Don't watch the news

Don't watch the news

I haven't really watched, listened to, or read the news since the middle/end of university.

Before that, I thought it was really important for me as a business student to keep up with the news. Then I read The Art of Thinking Clearly by Dobelli.

There are three main reasons why I don't do news anymore:

  1. News is becoming increasingly political and polarized. I'm guessing but I recon less than 1/10 sources are non-partisan + represent true objective reality. This is not a good thing IMO because then the news that "feeds you" with "info", it becomes an echo chamber for their (and as a result your) views of the world. This is because of availability/familiarity bias and confirmation bias.
  2. Because news is becoming more polarized and extreme, news outlets are having to show / demonstrate extreme things to grab your attention. It's no longer about the news; it's about getting 👀s watching (think TV shows needing to have dramatic plot twists to get more viewers).
  3. Availability bias. People more readily remember things that are shocking, unexpected, graphic. For example, an airplane crash. So when people watch the news and see an airplane crash, they become very scared and don't want to fly anymore. And they decide to drive. Even though, statistically speaking, flying in an airplane is waaaaay safer than driving in a car.

I think a lot of people pride themselves on being "well-informed" and they think they do this by keeping track of the news 24/7. I'm not so sure following the news 24/7 is a way of being "well-informed" IMO. Use the Lindy effect and read some books.

For me, basically I've come to the conclusion that if the news is important enough, it will reach me through others. As in, I use others to filter the news for me. If it doesn't reach me, it probably isn't that important.

Should you keep watching the news? Idk, that's really up to you. I might consider asking yourself: after I watch the news, am I feeling more positive, energized, and optimistic? If not, what and how am I feeling? I don't think life is sunshine and rainbows and we should be happy 24/7/365 but I think the news brings a lot of folks down and they would probably be better off if they didn't watch it. For example, does the news make you more frustrated about life and the world? Then why are you continuing to watch it? It honestly sounds like a person who's getting abused and complains 24/7 about the abuser but continues to go back.

Also, is it making you more or less anxious about the future? How is that anxiety helping you?

Maybe try it for a week and see how you feel?

Written: September 30, 2020

Caveat: the only time I consistently listen to the news is when doing long drives. It just reminds me of drives with the family growing up. We would always listen to CBC Radio — World Report on the hour. I also used to creep but that was more to see the comments lmao

UPDATE: October 28, 2020

I've been meaning to do this for a long time but I finally sat down with my dad and watched ABC World News Tonight. My dad watches it every night at 6:30 pm EST. I always overhear it but I've been meaning to actually video it to demonstrate.

Sound on.

"Tonight, several breaking stories as we come on the air."

I don't want to watch it again but I bet you if you watched ABC World Tonight for 30 days straight, I'm willing to bet that on 20-25 of the days they start the show by saying, "New and breaking stories" or something along those lines.

My follow up question to this is, "How do you think this is going to make people feel? Specifically, do you think it's going to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) or the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight)?" Probably the latter... 😒

And, thus, people are always on edge bc they always think there's an emergency brewing.


Check out the book: "Amusing Ourselves to Death" by Niel Postman