“How are things in America?” my mother, who lives in Canada, asks me; just like she does each time we talk over the phone. By things she means COVID numbers. I tell her, like I always do, I don’t know, I don’t watch the news.
She laughs and tells me my aunt, who lives in Ethiopia, has been telling her about the millions of COVID cases being reported in America. “The news finds you even from Ethiopia,” she laughs again.
I quit the news in 2016. The news still finds me.
It is impossible to completely quit the news.
But first, why even bother?
Before I deleted all social media, I— like you, you, and you, got most of my news from Twitter. By most I mean all, and by news I mean headlines of articles and people’s 140-characters commentaries. Read a full article!? I don’t know her. Still, like many, I held staunch opinions on things that my poor early 20’s brain barely understood.
Then, the world ended.
I used to think maybe I felt that way because that was the year I officially entered adulthood— in theory anyway, but I don’t think so anymore. Something truly shifted in the world the year 2016, and I watched it play out on Twitter, of all places. I was only on Twitter at that time. Something felt very eerie, very instinctually unsettling, scrolling through my feed. The negativity and negative news about the world— about everything— felt unrelenting and unbearable; choking up my newsfeed, my thoughts, my life. It all felt wrong.
Luckily, there was someone else who felt similarly about the media a bit earlier than I did: The Man Who Knew Too Little. If Erick Hagerman can do it, I knew I could too. Young, dumb, and idealistic, I decided to give up the news, and by giving up news I mean I stopped reading headlines and getting enraged.
Quitting the news is a funny declaration, because there was nothing I had to do. I wasn’t subscribed to any news sources. I didn’t have TV. There was no other source of news in my life except for my Twitter feed. How do you quit something that is intangible? I decided to ignore it. Take no notice of it. Disregard it. Pay no attention to it. I turned a blind eye- a deaf ear, and became oblivious to any source of ‘news.’
It was easy to give it up for two reason.
First, that eerie, unsettling feeling I had while on Twitter during the 2016 election, and leading up to it, left me with enough revulsion towards the news that I couldn’t scroll away fast enough. I didn’t want the news in my life. The world ended anyway. It didn’t matter to me. Mostly anyway.
Because the news is everywhere, there is really no fully escaping it— unless maybe you go completely offline, completely off the grid. There is a story about a guy who, during the pandemic, was living away from civilization, with no news of the what was happening that he was bewildered by seeing people wearing masks upon his return. Bless his heart. Besides the blessed, for the rest of us the news is inescapable. It will reach you; from family, friends, co-workers, and everyone else you encounter in your day-to-day life.
That’s the good news, no pun intended; you can quit the news without worrying about missing out on much. The important stuff will find you, one way or another. That’s also the bad news because, well, the news will find you. Not just the important stuff, but the stuff you are trying to avoid. For instance, another good reason I quit the news was to minimize my alarmingly embarrassing knowledge of pop culture, and I still know way more than I would like to know about Kim Kardashian. It’s inescapable.
So, why even bother?
For two very good reasons.
One, when you get the news from second-hand account, from people in your real life, it’s much easier to take it with a grain of salt and ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. The media is actively and relentlessly trying to manipulate you, but Uncle Ruckus is just bat-shit crazy. You can laugh and move on. Plus, even if you have to put up with hearing about the news, you also get to have real, human-to-human conversation about it. If you’re worried about what to say when someone brings up what’s on the news, simply say “Oh, I had no idea. What’s happening with [topic]?” It really is that simple. You don’t need to have an opinion. Opinions are like asshole, it’s better to keep your shit to yourself.
Two, it’s nice to wake up without the news. It’s nice to have breakfast and enjoy your scrambled eggs without the news. It’s nice to enjoy your social media feed, without the news. By giving up the news, it stops infiltrating every moment of your life with its presence, manipulating you to have its preferred reaction, mild or otherwise, at all times.
So. Quit the news. Unsubscribe from news sources. Cancel cable news. They are always lying to you anyway. Move towards a life unencumbered by the news. Ignore it: Take no notice, disregard, pay no attention, turn a blind eye, a deaf ear, become oblivious.
Life is pretty alright without it.
I know enough to know I don’t know enough about the social, political, economic, individual ills of society: Not enough to have any useful opinion on it anyway. I mean it’s really fun sometimes to talk shit about the state of the world- knowing I know so very little, but not enough to wake up to it, to Love it, Retweet and Tweet it. As for the rest of the news, I’m trying to care less about Billie Eilish’s Grammys outfit.
Until next time,
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