“Don’t blame a clown for acting like a clown. Ask yourself why you keep going to the circus.”
My parents and school teachers taught me it was important to watch the news every day.
When I was in primary school, we even used to watch the news during class AND got a weekly quiz on the latest happenings and political events, to check if we followed the latest news with an eager eye.
What stood out for me, is that we were never asked to form our own opinion. We were merely asked to repeat the things that were presented as the truth that week.
As a good (read: docile) student, I started following the news and stayed up to date on all that was happening in the world. And I continued doing so years after primary school.
I watched the morning news while having breakfast, read the newspaper while commuting, and watched the news for a second time that day after dinner.
Until I decided not to anymore. Here’s why:
1. The News misrepresents the world.
The news only presents the extremes in our world (otherwise it wouldn’t be news after all). Most of it is negative, because fear and scandals sell. If it has the potential to threaten your livelihood, the news networks will cash in: events will be enlarged and sensationalized.
Follow the news long enough and you’ll inevitably start to believe the world is falling apart. Truth is, the situation is not as dire as it is presented.
2. The News is a time waster.
Add up all the hours you have watched the news and read the newspaper (either online or the actual paper). This is the cost.
Now look at the upside. Sure, you learned a thing or two about politics, but could you have spend those hours on another project with a higher return on investment? Probably.
3. The News shifts focus to the things that are not in your control.
Attention is rare. If you can attract and hold the attention of many, you can make a considerable amount selling ads.
It’s in the interest of the news to shift your focus from what is in your control to what is out of your control, as it shifts the attention from your direct surroundings to global events.
Chances are you’ll start living a more passive life as a result.
For the reasons mentioned above, I decided to spend significantly less time following the news – ten years ago.
My colleagues used to tell me ‘I was living under a rock’, because I was often unaware of the latest news and the hottest hype.
Truth is, it is a nice place to be… under my rock. This is where I focus on learning new things that excite me, where I focus on the things that make me happy.
Try it for a week or two. See how you feel afterwards.
Oh, and don’t worry about missing out.
If the events that make the news have a real potential to impact your livelihood, your colleagues and friends will be eager to fill you in on the latest.
At least you’ll be able to question it with an open mind and put it in perspective.
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