I’ve taken a media vacation this week and it was great

I have taken a week off from the news and Reddit and really enjoyed myself.

Strongly consider taking a media vacation, especially if you are stressed out. Watching the evening news or reading the morning paper can make an informed citizen, but the internet lets us get way too much news. The Internet allows us to check the news every 15 minutes. This uses up our mental bandwidth, distracts us from tasks at hand, and makes us feel powerless.

Staying informed is important. The amount of information I should take in is defined by my responsibilities. Not all information is useful or strategic in my life. My real responsibility is limited to holding my elected officials accountable. Beyond that, detailed political knowledge (for example) is irrelevant to my life and should be a small part of my information intake.

I also try to recognize that most news will be entirely irrelevant within a week. Following a geopolitical conflict on a day to day level does not make me a better citizen. Following the same issue on a week by week basis is more than enough. It might be necessary for a military commander to follow the conflict on a minute by minute level. It might be necessary for a journalist to follow the conflict on a daily basis. For those of us not in those positions, a weekly summary is quite sufficient. I am trying to cut back on media and obsess about my projects. Mostly, the news is just a form of procrastination. I try to think carefully about the context of my life but it is foolish to devote endless hours to political analysis or prediction.

Just as an exercise, if you are a frequent blog and news reader, try taking this week off with me. Read books and work on your projects. Install leachblock and lock out all of the sites that want your eyeballs. I catch myself trying to go to Google News and Reddit a few times a day out of habit. But, strangely, I’m not missing the actual reading at all. A week away from my usual online haunts has reminded me of just how addicting they are. Whether it’s Fox or Huffington, neither is helping anyone get their work done. Both are saying “stay home, don’t act, stay tuned for more outrage.” News is to getting things done what pornography is to being in a relationship.

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