I do a lot of reading, and there is little I like more than coming across a simple idea which makes me pause, think, then make a change for the better.
That is what happened when I read THIS ARTICLE by the scholar, writer, and literary critic, Alan Jacobs, who also happens to be a distinguished professor of the humanities in the Honors Program of Baylor University.
In just a few paragraphs Jacobs makes a strong argument against the minute-by-minute way most of us currently get our news, primarily because of the emotional toll it takes. My favorite segment:
“…the Twitter cycle is far, far too short. People regularly get freaked out by stories that turn out to be false, and by the time the facts are known a good deal of damage (not least to personal relationships) has often already been done – plus, the disappearance of the cause of an emotion doesn’t automatically eliminate the emotion itself. In fact, it often leaves that emotion in search of new justifications for its existence.”
As a result, he has decided to “get into a longer news frequency,” acquiring his information in ways that take him out of the unnerving state of being on “high alarm all the time.” As a bit of news junkie myself, I like that he is not giving up on staying informed, just changing the methods by which he becomes informed.
I had already been attempting to limit the number of times I check the news each day. It was a decision I made based on the following:
1) I was reading a lot of material which didn’t really interest me, simply because I was lured in by the headlines;
2) I was reading much of the same material over and over again, because the headlines would change, even if the story did not;
3) Doing this took time away from things in which I really am interested.
While I had been focusing on the loss of time, Jacobs article also made me realize how much anxiety my habit had been causing. This gave me the extra incentive to stick to my plan, even when I had a few spare minutes to look. Though it has only been a couple of weeks, I am already feeling less stressed.