And I've long noticed a disturbing problem: People are binging on negative news media -- and just like junk food, it's time we all go on a diet from the news.
The Problem with Mainstream News Media
Please don't mistake my suggestion -- unplugging from negative news is not the same thing as being uninformed. My problem with the mainstream news is twofold:
1) It's primarily fear-based and negative, because the fear cycle drives readership up -- and since most news organizations are driven by advertising, more is better. I think this has gotten worse in recent years, most certainly since 9/11.
2) It's not filtered, so you're often wasting time consuming news that is totally irrelevant to you.
In this day and age, you can do better. Technology is your friend. I stopped watching the news five years ago, and I've yet to miss any breaking item or feel out of touch with society. You can do it, too.
You can be on a news diet, yet remain informed.
You can still remain a civilized human being and informed participant in society without diving into the mainstream news. Here are three ways you can do exactly that and remain at a safe distance from negativity.
- Flipboard and Zite are two tools I use every day to stay tapped in to the news sources that I like and that are relevant to me without being sucked into a vortex of negativity. The Zite app was recently purchased by CNN, so I don't have high hopes; you might just want to head over to Flipboard, which allows you to create your own "magazines" with content relevant and useful to you. Don't forget to add Plum Deluxe!
- The Skimm is another useful tool for your toolbelt. It is a daily newsletter that gives great news overview, as well as the founders' own take on the news. Simple, direct, no drama. I'm a huge fan of the concept and have closely followed the two gals who started the company -- they are an authentic, grassroots company, no big corporate agenda, just a desire to keep people informed in an efficient, healthy way.
- I also heartily recommend you subscribe to the Dinner Party Download, a podcast that gives you conversational tidbits for any upcoming dinner parties you are attending. I think they do a great job of helping you stay in touch with cultural news and events -- and, of course, major overarching news is featured, so it's a nice way to round out your world view.
Will you join me in taking a permanent break from the news this year?
I'd like for you to join me in taking a permanent break from the mainstream news cycle this year. No CNN hyperbole, no disaster-of-epic-proportions Weather Channel, no we're-all-gonna-die five o'clock news, no morning-news-show-that-makes-you-feel-sad.
Here's the bottom line: If any news show/broadcast/website makes you regularly feel sad, negative, or fearful -- turn it off, permanently.
Say goodbye, and embrace news sources that make you feel informed and empowered.