Spoilers: The World didn’t end.
I used to have a mild to medium level addiction towards following the news. About a year ago, I noticed this addiction was harming my life, so I decided to quit cold turkey.
Before I quit, It seemed like I couldn’t go a day without being plugged into the news at nearly all times.
When I woke, I’d ask my google home for a debrief on what the latest happenings were. During my commute to work, I would tune into an AM talk radio show that fed me new minute details on the latest developing story what seemed like every time I passed by a stop sign. When I got home, I set the TV channel to CNN to let the red “breaking news” banner scroll continuously through the evening as I went about my household chores.
Additionally, every time that I pulled out my phone to open my social media, I would scroll through a timeline composed of predominately news articles with dramatic headlines, and even more dramatic comment sections.
My life was being bombarded by “Breaking News.” However, I’m afraid the only thing that the news was breaking was my resolve.
In reflection, I suppose my addiction wasn’t precisely the news itself. What I was addicted to was the need to have all of the answers. I was addicted to the instant gratification of knowledge that these sources gave to me as they delivered their sound-bite sized thesis of reality. I was addicted to the ease in which I felt satisfied being an ‘informed citizen,’ and the sense of pride it touted my ego with. I felt comfortable being a good citizen doing my part, which, in reality, was listening to what other people told me to believe.
The truth is, I wasn’t doing my part. Instead, I was finding a lazy and comfortable way to convince myself and others that I was.
The problems of the world require a much higher deal of effort to resolve and is going to require us all to get uncomfortable willingly.
The systems in which the world operates are incredibly complex, and it can be overwhelming for any single person to want to tackle. It is much easier for a person to turn on the news, absorb their 2-minute segment, and then turn it off self-assured that they did their due-diligence of being an ‘informed citizen,’ and then sleep soundly. This ritual relieves a person from having actually to venture out into the world to confront its challenges.
I know that there is at least an ounce of truth to this because that person was once me.
It is also essential to recognize that not any one person, source, or industry has all the answers. When you follow the news as if gospel, you are treating the source as omnipresent and all-knowing. Those who present the news operate from a limited perspective and, therefore, only contain an unquantifiable portion of the overall big T Truth.
Moreover, it is not wise to only trust any one person, source, or industry, as you do not understand the motives of those who are disseminating the information. When you do this, you are giving that group a great ordeal of power – this is non-trivial and should not be handled lightly. I often wonder whos best interest these groups have in mind with their reporting: The worlds? Ours? Their own? The state? The pocketbooks and ruling power of the rich and powerful?
I digress, this tangent on the power hierarchies of society, and how the news solidifies them could make for a blog post on its own.
Not to mention that it makes us feel small and powerless. It propagates a victimhood narrative throughout society; it makes us believe that the power to make a change in the world rests in someone else’s hands and not our own. Instead, you should stay at home and remain glued to your TV as others solve the problems of the world for you, and you do your part by watching. It makes you feel helpless.
I think the most significant problem that occurs when someone is addicted to following the news is the effect it has on our mental health.
Engaging heavily with the news put me in a near-permanent state of fear and anxiety. I used to live life with the belief that every day the world was about to end, and I am not exaggerating when I say that I would often wake in the night in an anxious panic as if at that very moment a calamity was occurring. The mindset I developed lead to a host of mental and physical health problems with my body. No longer having to deal with this is the thing I am most thankful for quitting the news.
Lastly, the news conditions you to believe the world is an awful place. Yes, there are many things we need to improve upon collectively as humanity. However, I think the world isn’t a bad place – in fact, I quite like it.
So I quit the news, cold turkey.
I stopped asking for the google home briefings, I dialled off the talk radio commutes, put down the remote on the persistent red scrolling banners, unfollowed all the clickbait on my timelines, and I ignored the stigma behind not being ‘informed.’
Despite me doing all of this, the world did not end.
What did happen was that I started noticing a significant improvement in my day to day mental and physical well-being.
I started working on myself, educating myself from first principles, establishing myself as an individual free thinker.
I started working on sharing my gifts and finding meaningful ways in which I could contribute to making society a better place.
I started viewing the world more positively and practice being mindful of the beauty that is all around me throughout my entire day.
I started to become more fulfilled and happy, instead of anxious and afraid.
I emancipated myself from the confines of chains of fear.
I am living my life with freedom in my mind and love in my heart.
Although some may say I am not doing my part – since I am no longer ‘an informed citizen’ – I would argue that I am now doing more than ever towards my part because of all the facets I noted above.
In conclusion, my life has been better since I quit the news. I believe yours may get better too. I would recommend trying it if you haven’t already.
Thank you for reading,
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