I Stopped Watching The News. You Should Too. Here’s Why.
The news cycle
The key reason.
It creates anxiety. Showing bad things that happen to people leave many people feeling anxious. Recent studies put a figure as high as 1 in 10 of us are anxious. Yet the majority of us live in a world that is far safer than at any point in history.
It makes you lazy (mentally)
It stops you thinking for yourself – you are spoon fed information.
When I talk about this the most common response is “Oh but I feel more informed when I watch the news. I get to know what’s happening in the world.”
Yes and No.
Yes, you hear stories from around the world.
No, you are fed items of news that are curated by someone else. Someone who has an agenda or a bias and so the news is never impartial.
The news is full of B/C grade celebrities that you don’t like and have no interest in. Yet they are paraded in front of you nightly on the pretext of “news”. Pushing their products, services or their brand (i.e. themselves). The news gives them a free endorsement. Until they do something wrong, then the same journalist round on them like a pack of hyenas.
The news cycle quickly moves on from one story to the next. There is almost never a follow-up and conclusion to a story. So it remains unresolved for most of us. Ever watched a TV show or film that finishes unresolved (frustrating isn’t it!)
Alain De Botton on the news
Alain De Botton – The British philosopher says that there are only 25 different types of news stories. They just get repeated again and again each night.
The news occupies the same dominant position in modern society as religion once did, asserts Alain de Botton – but we don’t begin to understand its impact on us.
He raises questions like: “How come disaster stories are often so uplifting? What makes the love lives of celebrities so interesting? Why do we enjoy politicians being brought down? Why are upheavals in far off lands often so… boring?”
We are hardwired to look for negative news and threats. It’s what kept us alive. Using this hardwired part of our DNA news agencies populate 95% of their shows with negative news.
The poor cat stuck up a tree story.
Usually, the last segment of the news is an uplifting feel good story to finish off the broadcast. Why? Again they are using psychology to give you hope and leave the last message as positive so you will tune in tomorrow night. Having 100% bad news is a turn off for most people so they deliberately end on an upbeat story. Cynical isn’t it.
Instead of watching the news you could use this time to do something you actually have a real interest in. Read history, biographies, or listen to podcasts. Maybe you are already overstimulated with information during the day so instead, use the time to meditate.
The news is free but it comes at a cost. For many, this is an increase in anxiety. For others is a missed opportunity to read/listen/do something that you actually care about or enjoy.
Try it for 30 days. If you feel ill-informed or less educated you can always go back to watching it.
But once you have unplugged for those 30 days you may decide never to go back – like I did.