Sunday, April 30, 2023

A news diet?

My interest in politics started when I was very young. I've participated in it, and taught about it, most of my adult life. So I follow the news. I once subscribed to, and read, Time, Newsweek, and US News & World Report every week, and both local newspapers daily. I still subscribe to The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The Telegraph (UK). The evening news, both local and national, once ordered my day. The advent of twenty-four hour news channels and internet outlets didn't help. So this is advice I should follow but probably won't:
The “news diet” part is fairly easy for me, and I’ve been doing it for maybe 2 or 3 years now. I barely read anything these days without cause. Before I read, I do a 1-second mental check and ask myself—do I need to read this? Do I want to read this? The answer to the former is almost always no. And then I move on to wanting. ....

What’s harder for me than merely not following the news is caring less about politics. In some sense, unfortunately, politics is a big part of my life. I mean, after all, I’m a political scientist. It’s not like I have a choice in the matter. But I do believe that life is elsewhere. Where exactly is elsewhere?

Here’s how I put it in the piece, with the important part bolded:
Unless you have a job that requires you to know things, however, it’s unclear what the news—good or bad—actually does for you, beyond making you aware of things you have no real control over. Most of the things we could know are a distraction from the most important things that we already know: family, faith, friendship, and community. If our time on Earth is finite—on average, we have only about 4,000 weeks—we should choose wisely what to do with it.
Family, faith, friendship, and community: the core four. We all sort of intuitively know this to be true. These are the things that matter. These are also the things that make us happy. ....
Shadi Hamid, "How to Break Up With The News," March 25, 2023.

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