in: Advice, Character, Sunday Firesides

Sunday Firesides: Cancel Your News Debt

There are many reasons to consider eliminating, or at least reducing, one’s consumption of the news.

It’s sensationalized. It’s distracting. It offers a distorted, overly negative-focused picture of reality. It serves as pure entertainment versus opinion-changing information on a ratio of 500 to 1.

To this list of reasons against keeping up with the news can be added yet another.

Once you start paying attention to the news, you notice that a good portion of it does not in fact report the news at all; rather than covering what is happening, it forecasts what could happen.

There are endless stories done on future hypotheticals: Here’s what might happen if the virus mutates . . . if he’s impeached . . . if this company collapses . . . if we go to war . . . if they drop a nuke . . . if a meteor strikes the earth.

Not only do almost none of the possible future scenarios ever come to pass, but there’s nothing the average citizen can do to prepare for or change the scenario even if it does. 

Perhaps there seems to be little harm done in keeping up with such hypotheticals. After all, few but the very neurotic will panic over what are only potential outcomes.

But there is a cost to such consumption, and it steadily accrues. Every headline produces another small drop of cortisol that day by day diminishes physical and mental health. Every scroll contributes to an unnecessarily gloomy outlook. Every titillating apocalyptic prognostication about public life distracts from improving a private life that’s devoid of native excitement.

It’s been said that worry is interest paid on a debt you may not owe, and this is as true for personal anxieties as societal ones.

Rather than borrowing trouble from a media-imagined future, invest your time and energy in that which will actually reap dividends: the things you can control.   

Related Posts