People spend hours reading news on newspaper, social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, forums like Reddit, etc. An avalanche of information stifles us every single day. But is it useful? Is it worth spending my precious time keeping up with the latest news? My answer is no. I don’t read news anymore.
Let’s define what news is. Of course it includes tradition newspaper and TV news, but news can also flood into our phone’s screen via the news feed of social media.
Here are the reasons I don’t read news:
1) The amount of information is too massive to absorb thanks to the advent of social media on which everyone is a content creator and can easily generate news. Our brain, however, is a scarce resource whose processing power is so limited that even I put in 16 hours into consuming news, I would forget most of them. That means I’m wasting time doing nothing. Why don’t I focus on other more meaning activities?
2) Most of the news are worthless or its worth decays exponentially. News like some celebrity did something or incident happened in somewhere are none of my business or have little positive impact on my life. The only value of news is that I don’t have to worry about the lack of topics when I talk to my friends, and the bonus is that you can show off your knowledge and wisdom as you can repeat some interesting arguments from some unknown critic which your friends have never heard of and pretend their arguments to be yours. But rather than random news, your life and story may be more meaningful to talk about.
3) It’s difficult to extract useful information from a sea of news with high noise-to-signal ratio. Most of the news are just noise in which only one thousandth, one millionth or one billionth of them have practical value. To make it worse, to win the algorithm game of social media, content creators are inclined to make click baits and fake news. We are living in the echo chamber produced by giant social media corporations, only reading what we want to read. It’s difficult for people to escape from the bubble and comprehend things from different perspectives.
If we don’t reading news, what should be do instead?
It’s hard to cut off all of the new sources and complete isolation is unnecessary. News and information directly related to our life are useful. What we have to do is to boost the efficiency of information absorption, filtering out the noise.
Here are the actual things we can do:
1) Pull information instead of letting information be pushed to you. Shut off all the useless push notifications of your phone. Unsubscribe and unfollow all the news from your social media. Do not mindlessly scroll through the endless news feed of social media, hoping that you will come across some useful information. You won’t. Do not wander around forums. All the information pushed to you must be turned off by default. You must know exactly what information you want to get and pull it from search engine or some official websites. Pull the desired information and then go away.
2) Learn new knowledge and do some worthwhile thing. The value of news decays exponentially while that of knowledge does not. Learning a language benefits you the whole life. Reading a book may be much more useful than reading hundreds of articles in the newspaper. Working out regularly will have positive impacts on you both physically and mentally.
3) The most valuable skill is the ability to sift through all the information and extract the useful one, turning it into knowledge, application and creativity. Some people have high information processing capability who can handle a huge amount of work emails and turn them into actual task items. Other people can combine information from a multitude of sources, transform them into knowledge in the form of books or blogs.