Stop following the news
You won't believe what happens next
I was halfway through my plate of brisket when I looked up and saw it. This was no ordinary tee-shirt, it was an omen.
It was one of those balmy December days that you take for granted when you live in Texas. My wife and I were enjoying a bite to eat at The Salt Lick, home of the world’s best barbecue. I anticipated the food tasting great (it always does), but I didn’t expect a side of divine inspiration.
“Look at that man over there…the dad with the family,” I said with some urgency, gesturing with my chin. She snuck a quick glance.
“What is it…he looks sort of gruff? They did order a lot of food…”
“No, no…his tee-shirt.”
To the untrained eye, it was a $15 screen-printed slogan tee from Walmart. The kind you see on the guy who drives the too-loud Camaro and has a sign on his front door that tells you his house is protected by Smith & Wesson. Everyone else saw a dumb “Dad Joke.” I saw an exhortation.
It had been in the back of my mind for months. What if I just…stopped following the news? I tried paring back my intake before, thinking I could allow for a couple of blogs to “stay informed.” But these carefully considered webpages always led to mission creep. Two sites quickly became 20. And suddenly I was back on a binge diet of junk information.
We live in the trench warfare era of news. Infotainment products fight to keep your eyeballs on the screen by any means necessary. Look at what this person you’ve never met said about that thing you didn’t know you cared about. Get angry. But also please click our increasingly strange ads. Doctors Hate Him.
Like the archangel Gabriel, this Chevy driver arrived with a message: news will break and you won’t care.
I stopped following the news on January 1st. For the next two months I was riding something akin to a Hype Cycle. The initial high faded and I entered the trough. But rather than disillusionment, what I found was a void. It can shock you how much time you spend reading or watching things that have absolutely no bearing on your life.
Through the power of will (and some web filtering software), I made it up the slope of enlightenment and onto the plateau of productivity. And productive it has been.
Good ideas come to me with greater frequency and I have the energy to act on them. I’m rediscovering old hobbies and diving back in. Conversations with friends, family, and even strangers have transformed into wonderful and fulfilling things. I’m happier and people have taken notice.
The void has become a halo.
Stop following the news. It will continue to break, but you’ll be enjoying yourself too much to care.