News (Forever?) Vacation
19 MAY 2021
written by Mike
In January, I published a blog post about my ‘vacation’ from social media. You can read it here. In short, last summer, I decided to delete all of my social media apps from my phone and only use them on my desktop to post podcasting news. That’s it.
No scrolling the feed, no sharing the personal stuff.
After nearly a year, I have to say that this was one of the best decisions I made in recent memory.
It took a while to get rid of scrolling addiction. Still, I completely deleted my Instagram account and only posted on my Facebook page and Twitter things to do with podcasts.
Job done. I was now a free, non-addicted person!
Or was I?
Any addiction is complex, can be behavioural or biological, or both.
Usually, what happens is that when I get rid of one addiction, I replace it with something else. The trick is to be aware of it and, if necessary, replace it with something good.
Back to the social media experiment.
Even though I stopped scrolling the feeds, I still had Reddit that I used frequently. I told myself that I only subscribed to positive topics, ones that bring some value to me.
That wasn’t true at all, and after a few months, I stopped going on Reddit altogether.
Social media is out, Reddit is out, we are free!
But I replaced it with something else. And thinking about what to replace it with, I decided to do it with funny memes and news.
I like scrolling through memes, they make me laugh. The news is something that I constantly scan every morning and throughout the day. Just to be informed. To be ‘with it’.
I had work, and in between tasks, I had my memes and news. All was right.
Then, two things happened.
I noticed that even though the memes were funny, many were designed to trigger people.
Politics, world events, social justice – whatever was in the news was quickly turned into memes.
Of course, you scroll, and when you see one, you go to the comments – and that’s when the triggering happens!
Something that was supposed to make me laugh was making me annoyed and reactive.
The second thing was more important, though.
A few weeks ago, my sister and her boyfriend visited. Once we got chatting, we started laughing about the ship that got stuck in the Suez canal and all the memes that went with it.
My sister looked at us, asking, ‘What was that about? I don’t know what happened.’
Honestly, she had no idea.
My first thought and the somewhat abrasive question was, of course, ‘How could you not know that? It was everywhere!’
She shrugged her shoulders.
This short interaction stayed on my mind that evening and the following days. My first reaction was judgmental, and of course, I thought to myself – how oblivious! Not knowing about the important events of the day!
Then I thought about why I felt that. Why did I react? And the most important – was I right or was she?
The fact was that she didn’t know because she was focused on something else – her life, her work, her passions.
That piece of information wouldn’t add any value to her life, and of course, it didn’t add any value to mine.
It was trivia, gossip, a piece of news that had no impact on my life whatsoever. And yet, it made me think that I was the informed one, the enlightened one.
The problem is, I like to know things. I want to discuss things, and I like to learn things.
However, was this news worth knowing about?
How often a piece of news added value to my life? Changed something in my life?
I can’t think of anything.
Especially now, where most news websites have to compete with social media for clicks and ads, and the content is not deep, not journalistic.
It’s clickbaity, triggering and divisive. And, of course, primarily negative because we are drawn to that kind of information.
I felt foolish for having that reaction and thinking that I was somehow informed, yet I was reading what the news media wanted me to read and see. Not objective investigative journalism.
I decided to do something that I’ve never done before. Block all the news media from my computer and not read anything for a month (at least).
I downloaded a piece of software called Cold Turkey, which blocked the meme sites and Google News, the BBC, and others I frequented.
I also made a rule that when I’m in the studio, I’m here to work.
In the past, I would sit and browse, read news, forums, or memes.
That was about to change.
Sitting at the computer was work time, and that’s it. I don’t want to sit there and waste time on things I don’t value.
When I’m done, I can read books, watch youtube (on T.V.), go for a walk, work out, etc.
But I’m not staying in the studio if it’s not for work.
And, of course, the biggest one is staying off the news entirely for a month.
Then we’ll see what happens.
I thought about paying for credible news sources like Financial Times or The Economist to satisfy the need for ‘knowing stuff’ and stay away from clickbait articles.
However, it would only replace what and how I consume news media with other sources.
Instead, I thought about what does matter in my daily life and decided that staying off all news media is still the best option. However, I have one exception, and that is podcasting news.
I will be reading the newsletters and various websites that report on the latest developments in the podcast industry.
It still counts as work rather than consumerism.
Let’s see how it goes.
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