A while back I made the decision to try and not expose myself to news delivered by the standard news media. Standard news media might be a too broad term to use, but I am specifically thinking of the six-seven-eight-o-clock news, the ad-sponsored sites (that are becoming tabloids for the masses), the content sponsored sites promoting the latest trend etc. Those quick fixes and glimpses into a world observed through the looking glass of big economic and political interests don’t appeal to me.
The tricky bit is that many, or most, of the times it is hard for the general public to know what is reasonable and what is less reasonable. The articles are then without a critical approach re-posted straight onto social media turning those channels into overfilled trash-bins for un-researched news and political agendas.
I just had enough of all that. On my part I felt the exposure limited my curiosity, reduced my interest in further research, it made me full without really having eaten anything but air.
These are my observations of little more than a year into not using them in the way I did before. I will divide it up into a couple of posts such as TV, paper media and online media, starting with the TV.
First thing the TV got kicked out. It was never really used for anything than video games and on-demand documentaries, series and movies. I do appreciate all of the above, I grew up with games and many times consider them better story tellers than books. But that’s a separate subject.
The thing with the regular news reporting is that it can create a habit, a habit that lacks questioning and reasoning as most bad habits do. Morning coffee? Well then, time for the morning news. It is on most of the channels anyway and many times we’re just exposed to it, without questioning it. Then you arrive at work and heated lunch time debates about the war in Syria, where perhaps most of the debaters have glimpses of news reports, instead of spending some time with this article for example. And even though the length of many of the readings might put people off, it won’t take that much longer when you got the new routine going.
There was another reason for getting rid of the TV, I must admit. We were going to move between countries, so in a more or less impulsive decision me and my girlfriend got rid of most of the belongings we had. Meaning the furniture (we travel around quite a bit), much of the clothes, most electronic equipment not needed for work, too many cables to count and some weird looking spaceman in porcelain I got one time in Amsterdam.
It turned out to be a positive thing for well-being, curiosity and productivity.
What I do instead of TV and mainstream news:
- I read a lot more. Mostly e-books, audio books and online in-depth articles which is usually where I get an understanding of what is going on in the world, more on this next time. Started a goal at Goodreads set at 40 books in 2016, got a secret ambition to read two a week, but will probably struggle with that. 😉
- The audio books added another bonus as well. I liked walking before, but now I walk even further. Just one more chapter is more of a motivator than a couple of extra songs when it comes to slower activities in my case.
- I write more and I feel like I am improving through reading, especially as English is not my first language and I mostly read English material. I’m often listening to music using Soundcloud (trying out an OSX desktop app for Soundcloud btw) and Hypemachine while writing.
- Started with some MOOCS as well, massive open online courses, just sampling some different areas of interests such as light neuroscience and sustainable cities.
The above activities don’t take up that much spare time if you don’t want them to, it’s quite flexible. The studies accumulate 4-6 hours per week when it’s not assignment week, audio books on the commute, articles (a hefty backlog in Pocket) in the mornings before work, books before bed etc.
During day-ish time I manage more than a full time job, which does result in some late nights and early mornings. But for now it works out, you need to prioritise. Plus it also helps a lot that I have a supportive girlfriend (Instagram). 🙂
Lately I focus quite a bit on the pomodoro technique, 25 minutes work, 5 minute break etc. Going write some more on that in the future, got some nice tools I am trying out. But that’s a different story in a few months!
What are your experiences, have you tried anything similar? Let me know in the comments!