Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I Haven't Watched The News, Or Read a Newspaper, In Over 3 Years

Recently, a friend posted this cartoon on my facebook page...

It made me chuckle, but I was also reminded how much my life has changed the past three years, since I decided to tune out from mainstream media. 

Yes I, who once prided myself on being up-to-date with current affairs, have not watched the news, read a newspaper, or visited a news site in more than 3 years

When I made the decision to switch off, I was highly stressed, anxious about the future, drowning in debt, and felt helpless about what was happening in the world. That first week, I had to continually stop myself from turning on the TV out of sheer habit. It was a surreal feeling - almost a fear of not knowing or of being left out.

Maybe the world was crashing to a halt, and I was the only one who didn't know, and couldn't prepare for it?

But the world kept right on turning and, after that first week, I simply found other things to do.

More productive things, I might add! 

The fear of “not knowing” and being “left out” gradually subsided as I found myself not missing out on anything that actually made a speck of difference to my life. Instead of focusing on what was wrong and what I didn't want, I began to turn my attention to what I could do - creating the kind of life and future I wanted for my children. This saw me leave the city, get out of debt, move to a tropical island, start a business, write a book...

That transformation was the result of many changes I made in my life - cultivating selective ignorance was just one of them. But there are several benefits which can be traced directly to my decision to "tune out", and which had many flow-on effects in my life.

1. I've become much more sensitive and aware. 

I’d always thought of myself as a sensitive, intuitive kind of person, but I had no idea that watching and reading the news was desensitizing me so much.

Now, when I glimpse the sensationalist headlines of a newspaper, about terrorism or warfare or religious tensions, I feel myself start to become tense and on edge. It’s not outwardly evident, but I feel the subtle change of energy within me.

I never realized the negative, energy-sapping news stories were affecting me like that, until I spent time away from it, and now I can see it all too clearly.

Recently, my dad left his newspaper on the kitchen bench and my curiosity got the better of me. I didn’t even finish the first paragraph on the first page, before I walked away in disgust. It was all about war and bombs and military. It took me several hours of re-focusing my attention before I managed to shake off the feeling of un-ease.

I can’t believe I subjected myself to those negative vibes for so long, thinking I was staying “informed”, when really I was staying fearful and passive and helpless. But not any more!

      2. I've made better use of my time. 

      Over the last three-and-a-bit years, more than 1000 hours of my precious life have been spent on worthwhile activities, rather than sitting back helplessly, while being bombarded with "proof" of what a horrible world we live in.

Those extra 1000 hours were spent cooking nutritious meals for my family, playing with my children, cleaning my house, writing an e-book and building this website.

3. I’ve become more positive and confident

Rather than being constantly reminded of everything supposedly wrong with the world, I can now choose to focus on the kind of world I want to see. The world I see is nothing like the one portrayed on the news. I see people helping each other, being good citizens, trying to be decent partners/parents/employees. 

In the latter years of her life, my grandmother became very pessimistic and fearful about going out on her own. She stayed at home, reading the Daily Telegraph, which just confirmed her suspicions that robbers and murderers were lurking around every corner, just waiting to rip off a little old granny and leave her for dead.

I found myself falling into the same trap...

I used to worry about the future, and how would I protect my children amongst all this terrorism, and economic upheaval, and rising costs of living? Basically, I felt helpless. Strangely enough, the more anxious I became, the more I had to watch the news, in case there was some matter of utmost importance I had to know about (there never was. Just more of the same fear-mongering and pessimism.) 

Now, I don’t lose sleep over any of those things. Instead, I focus on what I CAN control, which is not “out there”, but “in here”. 

Rather than fearing the future, I am hopeful and optimistic and know that I am well-equipped to handle whatever challenges lie ahead.

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository
       4. I’m more up-to-date on useful information.

      I may not know the name of the latest axe-murderer, or which celebrity is cheating who, or who got sent out for being a naughty boy during question-time in parliament (does anyone even care?), but I am one step ahead of the media on useful information.  

For example, a couple of years ago, I read an article on Steve Pavlina’s blog about the health benefits of having a “standing” work-desk, rather than sitting at your desk all day.

Last week, as I was walking into work, I happened to glance up at the current affair show on TV. It was about how sitting at a desk all day is causing so many health issues, it will eventually burden the healthcare system more than smoking, and a stand-up desk is one simple, but effective, solution.

I laughed.

It was old news to me…

5. I'm more creative and able to think "outside the square".

Without meaning to sound like a conspiracy theorist, the mainstream news outlets really do portray a very limiting, conventional view of the world (which may or may not be influenced by whence their advertising dollars come from...)

Once I managed to extract myself from that limiting, narrow paradigm, I found that my mind became highly creative and original. Rather than getting my information from mainstream media, I gathered information by talking to people, reading books and blogs, experiencing the world with my own senses, and not through the skewed lens of the media. This had the effect of opening up my mind to all kinds of possibilities and opportunities, and led me to achieve things I might never have attempted in the past.
All in all, my news fast has been a wise decision, with many positive benefits.

If anything really important is happening, someone will tell me about it, or post about it on facebook. I don't feel that I'm missing out in any way.

So here’s to many more years of remaining blissfully ignorant of the headlines and hype.

You Might Also Like:

No comments: