I was addicted to it like it was Heisenberg’s blue meth.
I had to have it. Frequently and in solid doses. Without it for a few hours I would get withdrawal twitches. At its peak around the last decade I used to subscribe to the TOI, ET, India Today, Businessworld and listen to the BBC, CNN and NDTV. Every day. I now look back and shake my head at my own stupidity and poor judgment. Oh the waste of all those good hours. The sheer pointlessness of it all. But for the last few years I have not had cable, I haven’t really touched a newspaper or a paper magazine. And I don’t miss any of it. Oscar Wilde once cynically noted “The public has an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing” and rags like Evening Standard, Metro, TOI, Cable News and Daily Mail seem to exist to prove him very prescient.
Here is why you should give it up too: “News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier. News is bad for your health. It leads to fear and aggression, and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply. The solution? Stop consuming it altogether”. That’s Rolf Dobelli at The Guardian, which is, ironically, a British national daily newspaper. (How did the editor even allow for this to be printed? Very brave) I agree with Rolf 100% and I think I arrived at the same conclusions he did, abet less articulately and surely, and about half a decade ago. News wasn’t doing anything to me except wasting my time and stressing me out.
Luckily for me there are 3 things that can help you fill the vacuum once you swear off newspapers and TV .
2. Longform Articles (recommended via Instapaper)
Here is how I get my ‘News’ now : I follow about ~100 smart, articulate, well informed people on twitter who keep me posted on anything worthwhile in real time and with fewer words and with less of an ‘agenda’ or angle. And Longform Articles and Podcasts allow me to delve deep into a subject much better than a 300 poorly crafted editorial. A 2000 word essay allows for the talented writer to really get into the nuts and bolts of a subject. Current best example: Caravan Magazine’s fantastic essays. And when it comes to Podcasts, the well-designed Instacast app on iOS allows me to get to podcasts that are very good in quality and content. Favourites currently are NPR’s ‘Planet Money’ Podcast and Slate magazine’s ‘Culture Gabfest’.
I am going to bet the future of Twitter, Longform journalism and Podcasts is much much brighter than cable news and newspapers and I urge you to get the former three a try today. And get off the useless news meth you are addicted to.