N is for News
Where do you get your news?
Cable TV? Newspapers? Magazines? Digital sources or print? Podcasts? Satellite radio? YouTube? Social media?
And, are you a news junkie?
If you're a news junkie, then stop reading right now. Nothing I write will apply to you. You will continue to consume every tidbit of information on news topics of interest to you, so there really is no simplifying your life regarding the news. And you're probably okay with this assessment because you derive pleasure from being a news junkie.
For the rest of us who would like to be informed, but not continuously depressed and in some state of panic over something mundane, consider how much time you're devoting to the news.
Do you feel like being informed is beneficial to you? Are you motivated more out of feelings of obligation? Is consuming the news distracting you from other goals and pursuits?
Last year leading up to the U.S. Presidential election, my pleasure reading decreased because my news intake rose steadily (as did my blood pressure). I'm still not sure my news reading and consuming was worth my time, especially at the cost of my leisure time.
I decided to take action regarding how I consume the news.
1. Set limits.
Start setting limits for how much time you will spend on the news.
Maybe you spend more time one day than another. Maybe you vary up by medium. On certain days you read the newspaper or online news, and on other days, you watch certain programming.
Try to stick to your time limit so you still leave time for doing the things that you really want to do.
2. Rotate through your news sources.
Who do you trust for your news?
Who does the opposition trust?
Are there other alternate voices out there who may have interesting or differing perspectives?
Put those sources in rotation. Don't try to ingest all of the news everyday. You'll just get sick. A good chunk of what's out there is repetitive anyway.
Some days you may focus on certain sources. Other days you may focus on a particular story of interest to you and rotate through your various sources to see that topic from varying perspectives.
You don't have to know everything about every topic every day. Much of the news in the 24/7 news cycle nowadays is repetitive.
3. Balance local and national news sources.
While being informed about national politics and news is important, you still want to know who your police chief or sheriff is. You want to know how your local taxes are being spent. What's the governing board of the school district up to?
If your local newspaper has fallen apart, then determine which broadcast station has the investigative reporter with chops. Find local talk radio programming to listen to. Even if you don't agree with the bias some of these programs may display, still pay attention. Someone in your community hears them and agrees with them.
Most importantly, though, talk to people in your community about the local happenings. When I get together with my friends, frequently, we chat about national politics and issues. Local issues are just as important and depending on who knows who, you may be surprised at what you learn from your friends. If someone says something truly outrageous, I'll still check sources, but I've learned a lot about local politics because I'll discuss local politics with friends.
4. Prune your Facebook likes and follows.
I joined Facebook late. Like last year. I am not a fan.
However, I caved on membership so I could administer a "business page" for this blog and to keep up with friends and family.
I do like seeing pictures and news...from the people I care about. When I first joined Facebook, I started following and liking various businesses, entertainment sources, and news outlets.
Even with pushing my friends posts to the top of my feed, I found myself being inundated with posts about a variety of topics...not related to the lives of my friends or family.
I unliked and unfollowed almost all of these business, entertainment, and news pages.
Now when I open Facebook, I see pictures and posts from my peoples first. If it looks like news or memes or whatever time suck that they have perhaps shared, I scroll right by, often without a second glance.
If I don't see smiling faces I recognize, cute kids, or puppies, or jokes from my buddies, I just keep going. After a few swipes, I'm done for the day. I refuse to make Facebook or any social media my news source. It's bad enough that corporate America has bought the news in the U.S., I don't want any Silicon Valley CEO filtering that news even more.
If you have a different social media platform that sucks your time, determine how to prune what you're exposed to or limit your time using that app.
5. Avoid reading or watching the news before bed.
I just don't see how consuming news stories before bed promotes rest and relaxation. I usually read a book, which really means I read a few pages before my head starts crashing into my chest and doing that ridiculous bobbing action.
If there's a fun podcast I've been meaning to listen to, I'll listen to those. Most of these podcasts are about books.
Sometimes I'll catch up on mini-tasks on my iPad. Like I'll work through my to do list for the next day or sync my FitBit progress.
6. Find the in-depth stories.
If a topic truly interests you, go looking for the in-depth reporting. Find the Frontline episode or the documentary on that topic. is there a credible book on the subject?
Go do your own research on those issues that concern you the most.
7. Find positive sources that inspire you.
I like Upworthy. I subscribe to their daily dose of goodness. Some days I click on a few of their inspiring stories. Other days I don't feel the need to counter-balance the negative news.
If you're a dog or cat lover, you may want to subscribe to Nuzzle's blog updates. My Person and I have bought one of their GPS collars for Bernie, but we like their blog for all the rescue stories they share. We're both usually tearing up at the heartwarming inspiration we find there.
Maybe you subscribe to certain blog newsletters for their upbeat tone or tips on mindfulness. Maybe you read bits and pieces of BuzzFeed or subscribe to daily jokes.
Just find some sources that deliver more positive vibes to you rather than the cringe-worthy stories the news usually sells. Consider these sources a palette cleanse for closing a news session for the day.