Listening to the news is a common stereotype that has been around for a long time. The only difference is that people used to listen to the news on the radio and read it from the newspapers before. But now, we have smartphones, laptops, and other gadgets that notify us each time a person dies or a politician says something funny in a press conference.
I first heard about “not listening to the news” in Tim Ferriss’s book The 4-Hour Work Week. At first, I was a little surprised. How can someone that popular not listen to the news? How does he find out what’s going on in the country or world? Doesn’t he miss out on a lot of things?
But then, I gave it a thought. I asked myself, “How does listening to the news help me?” “Is it making any contribution to what I do?” The only outcome of listening to the news was talking about it with others.
The Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)
At first, I thought I would have FOMO if I didn’t know what was happening. All my friends would be talking about politics and the latest gossip in town while I would be sitting there nodding my head—pretending to know what they were talking about.
I honestly don’t care about politics. I have no interest in which politician is saying what and how the government is running. (FYI, I know who the current prime minister is, in case you are wondering.) “But, how can you say you have no interest, being the citizen of the country?”
Here is the thing, I have a lot going on in my life to care about what is happening in other people’s lives or the country. But, I agree, I should be a responsible citizen and care about what is going on. But, my knowing (or not knowing) and my thoughts about what the government should or shouldn’t do is not going to make much difference.
Again, you might give examples of people who have changed the system. People like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mahatma Gandhi, changed the system. But I am not them. I have my priorities, my work, and my way of living. I want a peaceful environment where people can do what they want (but, of course, staying within the law).
It Can Be Depressing
Listening to the news does not provide real value. Instead of doing that, I would rather read a book, listen to music, or take a walk outside. So I would at least be in a good state of mind.
I have seen people getting worried about unnecessary things after listening to the news. That is useless. Why? Because they are getting worried over something which they cannot control. For example, if someone gets killed in a bike accident, there’s nothing you or I can do except ride safely the next time you are on the road. Yes, it is sad news. But why should you be obsessed with it and disturb your mental state?
It is not that I completely ignore the news because it is very difficult to ignore anything in today’s social-media-driven world. (Unless you have no access to the internet, or you live in a jungle.) I come across news headlines and posts on Facebook. I read them sometimes, but as I said, I don’t let them impact my life.
The Pandemic Nightmare
The pandemic has made it worse. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, people are obsessed with the news. They read the news, look at the stats (number of cases, deaths, recovered, tests, and so on), and talk about it with everyone they meet. It is nice to be informed, but again, you should not be obsessed with it.
In my opinion (and I might be criticized for this), I think the media has overly exaggerated the Covid news. I am not saying that the virus is fake or the media is wrong. But I feel like they are showing way too much, which has led to panic, worry, and fear among the people.
I have even heard that most of the deaths caused by Covid are because the patients were not mentally strong to handle it. So it shows that your mental state is as important as your physical state to fight the disease.
You won’t miss out if you don’t listen to the news. If the news is big enough (like Covid, for example), you will hear about it one way or the other. Otherwise, I think it is best to avoid the news. Instead, focus on your work and life—your health, relationships, career, and well-being.
Focus on What You Can Control
Remember, you should focus on what you can control and ignore the things you can’t control. For example, you can control your thoughts, feelings, work, decisions, mindset, reactions, etc. But you can’t control the weather, other people’s thoughts/feelings, the past, and so on. Stoic philosopher Epictetus said,
“Freedom is the only worthy goal in life. It is won by disregarding things that lie beyond our control.” —Epictetus
Almost all the things you hear in the news are beyond your control. As I said, they are only useful to chat with other people and to prove that you know stuff. Knowing what is going on around you does not define your intelligence.
Instead of worrying or being sad, be grateful for this life. Do the things that matter to you. Build better relationships; spend time with friends and family. Exercise and take care of your physical and mental health. Stay happy. All these are within your control. Don’t let some crappy news spoil your day. Focus on you.