News is bad for you – and giving up reading it will make you happier


News is bad for your health. It leads to fear and aggression and hinders your creativity and ability to think deeply. The solution? Stop consuming it altogether

In the past few decades, the fortunate among us have recognised the hazards of living with an overabundance of food (obesity, diabetes) and have started to change our diets. But most of us do not yet understand that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don’t really concern our lives and don’t require thinking. That’s why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-coloured candies for the mind. Today, we have reached the same point in relation to information that we faced 20 years ago in regard to food. We are beginning to recognise how toxic news can be.

News misleads. Take the following event (borrowed from Nassim Taleb). A car drives over a bridge, and the bridge collapses. What does the news media focus on? The car. The person in the car. Where he came from. Where he planned to go. How he experienced the crash (if he survived). But that is all irrelevant. What’s relevant? The structural stability of the bridge. That’s the underlying risk that has been lurking, and could lurk in other bridges. But the car is flashy, it’s dramatic, it’s a person (non-abstract), and it’s news that’s cheap to produce. News leads us to walk around with the completely wrong risk map in our heads. So terrorism is over-rated. Chronic stress is under-rated. The collapse of Lehman Brothers is overrated. Fiscal irresponsibility is under-rated. Astronauts are over-rated. Nurses are under-rated.

We are not rational enough to be exposed to the press. Watching an airplane crash on television is going to change your attitude toward that risk, regardless of its real probability. If you think you can compensate with the strength of your own inner contemplation, you are wrong. Bankers and economists – who have powerful incentives to compensate for news-borne hazards – have shown that they cannot. The only solution: cut yourself off from news consumption entirely.

From editor: Like all texts, this one should also be read critically, with a reflection on the content.

Indeed, in the daily press, and definitely on news portals, we are dealing with a disregard for the principles of journalism.
Not only is the content deviating from the flashy titles or the introduction is built to make the reader click and move on, but it is full of syntax errors, stylistic or even spelling errors. Often, PR agencies send editorials press releases containing unverified news and unsupported statements, statements that even praise products or persons for no reason. Unfortunately, some editorial offices that do not care about standards copy them on the “copy and paste” principle.

However, it is often from the news that we learn about very important matters, e.g. forms of assistance offered by institutions during a pandemic – in my country, many companies have survived thanks to the knowledge from news about how to apply for this help and that it is available at all.
Also, from articles on industry portals or in social media, we learn about what can give us a competitive advantage or just develop business, customer relations, remote work, etc.

So – not all news is bad, news that is surreptitious advertising is bad, news based solely on emotions and not knowledge is bad, good news from real journalists is good.

Much depends on us or the responsible editors, news aggregation applications that allow you to add unwanted sources to the blocked ones are helpful.

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