I used to be annoyed when people said that they didn’t pay attention to the news.
I used to think that they were in some respects, willfully ignorant of the world around them, choosing not to participate in the stories of our time. Recently, however, I have to a degree, joined this group.
At some point, I noticed that my days were awash in information. From the moment I woke up, with NPR as my alarm clock, all day at work, in the evenings, and in the moments just before I fell asleep, I was consuming information. Whether it was the news, social media, articles on my profession, emails or television, my day was one information stop broken up by a few small breaks before another.
So I focused on what I could change.
I stopped watching and listening to the news obsessively.
I know, we live in an ever-changing world, where for the most part, we are better off connected. But honestly, the news has a way of finding YOU these days.
I don’t wake up to NPR anymore; if I want my NPR fix I use the NPR One app. I added a few notifications to my phone to ensure I get breaking news headlines, but only when really big things happen. I also subscribed to a daily briefing email newsletter. If I really want to delve into a story, I’ll make time to read about it.
What’s the change? There are a few barriers between me and the 24-hour news cycle now. To an extent, I get news on my terms now.
Most often, I only skim or don’t open the “daily briefing” newsletter I get. Notifications on my phone are few and far between. NPR One, thanks to its “Interesting” feature, is now mostly human interest stories, science, and podcasts.
My mornings begin with a polite jolt from my phone. Then my radio alarm chimes in with that whacky local station that plays the type of music you hear at conference mixers, you know, those catchy hits from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, 00’s and today. I listen to books on my commute instead of the news or sports talk.
And it’s great.
I find myself less stressed, less inclined to get sucked into a dramatic “breaking news” story that is just a retelling of what happened 4 days ago, and I’ll be honest, I FEEL better too.
So yes, I’m now the guy that I used to roll my eyes at. I think we all become that at some point in our lives. I’m not sure if it’s because we learn what matters most to us as we grow older, and want to focus more on those things instead of news that doesn’t directly impact us (or that we can’t directly impact), or if it’s just burnout.
Whatever it is, it doesn’t mean checking out. It just means being more selective about the stories I choose to get drawn into. I’d be hard pressed to find anything wrong with that.
A few changes here and there made all the difference.
Besides, on the rare occasion that it happens, there’s nothing quite like waking up to the Bee Gees’ “Staying Alive”.