The shocking and very sad news in Israel and Gaza this past week had me mainlining news practically 24/7.
The net result: I am very informed and also very stressed out.
Truthfully, I’ve been a news junkie my whole life. But I have to ask if it’s made a real difference to my quality of life.
And how could I stay informed in a more sane way?
Apparently, I’m not alone. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, 64% of Americans feel overwhelmed by the amount of news available.
No kidding! It definitely takes up too much space in my mind.
At its least harmful, this over-consumption triggers stress and anxiety. But at its worst, it can lead to polarized opinions that separate us from others, even friends.
So, what’s a poor news junkie who wants to stay in-the-know to do?
Mostly, it’s common sense, but I think the main thing is to set boundaries and limits on my consumption.
Do I really need to watch three news shows every evening and top it off with YouTube commentaries into the wee hours?
No, I don’t. One show would give me all I really need.
Also, it’s easy to focus on the sensational stuff that raises my hackles.
How much do I actually need to know about the day-to-day progress of Trump’s many indictments?
Well, not much. A quick headline here and there is more than enough.
And is it possible to take in a wider swath of news? I’m thinking less MSNBC and more PBS news hour. Yeah, I could do that. It’s all online.
But making these changes, while they seem simple, can be difficult. It’s easy to get caught up in the latest breaking story that feeds my addiction not only to news but to schadenfreude (pleasure derived from someone’s misfortune).
But if I cut back, I need to find a substitute that can be more rewarding and less addicting.
I know what it is. It’s readily available. I just need to create a new habit and have it replace the news addition.
What is this “miracle news replacement?”
Reading books and articles.
It’s not that these are in short supply. I have a few dozen books on Kindle I haven’t yet completed. And a ton of pdf articles.
The only thing I know for sure about consuming news vs consuming books and articles is that the former makes me feel worse; the latter makes me feel better.
After consuming news, it’s as if I’ve been eating toxic junk food. And then I don’t sleep well.
After reading, I feel as if I’d eaten a finely-prepared meal. And I sleep much more soundly.
So, one day at a time, but the plan is simple and clear:
Less News, More Reading.
That being said, I still believe it’s important to be well-informed and to consume news that is reliable and well-balanced.
Finally, I pray for peace in the Middle East. The situation is sad, dire, and tragic beyond what most of us can conceive.