People will often tell you that reading the news is a good idea. It’ll keep you informed, they say, and leave you more equipped to make sensible decisions about the world.
But what if it won’t, and all of that is lies? What if all news, to a greater or lesser extent, is fake news?
Here are five reasons Lunacy Now thinks you should close down your RSS feed and just walk away.
1.It’s a Colossal Waste of Time
How many hours do you spend reading articles, watching videos or listening to political podcasts? How many different news outlets do you check frequently? How many do you check constantly? Have you ever watched a 24 hour news channel for so long that the same stories start looping round again?
Now ask yourself if this is a valuable use of your time. Add it all up and see how long you spend doing this daily, weekly and monthly.
Could you have used that time better doing something else? Like learning an instrument, having sex, getting hammered or eating skittles by the fistful? We bet you could have used that time more productively.
2.It Makes You Crazy
Too much news can damage the mind. You can give yourself vicarious post-traumatic stress disorder by watching too many videos of news events. You can find yourself restless, distracted, overwhelmed and depressed, all over things that happened perhaps thousands of miles away and which you had no part in. It can even increase the amount of negativity you perceive in the world in general.
This isn’t to say that terrible events on the other side of the world don’t matter. But is it worth sharing in that trauma by making yourself crazy into the bargain?
3.You Can’t Change Any of It
The only time you can reasonably expect to have an impact on whatever the news you are reading about is, is on election day. The rest of the time, you are just a spectator. Now, in the case of broader issues there are certain things you can change in your everyday life to make a difference. You could cut down on your plastic bottle use, let’s say, and buy a reusable bottle, or switch to using biodegradeable disposable cutlery. If you’re passionate about an intrenched societal issue that requires sustained public pressure to bring about change, like the anti-police brutality movement, it may make sense to join a mailing list that keeps you up-to-date with demonstrations in your area.
But keeping track of every single shooting? Following press conferences in real time? How much of a difference is investing that time watching and finding out that information going to make to your ability to impact the situation?
We bet not a lot.
4.It Doesn’t Make You Smarter
What do you think is going to give you a better understanding of an issue: reading the news on that topic everyday for a year? Or using that year to read several high quality books and journals on the topic? It’s clearly the second one.
The reason for that is twofold. Firstly, most news only gives you a specific event, in isolation, without plugging you into the broader context. Secondly news producers have to assume ignorance, so each new article or video clip is going to give you the same basic information again and again, without taking you deeper into the topic.
By contrast, reading in-depth books and studying the ideological, scientific, historical and geographical factors that underlie a particular problem can really give you a solid grounding in a topic that you just wouldn’t be able to get from reading the paper.
5.It May Well Be Complete Bullshit Anyway
Writers are expected to turn around large amounts of work in very short spaces of time. There may only be a few hours between a news event taking place and an article going up on a website about that event. The writer may know the subject well and be familiar with the background to the story. Or they may not, and simply Google around until they find something that sounds plausible enough. They may be cribbing from Wikipedia for all you know.
Part of this has to do with structural issues in journalism: namely no one is paying for news anymore so revenue is dependent on advertising clicks. This means major media outlets are forced to produce the most sensational content possible in order to maximize views for revenue, rather than producing something nuanced and detailed.
Not only that, but we don’t really know what’s going on anyway. For the first 24 hours after any given incident, it’s reasonable to assume that the facts have not been properly gathered yet. But the news has to keep coming out, so coverage will be produced regardless of whether or not it’s accurate.
Reading the news incessantly isn’t worth it. You have a limited number of hours on this earth. Make them count doing something that improves your life. Like reading our helpful, inspiring and motivational content.