That's what got me to stop keeping up to date with most news a few years ago and I've been happier for it.
Being more charitable on why news is important though, news serves as modern day gossip, and gossip may play a key role in holding human societies together.
I have a more concrete example. Around the year 2000 I finished a computer science degree and was doing postgraduate in another subject. But it was getting boring and I decided to quit. My professor asked what I'd do next. I told him the plan I'd had all along - fall back on my CS degree and get a job as a programmer. What I didn't know, because I didn't read the news, was that the dot com crash had just happened and you couldn't get a job as a programmer. So I didn't, and spent a year or two unemployed.
Knowing enough to vote sensibly is a duty of a citizen. It has a direct impact on everybody’s life in a more or less diffuse way, and for many people it is a matter of life and death. You’re right though that the direct benefit to an individual’s life is on average not significant, in most cases the time could be more profitably spent on developing yourself or those around you. Although that assumes that everyone else does their duty and maintains a reasonable political environment for those opting out to live in. It’s a tragedy of the commons, individuals acting purely in their interests will over time destroy the common space, unless we impose on ourselves and others a duty to maintain it.
You can use Wikipedia instead. Look up wars, statistics about crime, cost of living, a law that you've been affected by, or whatever is important to you, as decided by you, not pushed into your head by the news. There are enough people voting according to what the TV told them is important that you're not really making things better by adding yourself to their ranks.
I guess OP doesn't need the news to figure out political candidates' positions.. or does s/he, since most political websites are just lies and empty promises. Choosing between e.g. the pro-environment or pro-coal candidate will surely have an effect on our lives in 20 years' time. Or one who wants to deploy a police state and harass all non-whites, or all "hippie weed smoker" types, etc..
I believe that improving your ability to think critically and find information quickly when you need it will benefit you infinitely more than spending that time on watching the news.
Most web news is shallow distraction, aiming at emotionalising and validating since it seems more addictive then, and I realized I stay sufficiently up-to-date without actively accessing it.
I still listen to news radio occasionally before sleep.
There's a film, though ... I don't think you had that in mind.
And numerous books:
Slightly off topic: His latest book is about avoiding distractions, featuring advice like “tell yourself that you have to burn a 100$ bill if you don’t do it”. His Twitter profile counts 54k tweets and 211k likes. Seems like his advice for app development backfired on him.
Almost all news is extremely negative - I tired of being bombarded with images of war and famine, squabbling politicians, and celebrity body-shaming. The worst of it was the futility of it - what purpose did this serve other than to anger and depress me and push me towards a particular political narrative? I can't stop the USA bombing hospitals, terrorists bombing whoever, plagues or famines; I can't fix our broken political system or prevent mass-surveillance.
I can't ignore news entirely of course - I still read HN, still see snippets on Twitter, still hear conversations etc. But stopping purposely consuming mainstream news is honestly one of the best choices I've ever made.
I don't mean a weekly summary. They have way too much shit in them and the format doesn't make sense because every week isn't equally as interesting. Ten huge things that make you look like an idiot for not knowing about don't happen every week. One just happens every so often. Send me an email then. About that one topic. Nothing happened? Don't send anything.
Ranging from glaring errors to subtle phrasing that may be technically correct, but insinuates something else, to -what I can only presume- spark outrage and thus increase “engagement”.
I can only assume similar discrepancies across every topic.
Michael Crichton - Why Speculate: http://docdro.id/4wgVecr
Don't know much about the Syrian conflict? Time to immerse myself in reading translated documents and watching videos from the ground.
Don't know much about Medicare for All? Skim some of the actual bill, read actual speeches by politicians.
It's all much more informative than reading the same news article with a slightly different spin in 5 different outlets.
As an example for a trustworthy primary source I really like the youtube channel for the dutch safety investigation board. They are a primary source as they do their own research, but the videos they produce are mostly designed to inform politicians of the result of their research. This means they are made in plain language and are easy to consume. I can heartily recommend having a look at their channel. There's plenty of videos that have an english version, mostly for internationally relevant topics.
Of course it is a state sponsored source, but as far as I can tell they have no political lean, and the only input the state has as far as I can tell is to task them with what to research. Everyone should do their own evaluation on their trustworthiness of course.
Other than that I haven't found many primary sources that I actually enjoy so if anyone has any suggestions for primary sources or ways to discover good primary sources that'd be greatly appreciated.
I highly value having subscribed to The Economist for a couple of decades now. I try to avoid real-time news and read The Economist once a week to get global news. The weekly tempo reduces the need for the publisher to rush out an opinion on something that recently happened.
I know The Economist has biases. I think I understand most of these biases and take them into account.
I wish there were similar options for local news.
For example, it’s not possible to get local news this way (unless you live in a HUGE city), because local news is selectively ignored by major publications. For special interest items (tech, travel, food, cultural things) one can add a more special interest source (like Wired, or random blogs) to your selection, but those kinds of sources are usually more difficult to get in physical, weekly or monthly form; newsletters and podcasts are a godsend here.
You can also overcome the blindspots by occasionally browsing less formal sources like Reddit and Hn, but even those can be more of a trap than it’s worth ime, and provide their own very false senses of all-knowledge.
To put it another way, the blind spot shoots both ways. I can’t enumerate all of the fascinating things I’ve learned reading those magazines that I would never have encountered any where else. I’m not sure if there’s an optimal solution here, it might be to each their own. :P
Since biase exists not only in discussion and presentation, but in selection, finding voices which are specifically counter to the Economist's mission (promotion of free market principles, as stated in its prospectus), would also be quite useful.
I'd recommend a labour/socialist counter, as well as environmental and underprivileged / non-power elite (by culture or world regions) set of voices as well.
This doesn't mean opening the floodgates, but countering groupthink.
Also, try the FT.
I know I was a lot more productive when I didn't care about the news and didn't watch any TV shows. I don't think you are a functioning adult unless you know the major goings-on of the world. People talk about the news a lot and it's important for those interactions even if it is little more than gossip. I think swapping quite a lot of the consumption of the low-quality news with books and other hobbies is something we ought to all do and spend news consumption on the higher quality publications as a decent middle ground between cold turkey and continuous consumption of nonsense.
being informed is not as valuable when there's more content out than you could consume in several lifetimes
what's valuable is how to derive any value from it
just an opinion
That is the money comment. What value per unit of time, with bad health affects from triggering tension, for news gorging.
The article is over eight years old, but in modern times, timeless advice.
News addiction is a very real sickness. Just as I would prefer my friends to maintain privacy online, I would prefer my friends to not waste their energy and power by gorging on news. Like the article said, news is to the brain what sugar is to the body.
There’s a great article from NY Times about “The America That Isn’t Polarized” people not sucked into the correct news, just doing their jobs
He said Taleb was a friend, maybe he gave permission to copy? And even if not and he stole it, how is that relevant? It’s a good long form article with a clear message that is all the more beneficial the more widely it is read.
I also think that plagiarism is a detriment for society as it presents knowledge grounded on a lie. So it poisons knowledge’s ability to help, I think.
Similarly, I'd like to know ASAP any news about government policy changes about the treatment of LGBTQIA+ people. Where would I go for that?
Really, I think the 'news diet' thing is for a specific demographic of people that aren't directly influenced by relatively subtle and potentially not-widely-disseminated news.
If you have aging parents who are on ACA, you want to be informed about any upcoming changes or what a new president cound bring to the table.
If someone you know is struggling mightily with student loans, you'll want to know if there's any relief coming soon. My skeptical SO would say, "but what's the point? Are you going to be able to change anything?" No. But it's about empathy and basic humanity. You want to know what might be in store for those that you care for, even if you can't influence the outcome one bit.
I know people that are DACA recipients. Will they be ok in the near future?
Again, I think it comes down to empathy.
The other main point is that there is no need for urgent breaking news likes it’s shoved down 24x7 nowadays. Consume your news slowly in time, newspapers were great, you get a 24 hour period to collect thoughts and read well edited and concise news only that you can pick and choose over a Nice cup of tea !!! You don’t need to know what’s happening ASAP most of the time for all other local emergencies ,weather etc perhaps alerts from local news station apps or appropriate twitter feeds can help.
I think the closest we got was in the late 90s Google was heading toward this with their “organize the world’s information and make it useful.” Then they pivoted to “organize the world’s information and make it useful to us to profit” and noticed that outrage makes more money than truth.
The author says the most important thing to happen in politics in the last 40 years is Watergate. You could even go without knowing what that was and do just fine.
Intermittent fasting from political and financial news is a good thing. Business news and sci/tech news are more positive and stimulating anyway.
And following politics only during elections is also wrong advice. It's enough to follow issues weekly or monthly, not daily. Following politicians is less important than following the issues.
The problem is that the public doesn't have the attention, interest or background to address more than a small number of issues. The issues that they do address are not necessarily important ones, but ones that the editorial boards of mass media think will attract eyeballs and sell ad space. The discussion is then led by special interest groups that are funded by interested parties. The result is a lot of heat among some narrow segment of the population but not much useful work.
The manufacturing of consent has been going on since the corporate monopolisation of newspapers in the early 20th century, but arguably news media has always had an agenda.
Before they were killed off I’m sure the labour class media organisations had an agenda that was pro-labour class.
You can never really escape agenda driven media you just have to be a knowledgeable, critical media consumer so you can derive information even from those with antagonistic agendas.
For example, Chomsky still thinks it’s important to read The New York Times and check out CNN.
When important truths can be partial truths, then -- as with the posted article -- we can be bold in their statement.
Almost everything in the news is here today gone tomorrow and as the article points out, what seems important nearly never is.
In the words of Rob Wiblin, news media today is a dumpster fire.
"Heatter was already well known for trying to find uplifting but absolutely true stories to feed his commentaries. (He was especially known for a fondness for stories about heroic dogs.)"
What if the house really is in fire and we all just want to be in denial about it by conveniently ignoring news? We’d rather work on the familiar: our own wealth and personal fulfillment than face the real problems out there?
I don’t doubt the clickbait attention grabbing monstrosity is real, but what if the horrifying nature of the reality is more important for for us to know than our mental health? What if we need to focus on the crises society faces rather than our own personal needs?
That may inform others and possibly even change their minds on important issues.
So even if you're not out there marching in protests or volunteering for your favorite political organization, you can still make a difference by informing others.
The effect of this is evident on HN, which used to be almost exclusively a navel-gazing tech and startup news site, but has over the years become more politically aware.
I believe that things like the recent tech employee moves towards unionizing, and various protests at companies like Google are partially motivated by information employees at these companies received on sites like HN, where important political topics are discussed and people are informed.
Sticking one's head in the sand by ignoring news makes it less likely that you'll ever be motivated to do anything yourself and less likely you'll help motivate anyone else to act either.
Wouldn't that imply that we don't live in a democracy and ppl are picking boxes at random at the ballot box?
2) If we're going the informed-voter justification, we'd be much (for large values of "much") better off if everyone took 99% of the time they spend on news and instead read foundational works and textbooks in political science, economics, comparative politics, ethics, statistics, history, and government in [home country], with maybe a smidge of modern policy pieces (e.g. think-tank stuff, policy studies, that kind of thing).
Is that what the article is discussing though?
One of my close friend coming out as gay in high school has had a larger effect on who I have voted for during my lifetime than any news.
Is it not possible that by spending less time/energy on the sensationalism of corporate news, we can spend more time and energy observing, contemplating and addressing the actual problems in the world?
Not reading the news does not equate to ignoring what’s going on around you.
Reading the news does not necessarily help the trampled.
> Get off your high horse.
no need to be rude here.
It takes active measures to not hear about what’s new. No one here is advocating that.
Researching an issue is not “reading news”. Debating current events is not “the news”. Understanding the world is not “the news”. Going on strike is not “the news”.
It’s craving the next hit of shallow information that is poison.
Article doesn't define news as such. He estimates that about 10% of news is legitimate.
> Debating current events is not “the news”
So.. your "debates" are "deep" and everything else is "shallow".
Get off your high horse.
No need to be rude here, either.
Its possible he doesn't have such ridiculous self identity. correct ? In which case my comment was not rude.
No. It's pretty clear that if you read any of article at all, you didn't read beyond the first few paragraphs. Please in the future refrain from sharing your opinion on articles you didn't even read.
It's also pretty clear that discussing this further would be pointless. Perhaps because you've formed part of your identity around being someone who consumes the news, so any attack on that idea, you take as a personal attack. ;)
But deciding to opt out entirely is kind of like dropping out of high school because you won the lottery. Can you get away with it? Maybe, for a while. Are you ignorant because if it? Of course.
I stopped consuming news years ago.
The only way it reaches my conscious is if:
1) friends or family mention something (or anyone else within my social circle). Fair game. This helps me understand their thinking patterns too. Very helpful to see what they find important.
2) retweets. If I'm following someone who is retweeting low quality news I immediately block.
I don't feel anxious, when I go to the barbers and everyone is staring at the TV in the top corner, it reminds me of why I stopped.
Gyms are evil that play general trashy news on TV.
On the whole, you are not ignorant if you don't consume the news, not by any standard.
Don't believe that one bit.
P.s great handle.
Agreed about the TVs. I never understood why so many places have it running in the background all day long.
I don't mean this in an insulting way, but aren't you ignorant (by definition) of current events if you don't read/hear about them?
99% is irrelevant
Generally crap stuff
Chips away on your perspective
Better to vet individual publications and consume at really moderate rates, for example, the economist, pointed out in the paper.
Why is the medium of acquisition of news important here, seems like an irrelevant distinction. How can one be 'Ignorant of current events' if he is acquiring said current events through coworkers/locals.
This is precisely what I was referring to in my original comment. Not everyone has the privilege to leave safety of their family to random happenstance local interactions. eg: My wife's grand parents are on greencard and unenrolled themselves from one govt service based on recent news about being a public charge. Some ppl are constantly on the edge to leave it to 'local interactions'
> if it matters to my family/community/area I’ll hear about it from local interactions.
Reading only relevant news is still reading news.
Anything that will impact your life will be filtered through.
How are you so sure it will ? It might not. correct?
It’s surely possible that something could occur that has repercussions for your life, to where you would have preferred to be aware of it ahead of time. But I can only think of 1 time in my 40 years when that’s happened with any significance. Hardly worth making myself an anxious wreck trying to constantly “be informed”. No matter how diligent one tried to keep pace, you’d never be certain of catching everything anyway.
Far easier to see the bull for what it is when you’re not acclimated to being deceived 99% of the time.