Why I Don’t Follow the News

The News is a Lot of Noise

In high school, I listened to NPR while driving. When I went to college, I had no car, and suddenly stopped listening to the news. Additionally, I had no subscriptions to newspapers or news websites.

Did I feel like I was missing out? Not at all. I realized it was beneficial not to follow the news too closely. The news is a lot of noise.

Think of news reports as a graph. When I get hourly updates (or micro-updates), I’m zoomed in and I miss the big picture. When I receive information once a month, I see broad trends. Everyday fluctuations tell me nothing. General trends might affect my life.

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Did I feel like I was missing out? Not at all.

Worse than Nothing

In fact, micro-updates are worse than nothing. A negative fact makes my subconscious more upset than a positive fact makes me happy. So even if my media stream recorded an even balance of positive and negative facts, my head would be filled with a bunch of updates that a) have almost no meaning to my life b) make me unconsciously worse off than if I knew nothing.

If something is important, I will find out about it without being told by the news. Oftentimes, the most relevant news arrives to me by word of mouth. It’s a wonderful organic filter.

I’ll admit, this means that the first time I hear about a political event, it might be presented differently based on who I hear it from. But I think that’s no worse than getting news from only liberal (or only conservative) sources.

So what do you do now, Sheldon?

I do check social media every day, but not obsessively. In fact, I turned off most notifications. And when I see news articles on social media, I very rarely click on them.

I don’t follow politics too closely anymore–general trends are better. If I want to find out about candidates, I do an intentional search on the Internet. And when it’s election time, I vote.

I don’t obsess over Google’s stock price or indexes. I have almost no influence on markets, so I get angry when I hear micro-updates like “The Dow Jones gained 1.2% in the first hour of trading.” That’s completely useless information!

Am I recommending living exactly like me? No. But I feel that I’m not missing out on anything, and I can focus on the things that matter more to my life.

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