When I tell people that I usually neither read nor watch the news, I’m often met with surprise. Admittedly, as a writer I have to stay on top of current events but I’ve learnt to do that without getting too immersed in the media. It was a transition starting from completely withdrawing from following mainstream media to learning to take information in without becoming too affected by it. I'm not living in a bubble. I am just selective about what I want to focus my energy on. Here are eight reasons why I feel it is not necessary to follow the news.
1) The media is filled with negativity. You'll hear more about rape, violent crimes, terrorism, natural disasters and so forth than you will about anything good or reasons to motivate you to keep going. The latter is saved for short skits at the end of the news hour, just before the weather. This can give the viewer a very obscure view of the world. It encourages fear rather than exploration.
2) Mainstream news is biased and pre-edited. Most news agencies are owned by a few major corporations. When a small group at the top owns the news, can it really be represented in a free, fair and unbiased manner?
3) Headlines are enough. I'll often read the headlines posted on the side of the road whilst driving or pick up the newspaper when visiting someone. If a headline really catches my attention, I'll look deeper into it.
4) If it's important, you’ll find out. When something creates a lot of hype, be it good or bad, people will talk. You'll hear about it. If it is "Breaking News" someone will mention it to you.
I don't need to follow the news because the people around me will always tell me. I have my own personal news reporters. Isn't that special? If I need specific information, I can do a bit of research or read niche publications.
5) Why follow the news, when you can make the news. I like that old adage. "Some people will watch the news, whilst other people will make the news." I'd rather make the news, even if it is just my news and not too many people find out about it. I'd rather live my life than follow the lives of others.
6) It sucks you in. Gossip is addictive. It is like a story. You hear the beginning and you want to follow it until the end. However, following a celebrity or politician vivaciously may mean that you'll do so your whole life. Likewise, T.V. is also addictive and much of our news comes from that tube. Wanting to fit in is also a sort of addiction. Small talk is often about politics, crime and the weather.
7) I like not knowing what the weather will be like tomorrow. I like being surprised. It sometimes leads to spontaneity, and many of life's great moments arise from that. So, I don't mind being the only person carrying an umbrella on a day the weatherman pronounced as "sunny and with clear skies". So what? I didn't know. I like my umbrella. It's a nice accessory to my walk and when I'm tired I can lean on it. Also, it can come in handy as a good weapon to defend myself if I am attacked. On the other hand, if it rains and I'm caught without it, I can follow in the steps of Gene Kelly and just start singing in the rain. If there is a storm ahead, somebody will warn me.
8) The Internet is enough. I read most news on the Internet. People will post relevant news on their Facebook profiles and re-tweet it on Twitter. The digital grapevine is effective in spreading information. Independent newscasters and blogs will give rougher and more opinionated versions but you get a real feel for the story that way.
It is nearly impossible to completely isolate yourself from the world. Nevertheless, it is needless to worry and have negative commentary and press affect you daily. Time and energy are our most precious commodities. It would be wiser to spend them on the things that we love and have a positive impact on us.