May 31, 2015

Turn Off The News - Turn On Your Brain

Since changing our news consumption habits we have been enjoying more music.

In my post "I Quit" I talked about the simplicity of subtracting things that no longer make sense in our lives. A reader left a comment with what I think is the secret to successful quitting, and implementing positive lifestyle changes. Question Everything. All The Time.

He said, "Over the years, I have quit a lot of things I previously took for natural. The most important part is becoming aware that something you have been brought up to accept as unquestioned is a rather strange habit. I now question everything in my everyday life. What do I do this for? Do I need it?"

It has been 3 weeks since Linda and I asked these very questions about our news consumption habits. Our answer was to quit by implementing a news fast. Cold turkey. We went from checking several newspapers from across the country and the globe daily (or even several times a day) to nothing.

Surprisingly easy, our news fast has provided a space of peace and tranquility that we felt was missing from our lives lately. We replaced the time we would have spent obsessing over newspapers in healthier pursuits, like music or stretching or reading a novel or baking or cleaning or visiting a neighbour. Or doing nothing.

I don't know if no news is good news, but I am pretty sure that too much news is bad news. Going forward our news consumption will be far more limited, selective, and independent/alternative vs mainstream media.

Turn off news. Turn on your brain. And Question Everything.


  1. Anonymous6/01/2015

    I admire your decision. To succeed in "cold turkey" withdrawal, you have to be really disgusted by something, and I feel the same about the news media. "I am sure that I never read any memorable news in a newspaper..." Thoreau already knew that. The news business today, as in in his time, is a business; newsmen are not warriors for truth and freedom, they just want your subscription money, your ad revenue, your clicks. News are manufactured for meaningless excitement and - at a more sinister level - to imbue you with the illusion of participating in society. ("[TV News] does not inform but confirm", Horkheimer famously said.) I gave up news consumption gradually some months ago and don't regret it.

    1. Thanks for your comments on this topic - they have helped us put our news fast into perspective. We want to be informed, but not obsessed. We also don't want to be exposed to for-profit lies and government propaganda, or the violence perpetrated by them.

      Great quotes.

      "Most of the press is owned by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics." - George Orwell

  2. Anonymous6/01/2015

    I also gave up the news and haven't missed it! Several years ago, I read a suggestion to stop watching / reading news on Leo Babauta's blog, Zen Habits. He made a compelling case, and I gave it a try. I haven't regretted my decision. I find that when something significant occurs, I hear about it. And of course, if I'm really wondering about an event or issue, I can always find out through any number of sources. I agree that our household is much more peaceful without the constant feeds of news programs and the sensationalism that accompanies them.

    1. Fantastic. We are with you and Leo. I am enjoying creating new more healthy boundaries for myself. You can't unsee that stuff, and like advertising, it corrupts our thought patterns whether we realize it or not.

  3. Anonymous6/01/2015

    This is what is so nice about the Internet. I don't have to watch the TV news or listen to radio news to get to the weather report, which is usually all I am interested in. I can just look it up on one of many weather websites and stay clear of news. And I agree - the significant news will find its way to me somehow. But our household is not on a news fast; my boyfriends likes to listen to National Public Radio, so that does filter into my brain. - Mary

    1. Mary,

      The weather is fair game, and like you say, the internet does weather well. However, I'm wondering when they are going to start including a Weather Modification Report. Not holding my breath.

  4. Anonymous6/02/2015

    Love the article and the comments.I read local free news,old fashion I know but it is interesting to see whats going on in a small town that is once a week.
    I like doing nothing ,staying on the boat and Flying a kite.Saffron(australia)

    1. Saffron,

      Our local free newspaper is great, and contains most of the news that matters day to day in our little community.

      I didn't bring our kites with us when we moved, but we live in a place that always has a dependable breeze and would be perfect for kite flying. Thanks for reminding me of flying one.

      Linda and I took my dad kite flying a short while before he died. He sat in a lawn chair in the middle of a grassy field, held on to the string and looked up smiling and loving it. Precious moment.

  5. Anonymous6/02/2015

    Well, thanks for that! I am glad to find that a news fast has suited you. After I made a comment the other day, I thought that the other thing you don't get when you don't buy "hard copy" newspapers is all the damn advertising. I try and filter advertising from my life as much as I can. When I do read a paper on the odd occasion I am astonished to find how much stuff is being peddled to me. Obnoxious. I have been re-reading Jennifer Kavanagh's book "The World is our Cloister". In it she asked "why is what is new so important? More important than what is unchanging? Papers, radio and TV are obsessed by 'news'. What is news? An editor's view of what people need to know, usually in the narrow context of national interest with a dash of celebrity. The emphasis is on 'bad' news, on the negative: we know of man's inhumanity to man: it was ever thus; we need to work with the underlying issues, to concentrate not on the details of every occurrence, but on the changing of consciousness." Do others agree with this view? Frances from the UK

    1. Frances,

      Thanks for the prompt/comment. I like 'unchanging'. Let's explore some of that. Self-awareness and changing consciousness is exactly what the powers that be are trying to avoid. Therefore endless distractions and entertainments. Love that quote.


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