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July 30, 2015

Why I no longer watch the news & what I do instead.

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I confess—I don’t watch or read traditional headline news anymore, ever. I find it hugely depressing.

My dislike of headline news got me thinking—are many of us living our lives through the lens of someone else’s panic?

Are drama, devastation and sadness the only things that will attract our attentions in a world of constantly decreasing attention spans?

In my opinion, unconsciously digesting headline news is contributing to us ruminating on issues that are at best irrelevant to us personally, and at worst, damaging to our psyches.

Although most people’s day to day lives are fairly uneventful, we are in the routine of waking up and watching or reading the most dramatic stories from around the globe. We have been led to believe that digesting these stories is important and perhaps even a precursor to success and adequate functioning in human society. In my opinion, It’s not.

My boycott of the mainstream news began when I moved from New Zealand to Houston, Texas. When I turned on the news and listened to a story about a local shooting it almost put me into a panic attack. “How close was that to me?” “Am I safe here?” But in reality, the actual risk to my safety didn’t change whether I was allowing myself to be in a hyper-vigilant panic state or not.

For a while I thought that I was one of a strange few who kept a distance from mainstream media. Yet, during a recent eye exam, my optometrist told me that she too had given up on the news. In her opinion, it was generally depressing and full of political nonsense.

She then mentioned that she told another patient about her rejection of the news and he was completely unimpressed. Her reply to him was priceless: “What is the worst that could happen? I die because I didn’t get warning of an impending nuclear disaster? Well if that was the case, I was going to die anyway and at least this way, I’ll be completely unaware and living life happily right up until the moment it hits.” She had a point.

I made a conscious decision that I wanted to consume information that would contribute to my psychological health and well-being. So rather than be feed irrelevant media, I decided to take my power back and choose what was served up to me.

Here are three things I do instead of reading the headline news:

1. I created my own “News” Feeds. One of the great things about social media is that it is personalized. I have the power to decide what I would and would not like to see in my News Feed. Through following and liking my favorite media sites and pages, I have done just that. I pop onto Facebook or Twitter in the morning and am met with inspiring articles and thoughts. From here, I can pick and choose what feels right for me to read. My feeds have become a personalized digital newspaper filled with information that is relevant and appealing to me.

2. I subscribe to writers and news sites that I enjoy. Almost every writer and news site has a newsletter, so if I like them enough I kindly invite them into my inbox. Now each morning I open my email to find a steady stream of hand-picked information delivered right to my virtual door.

3. I read books. I buy myself a new inspirational book at least monthly. In a world dominated by technology, I find there is something special about holding a real, feel-the-paper-between-your-fingers book in my hand. So many brilliant authors and researchers are writing exciting material that can be digested via this traditional form, yet can be missed by mainstream media.

I’m no longer watching the news and it’s working for me. I don’t consider myself ignorant due to not knowing the details from the latest headlines. I have used the resources available to me to ensure I still digest plenty of new information. In fact, I consider myself more enlightened thanks to all of the inspirational information I’m digesting in the time I’ve freed up. I still stay up-to-date with big and important stories. They inevitably pop up in my news feed or are shared with me by a friend.

I believe that our high levels of connectedness mean we can’t hide from a story that really deserves our attention. But since I gave up on the news, my world really does seem a lot brighter.

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Relephant Read: 

Best Fa(ke)cebook Newsfeed Ever.

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Author: Kate Snowise 

Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photo: Google Images for Reuse

Kate Snowise

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