Why following the news is a waste of time

. 2 min read

That's quite an aggressive title, I know. But it's true - unless you're paid to do it (say, if you're a news producer for example), reading and listening to the news daily does you no good. Quite the contrary. It's time away from more meaningful activities.

When I was young it was somehow considered grown-up to read the paper in the morning, and that you weren't one until you did. And then if not the paper, then online. Therefore I used to read the news, just so I could say I'm a mature grown-up. (It was an important part of my identity back then, the ability to say I'm a mature grown-up.) I would at least pretend to read the paper and definitely check the latest in an online news site. Back then I considered people not following the news ignorant and childish.

Until I stopped reading the news myself, that is.

A few years back I suddenly noticed how much time I spent on those online news sites daily. It was alarming. I had been thinking that I'd be ok - or at least better off than everyone else - if I just stayed clear from social media. But it wasn't. I would check the news multiple times a day, and those cheks often interrupted whatever work I was doing. Concentration and discipline, straight out of the window. I realized my habit had nothing to do with staying informed about the world but procrastinating, not doing the things I wanted to get done. And 'staying informed' was only a lousy excuse.

So I stopped, cold turkey style. I even redirected all email newsletters to the trash so I wouldn't be tempted. And what happened? Did the world collapse without me noticing it?

I soon noticed that if something was worth knowing about what was going on, someone would tell me about it. I didn't need to be the first in my circle to know. And if I was told nothing, nothing substantial had happened. Nothing substantial enough to influence my everyday life. I got the signals. The noise disappeared.

The feeling that came with it is quite indescribable, but the words 'freedom' and 'refreshing' and 'quiet' and 'inner peace' come close. I could finally concentrate on important things for hours at a time, no distractions. (Not to mention the feeling of smug superiority over those idiots who waste their lives on entertainment disguised as 'news'.)

So, years later, you can perhaps imagine a situation in which I'm shaking my head mentally when listening to a conversation between two people, one of which "reads the paper every morning" (and said it with pride), and the other "should start doing it" (and said it with great shame).

So read the news, if you want to. Really. Just realize it's a form of entertainment, not a civilized duty or general knowledge.