Newsflush – Why I’m giving up news

My brain is skittish, foggy. I can’t concentrate for very long. I get ratty with books (my patience much reduced), and my attention span is microscopic. I need my next fix and I need it now, before I miss out, before something REALLY important happens. I’ve exhausted the BBC, I try Twitter – I need news, I need it like I need a fix of chocolate.

News is bad, bad news is poisonous. This is what I’ve read. I can believe it. I was caught in its toxic clutches. It started off as an experiment. I wondered, will I learn more, be more informed, will I wow people at parties with my knowledge of current affairs?

I liked the (fleeting) feeling of awareness the news gave me. I did the same the following day. Before I know it, I am seeking out new ‘news’ as though my sanity depended on it.

News bulletins are like sweeties. Little bonbons of compelling trivia that we consume without thought or question. We are drawn to it without considering its relevance on our lives. When consumed so passively we barely register whether it’s positive or negative. Mostly it’s negative. Journalists are like pushers – trying to tempt us with their little ‘treats’ which disguise the scaremongering and political propaganda.

So much of it is irrelevant to me. I don’t want the limited capacity of my brain to be saturated with such trivia. The ex PM resigning as an MP, who gives a stuff, really? Does this information affect anyone’s life in a positive way, or offer any kind of advantage?

Negative, tragic news skews my view of the world, makes it into an unsafe, riskier place to be. And this bigger picture that we feed with froth bears no relation to our reality. Apparently, a negative view of the world is further entrenched with every negative news story we hear, despite the lack of first hand evidence to support it.

The recent referendum is a case in point. With the amount of fuss made of the vote you would think an apocalypse was on its way. So much shallow discussion, so much propaganda. I was sick to death of it. Even friends who hitherto I found enjoyable company, who, on the eve of the referendum sought to entertain me with their strongly held views, bored the pants off me. They spent too much time listening to the news, so they’d be ‘informed’ on current affairs in order to have an intelligent discussion, should the opportunity arise. In reality they were taken in by the propaganda or they’d adopted the views of others – perhaps they based their opinions on those of impressing friends and colleagues. It is impossible to know all the facts with so much ‘information’ saturating the media, how can we possibly make an informed choice.

I am yet to see Brexit’s impact on my day to day. Some may call me naïve or blinkered – but if it means I don’t fill my head with fluff then I don’t care. If it’s really important – as in, if it’s likely to affect my life in a big way then the news will find it’s way to me. The important stuff tends to stick around.

We rate the importance of news items by its prominence in the media. We get used to the dramas, grow immune to the death, destruction and violence that is happening elsewhere in the world and increasingly we lack empathy. We have no power to do anything. We just sit, passively absorbing the stench of the frivolous bulletin.

Like an annoying bluebottle that cannot find its way out of an open window, the interrupting snippets of news trivia from every source steal my limited attention and focus from what is important; my children, relationships, books and long-form writing. My brain pathways strengthen in areas that are irrelevant to me, and weaken in its deep-thinking capacities, severely affecting my ability to read a book from start to finish.

I turn off the news. Permanently.

I want to be free of such brain padding. Without the fascism of trivia my creativity is vibrant. Ideas pop in to my mind, uninhibited and unobstructed. There is more room for it to run and be free.