Throughout most of my adult life I’ve loved listening to the news in the morning during breakfast or travelling to work in the car. I would put on the radio and find a news channel to get up to date with the latest goings-on in the world.
I’ve also got even more excited about sitting down on Sunday mornings and reading through the entire Sunday paper while dipping different pastries in my coffee with a smile on my face.
Then, with the news on my smartphone, I was soon disappearing head first down rabbit holes in Germany and the floods in some region I couldn’t pronounce or locate, and then appearing again on the island of Kiribati, where I discovered it’s going to be the first nation in the world to disappear under the ocean.
However, one day while watching another video, this time about successful people, one of the common themes was “I don’t listen to or read the news.” At first, I thought it was just part of an eccentric personality and just one of a millionaire businessperson’s habits, such as getting up at 3am, working out at 5am and then having a Sirtfood breakfast before driving to work in their Tesla.
But no; it seems that it’s a pretty common theme with most very successful people. Before I continue, and before you object, let’s rule out reading and listening to news that you need for your work. For example, economic and stock market news for people working in finance.
So, I decided to stop reading or listening to the news, deleting my favourite news App on my phone and decided to see what would happen. At most, I was basically reading the main headlines for the day in a couple of minutes and then moving on. The strategy was to be highly selective, and not go into an irrelevant depth of knowledge that was absurd. And it worked. Nothing changed in my life except my increased productivity and feeling less stressed!
Why is knowing about what’s going on in the world a waste of time? Knowing about how the war in Ukraine is advancing can seem like a useful and even humanitarian thing to be up to date with. However, any more than reading a brief headline is irrelevant unless you are directly involved in the conflict.
As humans, we seem to have a natural desire and love of gossip and finding out about things in general. Put bluntly, we have a morbid curiosity to discover things in more detail than we need. Sadly, we don’t discriminate.
As an example, think about the evening news in two ways.
1)the piece of news
2) the details of the piece of news
How much of the news do you even need to know about? For example, there’s a forest fire in another remote part of your country, another country or even continent. It’s irrelevant. In fact, there are fires all the time, and you don’t even know about them. And, you don’t ‘need’ to know.
The theft of cars has gone up in another part of the country, there was a train cash in another part of the world, there was a terrorist attack in the Middle East, a train was derailed in the UK due to high temperatures. A swimmer was chased by a shark and a man bit a dog. You could spend the rest of your life just reading about other people’s lives and random events that have nothing to do with you.
What about the weather? A good example of how ridiculous the ‘News’ has become is the Weather on TV1 Spain, that must last at least 10 minutes and gives you a detailed analysis of every province of Spain and its islands. Even if you didn’t have Google weather, you could find out the weather in your location in 20 seconds. But you feel compelled to ‘finish’ the news and sit through and later discuss the bad weather they’re having in a location a 1000kms from where you live. I could go on.
You’re wasting your time, you’re wasting your valuable life and your productivity is zero.
Yes, but it’s my relaxation time!!! I really enjoy listening to the news and the detailed analysis of the irrelevant item while driving to work.
The question boils down to one key point; what else should you or could you be doing with your time?
If you can’t think of anything better to do in your life, then it’s time you found something!! But that’s the subject of another article.
For me, the only useful thing about the news is to practise and learn a new language. If you’re learning French, and you’re going to listen to irrelevant news anyway, why not tune in and find out about the metro strike in Paris, the melting snow caps in the Alps and how it’s affecting livelihoods there, and then move on to residents’ opinions on the extreme temperatures on the French Riviera?
Did you know that regular exposure to a language is one of the most important ways you can boost your learning? And on many news channels, the news is repeated every 15 or 30 minutes. Perfect for a language learner. Useless for everyone else.
So, if you still feel impelled to find out about a load of information that wastes your time and adds nothing to your life, then at least do so in another language. In that way you’ll be using your time productively and can kill two birds with one stone, or faire d’une pierre deux coups or even matar a dos pájaros de un tiro.