Stop reading the news.

Hi Past Mike,

Future Mike here.

First things first: “Fake news” is not a word in your time and I’m not talking about absurd conspiracy theories. Also, I’m not talking about truth and opinion or about any political agenda that might or might not be forced in the media you consume.

Let’s assume all news is correct and objective.

You should still stop consuming it.

Let me explain.

The news is not educational

Being educated means being taught something. It generally means acquiring a skill. When you had an education you can do something you couldn’t do before. This is not true for the news. Instead, you are feed information without much relation.

Informative is not always a good thing

The news is informative. It feeds you information about the world. This sometimes is a good thing, if the information presented is giving you a good abstraction of the world around you and is used to gain an advantage.

The news is not giving a good abstraction of the world. Its goal is to be read by as many people as possible and that leads to something called negativity bias. (source) Basically negative emotion and experiences are more important to our brain. Maybe because reacting to a lion is more important than reacting to a beautiful flower when survival is at stake? No idea. But you know its true as bad news, catastrophes, murders, wars and accidents dominate the news and don’t fail to get your attention.

The problem is: these bad events are not as common as the news makes you believe. For example, a plane crash is very spectacular. But its a rare event. Flying is getting safer from year to year. We have more planes in the air than 30 years ago, but much fewer deaths by plane crash. (source) All the major crashes are in the news. Flying is incredibly safe compared to its image pictured in the news.

But that’s only half of the mess. Not only is all the news bad in creating a picture of the world. The general information provided is pretty much useless.

Never has the news given you any information that gave you an advantage in life, made you a better person or helped you reach your goals. It is useless.

Maybe you should know who is president. On the other hand, you could read about that specifically. Getting flooded with useless information is a waste of time. Most of it is outdated soon and all of it is useless to your career, relationships and general life.

Reading the news makes you angry and miserable

Negativity bias keeps you reading. Getting your brain flooded with the cruelest murders, the most imminent disasters, the most stupid politicians(Fasten your seatbelt. You have seen nothing yet.) isn’t going to make you a happy person.

Yes, there are horrible things happening in the world. But they are not what builds the real world. Most things the media declares as doom for you and anyone are not as dangerous as they make it seem. If you want to prevent danger watch the statistics, not the news. If you need information: read about the topic in a book or other places that are designed to provide specific information. Don’t just flip mindlessly through the mess that is created to keep you reading.

Also: never read the comments below the news articles. People tend to only write comments on topics they have strong opinions about. Strong opinions are mostly held by the clueless.

It needs a lot of knowledge to have a well-founded opinion and most people lack that especially on the topics they have the strongest opinions about. But that’s a whole new topic. Just avoid them.

All that negative stuff, all that stupidity you might encounter will lead to you being angry and miserable. And that for no gain at all.

Most of the news is entertainment

I guess all of that isn’t going to stop you. Maybe that’s ok. But keep it to a minimum. Limit it like you would all entertainment: computer games, TV etc.

It is cheap entertainment. An act that can just be filmed without the need to stage it. You are presented with something that creates emotion but doesn’t teach you anything. There is no way to react to most of the information. Some of it induces fear, anger, rarely joy. But most of the events are so far out of your reach that it could be fictional and wouldn’t make any difference.

 

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