us engaged on online platforms. That results in profits from advertisers going straight into their coffers. Hell, I was so in tune with that scenario I dedicated an entire allegorical book series - Death Sentence! - to it, highlighting the unethical and predatory nature of the media beast. But it took a few closer looks, a step back from the big picture and a look into my daily routine to make the full realization by choosing to eliminate it from my life.
Firstly, it was a habit I engaged in only twice daily, morning and evening. So, that is not exactly being a news junkie. But what was I doing following a story, I thought? How did me following a story move it along/change it/solve a problem/cause a decision to be reversed, etc? It did none of those things. It did exactly nothing - except possibly infuriate me. Then I’d have an “event shadow” or annoying news ghost following me around all day. It was like taking a drug twice a day whose only reaction was to give me negative side effects.
Why would I want to continue doing that to myself?
I took great pride in refusing to watch news broadcasts decades ago. I still don’t. I regarded that analyst’s opinion as a form of propaganda. His or her, or rather the networks they worked for agenda. (We know that to be the case today a million times over) I have a brain to analyze and evaluate, too. So I began to read the news and continued on to this day. With the advent of the internet I continued that and also continued to eschew “talking heads”. Now, I conveniently have dozens of news stories all culled together in a list as long as my arm - collected by a for profit mega giant tech organization. And I can pick all the centrist sources to read from! The trouble is, I had to scroll through dozens of click bait headlines to get to my stories. And once I would get there, the writing wasn’t all that professional. Or it was an opinion.
I don’t want some guy’s opinion about what my favorite sports team should do in the off-season to improve their play.
If I want to know that information, I’ll consult their website and those of other subjects in which I am interested. I don’t need a hundred other useless pieces of information in my face twice daily.
When I quit smoking, I quit cold turkey. Two of my biggest motivators were very visual. One was looking at a photo of myself as a child and imagine that I was hurting him, by hurting a later version of himself. The other was less philosophical and more visceral: I pictured myself lighting a $10 bill on fire every day. It worked and I have remained smoke free for 17 years. You see, one of my motivators to break this news habit is convincing myself that after reading it nothing changes, meaning that world events are set in motion and will continue to play out however they will - whether I know about them or not.
For example, do I need to know about a maniac on the other side of the country who kills his family then commits suicide. That does not benefit me in any way, shape or form. Or if a government that is toppled by a coup on the other side of the world. I can’t undo that by reading the story. The event will not reverse itself by me knowing about it. What if the United States takes military action, you say? What if it does? Do you think I (or you) can change that course of action by “following” the story? No. It would only tend to continually aggravate me and I don’t need that. As the old adage goes: “I’ve got better things to do with my time” - time being a commodity that I am already seeing more of after only three days of cutting the cord.
My decision to this comes down to something I helped my wife with many years ago. When she was in school earning her Doctorate, she became very anxious about a lot of things. That is a big deal in one’s life, and I understood that, even though I have no college experience at all. So, I suggested she make a list of everything that was troubling her. She did, and it was very lengthy, taking up at least one side of a piece of letter-sized paper. There is no need to reveal the details of those things that bothered her because they would be irrelevant to you, and even to me now, some 15 years later. So I’ll just get directly to the method at hand. She gave me the paper and I read the first problem and asked her a simple question: Is that under your control or not? Is it something you can change? I read the rest of the list asking her the same thing for each grievance she had written. Almost all the things she had listed were out of her sphere of influence. There were a few that were but they were mostly academic or finding the time to do the work.
That same principal applies here in my choice to eliminate what I have finally realized is a technological nuisance and incursion into my personal life. I don’t need it - the majority of it is not relevant to my life, so I am controlling it by making it go away. Like a cancer, I am cutting it out of my brain.
Aren’t you putting your head in the sand, you might ask?
No. I’m using my survival instincts to eliminate something I have deemed to be a threat to my mental health and a complete and total waste of my life’s finite moments as well as not being beneficial to me in any way.
It’s a one-sided relationship.
In other words, I give the technology my time and I get nothing except (literally) unusable information and bad biased journalism in return. Think of the tech as being a person. Ask yourself how long that relationship would last?
And like participating (or not) in politics or religion, I have a personal choice. We all do.
And now, for me, no news is good news.