We have made a lot of changes in the way we are living since this time last year and most of these changes have gone exactly as planned. I did not, however, expect to go from someone who tried hard to stay in touch with current events from around the world to stopping paying attention to most news altogether. I decided that this huge intake of news added very little benefit to my daily life and it took far too much time. This change in philosophy has been dramatic as back in September of last year I wrote Discussing News – An Opportunity Not to be Avoided . This was written back when I was still digesting a full plate of news each day and while I still believe that it is important to be in touch with the goings on with the world, and to discuss current events with kids, you can spend far too much time with unimportant news.
I used to watch news on TV, listen to news radio, get RSS feeds from news sites from around the globe, and even once in a while read a newspaper. This was a lot of information and how much of it was really beneficial? I knew when there were elections in Tunisia, when there was political unrest in Zimbabwe, and the details of each murder in our province. I am not saying that these stories did not affect the lives of many people; just not my life. There are very few stories that have a direct impact with me so why should I pay attention to the huge amount of news that does affect me? This does not even mention all the pointless gossip stories that infiltrate ‘mainstream news’? The point is that I could spend hours in front of the TV or behind the computer wading through story after story before I finally find one that has a direct impact on my life. After realizing this I stopped watching news on TV, I have turned off news radio except for the odd time in the car when I am stuck driving anyway, and I no longer subscribe to any news RSS feeds (RSS feeds of blogs like FamilyNavigation.com is much better anyway). I do scan the local newspapers once a week for 5 minutes but that is only to find events to take the family. I have noticed that to learn about the really big stories (like the earthquakes in Haiti & Chile) and the local news that has an impact on me, I do not have to look for it, it just finds me.
This has been a major change for me and the benefits have been noticeable. Some of these stories, usually environmental in nature, used to get me so worked up that I had trouble sleeping, and concentrating on daily tasks (like having fun). The main improvement is the amount of time I have saved as watching news, reading a few hundred RSS feeds, and reading a newspaper takes a lot of time out of a day. I know many will say that the more informed someone is the more they will seek out change, take action, and really try to make a difference. What would government be like if every citizen was informed and voted (and acted) based on this knowledge? This very true but I still think that I can avoid 99% of the news that I was paying attention to before and and make good decisions with the 1% that really has some benefit for me knowing. I get this information by scanning headlines very quickly or from word of mouth. I would argue that I am equally as informed today as I was a year ago, and I have much more time in the day for making my world a better place.