Sometime in 2018, I decided I was done watching the news. No TV news, no checking the Internet for news, no news satire, nothing.
I thought I’d become out of touch. What actually happened was that I became more productive, happier, and I was still up to date.
Let’s get into why this happened, and why you should consider quitting news for good.
1) People Will Tell You The Big News
Staying up to date was how I justified my need to watch the news. In reality, you don’t actually need to watch the news to be aware of what’s going on.
Coronavirus? Yeah, I heard. The stock market tanked? Very aware. The weather’s bad? Yep, got that too.
The first topic of conversation that comes up with most of my co-workers or friends is the news. If something big happens, it’s impossible not to hear about it from somebody (believe me I’ve tried).
Because of this, you’ll be just as up to date as you were before. And there’s an added benefit! Talking about the news with co-workers will go from agony to mildly entertaining.
2) Most News Isn’t Important in Any Way Whatsoever
I’m writing this blog post on March 10th, 2020. How about we check CNN.com for the biggest headlines.
- Biden and Sanders go head-to-head in six Super Tuesday II states
- See stark contrast between Trump and expert on coronavirus
- US, Canadian jets intercept Russian plane
- Walmart confirms coronavirus in one of its stores
With the magic of Google, you’re probably not reading this on the day I wrote it. Which is perfect for this test. How did these stories age? Do you still talk about them in the future?
The answer is “hell no.” I do think Coronavirus will still be a big deal in the future, but even with that lucky cop-out, you’ll completely forget the small stories related to it. The same is true of almost all news. Maybe you’ll remember the big-picture that took place over months or years but you’ll forget the small stuff.
3) Most “News” Isn’t News, It’s Fear/Anger Porn
Local news is the lowest form of news. Odds are that somebody near you committed some horrific crime recently. The local news will flap back and forth between that crime and the weather.
Oh, but you’re a savant who watches the national news? That’s no better. You’ll be watching the most depressing thing that happened in politics, war, stocks, and health today. Whatever’s going to scare the shit out of you or anger you the most will be what’s on.
Which kind-of makes it porn, not news.
Hear me out. Porn’s goal isn’t to educate you or to make you a better person. It’s to get a rise out of you and get you to come back tomorrow. Does this not sound familiar to the news’ business model?
Targeting anger or fear over your urge to see naked people is really the only difference between porn and the news. The only other difference is if my co-workers couldn’t shut up about the latest porno they watched, the office would be much more fun.
4) Feeling Angry and Scared Shitless All The Time is Bad For You
I know that sounds obvious, but I feel like a lot of people don’t realize what the news is doing to them.
The news has the goal of making you feel pissed off or to scare the shit out of you. And it’s good at it. When the news tells me how my government is screwing me, spying on me, and generally being incompetent, I get mad. When they say we’re about to go to war with Iran, it’s fear and anger.
When you stop watching the news, you realize that you just feel a lot better. None of this stress is in your life. Less stress will make you happier.
5) The News Isn’t Actionable
I know what you’re saying, “Shaun, people have to watch the news so that we don’t go to war with Iran.”
And, is that actually true? On a macro scale, if everybody stopped paying attention to what the government did, they’d be doing a lot more terrible stuff. But, on a micro-scale?
You watching the news does not impact what happens in any way whatsoever. You might as well say, “I have to watch the news so a meteor doesn’t strike the Earth.” A meteor striking the earth would be bad. Still, you being on the lookout doesn’t have any bearing on whether or not that actually occurs.
6) Not Watching the New is a Huge Time-Saver
I used to watch the national news for an hour per night. Then on top of that, I’d listen to a podcast or two per week, and view a handful of news articles online every day. I’d also tune into political satire like Bill Maher, John Oliver, or Jon Stewart.
Add that up. That’s at least a couple hours a day of the news being on my brain. Time that I got back to work on my business when I stopped watching.
And I don’t even consider past-me as a heavy news watcher. Some people tune in for longer than this.
7) The News Doesn’t Have a Very Big Impact on Your Life
Name the last news story that actually affected your life. I can think of a couple for me.
- Coronavirus – People panicked over it, canceled trips, the stock market tanked, etc.
- The Government Shutdown(s) (Only because I worked for a Government contractor at the time)
…. That’s really it. I almost listed Republican tax cuts and Obamacare. But those only had a tiny financial impact on my life. And ObamaCare happened 11 years ago, not exactly breaking news.
The point is that in the last 11 years, I can only think of a handful of news stories that actually touched me in real life.
8) Tons of Cool Stuff Happened That the News Didn’t Cover
In 2016, Elon Musk’s company SpaceX landed a rocket for the first time.
The national news mentioned it in passing. But, the biggest story of the day was the crazy Tweet sent out by then Presidential candidate Donald Trump.
When you watch the news, you miss the actual news. We landed a god damned rocket! This will make launching satellites orders of magnitude cheaper. Which will make global wifi in poor countries life Africa something that’s going to happen.
**THIS WAS A BIG EFFING DEAL! **
And the news barely covered it. They were more interested in the tweets of an insane person.
9) #FakeNews is Real
Well, #FakeNews isn’t actually real. But, there is news that makes it onto the “real news” that has never touched reality.
This is very true online, where it’s hard to know what articles are based on reality. But, it’s also true in the mainstream. The news tends to have a faceless Republican and a Democrat yell at each other for 20 minutes while you watch. The stuff they say contradicts; much of it is flat out false.
None of this is information that’s valuable to you. So stop watching it.
10) Political Satire is Also News
At least with political satire, you get to laugh.
However, the satire shows have become news themselves. In some cases, their reporting seems to be more thorough than actual news networks. They have the advantage of people being willing to watch boring subjects because they tell jokes during it.
If you want to watch this for the humor, that’s great. But, it suffers from all the same failings listed above. It takes up time, it’s designed to make you angry, it’s not actionable, the list goes on.
11) The World Has Gotten Much, Much Better
If you watch the news, you probably feel like this must be the worst time in history. It seems like all news is bad news and every day is the worst day of our lives.
But the reality? The reality is that most things are better than they were 30 years ago. Here are a few things that have happened over the past 30 years.
- War deaths are down. (That’s right even with Syrian Genocide more people were dying 30 years ago over this crap.)
- Death from disease is way down (Pending coronavirus). (Thank-you modern medicine and mosquito nets in Africa)
- Global Poverty is way down (Thank-You Globalization)
- Virtually all forms of crime in the US (and most countries) is down significantly vs. 30 years ago.
- We have cell phones, tablets, the Internet!
I could go on. Most things have gotten better over the past 30 years. You’d never realize that by watching the news.
So join me and stop watching the news today. Get out there and better your life instead of basking in anger/fear that you can’t control.