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I Stopped Reading the News

Recently I have been attempting to do something a lot of people would struggle doing, stop consuming news (all media). The funny thing is I thought it would be easy until I realized that we are bombarded everyday with information that comes under the category of “news” making this challenge even more difficult. A few examples:

  • Social media: That person you are following that tweets things going on around your country or city such as accidents, crime and headlines from the daily papers. I’m pretty sure we’ve all got that one person we’re following!
  • Radio: News bulletins that come up every hour interrupting the music. I would even consider the ads themselves to be news especially when they subtly hint something going on (health insurance when healthcare prices are going up, for example).
  • Print:  Newspapers and magazines are sold in almost every grocery store and supermarket, sometimes on a rack right at the entrance of the store.
  • Visual: TV, YouTube the Internet itself. You’ve got the news, talk shows etc on the TV, load up YouTube’s homepage and I’m pretty sure there is some sort of news there even if you are just watching videos of cute kittens playing. The Internet itself I would say is one giant news feed! Then you have websites that rely on remarketing where they advertise articles from other websites and it’s usually through some catchy headlines.
  • People: When you’re chillin’ with someone at a cafe or with your family at the dinner table and someone starts talking about something that happened somewhere and so on.

The list above could go on and on. The reality is that we are exposed to a world that is now overloaded with information, especially as technology advances and it becomes easier and easier to be spoon fed information.

The Why

Now, the main reason why I decided to stop looking at the news is because I have noticed that it (and I) had become pretty negative for quite some time. Locally there is news about how many people were killed in some regional conflict, news about those suffering from some epidemic disease, news about how the economy is going to crash soon, then news about how the economy is so great (sometimes posted just a day apart!), corruption here and there and the list goes on. Pick up your newspaper and tally up the headlines that you think are “positive” and the “negative” ones. I have a feeling you’ll have more on the negative side.

I’ve noticed that the negativity if the news started to paint in my mind a grim view of the world, one of struggle, sadness, hopelessness and, worst of all, fear. This has impacted me even more ever since I became truly independent in my life literally supporting myself in every area of my life. I hear about fuel prices going up and start thinking how to budget this increase, I hear about utilities going up and start worrying up the upcoming bill, I hear about the economy going into a recession and wonder if I’ll still have my job tomorrow or if prices of basic needs will be going up. Sure it is my fault to look at things in this way and ignore the happy, positive things in life: the friends I have, the food on the table and the bits of enjoyment that I get here and there to keep me happy (books, movies, music, good food etc…). However, if cutting out the news from my life will keep me more focused (or refocus) on the positives and blessings that I have then that should be a benefit well worth it.

You also have the subconscious factor to take into account. They say that the subconscious mind is able to store everything that has come through your senses from the day you were born until the day you die. Everything you have seen, touched, smelled, tasted and heard is constantly being recorded in your subconscious. You might not be able to recall things easily, but it is all there. At certain times I have had experiences where I would recall a name, or something I had seen a very long time ago and then realize how insignificant it was but still it popped out of my thoughts (I had the word/name “reynolds” thrown in my mind while filling out a form, after some thought I realized it was the brand of pens I used to use in school and, no, it wasn’t the pen I was using!). The data your subconscious collects is used to portray and create your vision of reality. Everyone has a different reality based on their thoughts and conditioning that has been shaped through their subconscious mind. You can have a positive and hopeful person and a completely negative and hopeless person put in some sort of difficult situation and notice that the positive is most likely to pull themselves out in a better way simply because they tend to have a positive outlook of their life and their surroundings.

Easy? Hell No!

So, how easy was it to stop news from reaching my senses? Not easy at all. I noticed that whenever I fired up my browser the most visited sites were: a local tweeter that posts news (usually the bad kind), the top local English newspaper and the 2nd local English newspaper. I would simply start to type “t” for Twitter and my browser would immediately suggest that tweeter’s account, same with the newspapers. I had to make a conscious effort not to visit any news related stuff online. Occasionally I would notice myself “accidentally” visiting these places. It was tough forcing myself into news ignorance, but I eventually managed to pull through, even suffering a bit of withdrawal (news can be addictive).

The Benefits (to me at least)

It’s been almost a week since I stopped or consciously stopped myself from consuming news and noticed some positive changes happening already:

  • I’m more positive: I’m more positive (yes I just repeated myself). I’m not worrying about people dying, patients with cancer going up or the economy slowing down. I can’t stop a war, I don’t have the cure and I’m no economist that can reverse the recession. I’m starting to enjoy things I used to enjoy back when I was younger such as reading fiction and immersing myself in fun activities.
  • I’m thinking on my own: I’m making decisions based on my own thoughts and feelings rather than basing them on external factors. I’m going to enjoy my slice of pizza or that chocolate bar and not worry about all the bad stuff that is in it that will kill me only if I ate in excess everyday… Life is too short to be following someone’s advice and what they want you to be and not making your own reality.
  • I have more time: The time I may have spent reading an article is going to more useful areas of my life. I have started going to the gym, decided to focus on my blog after a long hiatus, reading books I enjoy, learning new things that pique my interest and simply doing things that make me happy.
  • Creativity: This one is a bit subtle and comes out of the blue to me. I wouldn’t consider myself a very creative person, but, ever since I stopped looking at the news I noticed that I was getting creative morsels dropped in my mind. One of them was getting more serious with my writing and do something creative like write a novel (the title flashed as a lay in bed one night, with it the gist of the story). Another was a sort of freelance work (also involving writing) to increase my income.
  • Conscious consumption: I’ve become conscious of the information I consume. I’ve swayed away from news about events that has no impact on my life or that I have little control of the outcome. Instead I’m looking at more thought provoking content that would either make me a better person (health, mindfulness, meditation, self help etc…) or allow me to contribute somehow to society (optimizing my work, improving my writing, increasing my income by providing something in exchange).
Give it a try!

I’m pretty sure I will be experiencing, or rather noticing, some great things happening in my life as I continue to keep the news away from my senses. I would suggest you give it a try even if it is just a couple of days a week by avoiding your newspaper during the weekend and doing something fun instead.

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