Disconnect/Reconnect

In my first blog here, I mentioned that I’ve stopped consuming news media of all kinds (print, TV, online, apps). I also stopped looking at weather reports. I started this some months before closing my business and taking time off, but I went cold-turkey at that time (late December 2017).

In part, I was inspired by a blog about The Low Information Diet, which gives the author’s unique perspective on why one should give up the news. It’s an entertaining read.

This is my own experience of going cold-turkey on news and weather:

At first, it was very uncomfortable. Alarmed voices in my mind chastised me for being ignorant, stupid, privileged, and not caring about the world. The voices also warned of risks, such as being unable to participate in conversations about current events, missing out on critical news, and losing touch with the world.

Regardless, I gave it a try – after all, it wouldn’t be difficult to go back.

But I never went back. Here’s why:

  1. There is always someone around to tell me about important things going on. They tell me directly or I overhear things in social situations. If it seems interesting or important to me, then I’ll look it up for myself.
  2. “News” is an oxymoron – it’s already happened. Even “live-news” coverage is pointless. All I can do is watch or listen to it unfold, which does not make me a better person or a smarter person.
  3. History continues to repeat itself; humans continue to fail in the same ways. “News” wasn’t making me any smarter or more aware. If anything, it overwhelmed me and I would shut down.
  4. Weather reports are more often useless than not. In many months of not looking at a single weather report, I was caught off guard exactly once, and I’m pretty sure the meteorologists were surprised that day, too. Even when bad weather is predicted or happens, it doesn’t change my plans. I’m Canadian, after all.
  5. News and weather and the consumption of them are categorically, 100%, in no way correlated with intelligence or one’s contribution to society.
  6. Being ignorant of news and weather has not depleted my ability to engage in great conversations. In fact, it’s helped lead to deeper conversation and connection because I can’t make small talk. What I care about more than current events is why the people close to me care about them.

This article about The Man Who Knew Too Little refers to the opinions that disconnecting from media has a moral cost, but I’m not experiencing that.

With the time I freed up not consuming news and weather, I started to monitor the news and weather within myself.

Every morning, I take stock of my mindset and my body’s needs. This has proven infinitely more valuable in helping me navigate the world, connect with others, and be a contributing member of society.

News & weather rehab

Take a two-week no-news-or-weather challenge. It’s just an experiment. You can always go back.

The brain is wired to be lazy (generously referred to as “efficiency” by neuroscientists), so unless you’re proactive you’ll probably find yourself scrolling through news without even realizing it. To give this exercise a fair shot, do these things:

  1. Remove all news and weather apps on your mobile device.
  2. Remove all news and weather websites from your bookmarks or browser’s home page.
  3. On Facebook, Instagram, etc. unsubscribe to any news media outlets you may be following.
  4. Unsubscribe to any news/weather emails you may be signed up for.
  5. Create a new routine to replace your current news-and-weather habit.

For example, if you usually consume news in the mornings, do a half-hour workout, meditate, or start morning journalling instead.
Or, if you currently consume news while eating, set up lunch dates, go for walks, or read e-books instead.
If you listen to news in the car, switch to an audio book, music, or complete silence.
I guarantee that any and every one of those activities will be more fulfilling and productive than consuming news and weather.

Brain science tells us it takes at least 2 months to change habits, so if you like the initial results, give it another couple of months and see how things go.

Resources

Articles about disconnecting from news media:

Very effective, efficient at-home workouts from HAS Fit

Author Tim Ferriss on why he does morning journalling

 

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