Have you ever heard of a News Fast? You give up news in every format (print, radio, tv, internet) for a week in order to take a break but also to see if you are truly missing anything. After the week has passed, you make adjustments in how you consume your news so as to make sure it’s a net contribution to your life, rather than a net negative. This isn’t a crazy idea of luddites: even a news site like Slate has non-ironically written an article encouraging just such a thing.
The nature of the beast
News, like weather, has the ability to affect our mood. In the history of the world there has never been so much availability of “news” as there is now and it threatens to engulf us in every medium possible. Add to that the state of discourse worldwide: be it in politics, science, or even how or why weather is changing, we can’t seem to discuss issues calmly. The “news” is almost always negative, and prolonged exposure to it can have the knock-on effect of framing everything else around us, be it situations at work or at home. Negative news can lead you to see events in your life that were formerly neutral as possibly negative.
There’s also the issue of “breaking” news, and if it’s delivered in a medium with sound and graphics we will hear a swoosh and a bell, reminding us, like Pavlov’s dogs, that something is coming (though, to be fair, at least Pavlov’s dogs got food, we on the other hand get told of tragedies). Perhaps it’s called “breaking” because that’s what it’s trying to do to our spirits.
A news fast can allow you to take time, with little to no consequences, to evaluate the role of such a potentially big influence in your life. Even better, it gives you a window to pursue alternatives. Remember that it’s always good to replace something you are giving up with something else, rather than just leaving a vacuum. Once you’ve resolved to make a news fast and have set a date for when it will begin, make a list of all the things you would want to do instead, starting with items you often say, “I need to that more often.” Maybe it’s time with your children, or reading, or meditation.
You also won’t get drawn into useless exchanges on social media. Can you think of many people who have shared that they changed their views on an important subject because of a comment they read on Facebook or Twitter? These useless exchanges feed into the negative energy that we discussed above.
What happens next
Once you’ve set a date, let your friends and family know so that they can help support you (refrain from sending links and videos for that week, etc.), and make sure you have a clearly articulated why so that they can respect it and help you with the experiment. If there’s anything truly important, they will inform you, otherwise, let them know you want to take a break for the week so they don’t discuss news items with you. Have the list of replacement activities discussed above and do them. Make sure to avoid all news in print or on radio, tv, and the internet (turning off news push notifications and setting a temporary rule to redirect news emails will help) Once the week is up, do an evaluation. If your life is worse as a result of the fast, simply resume your regularly scheduled programming. But, if your life is better…well, it’s time to make some changes to your lifestyle to make those improvements permanent.
Have you done a news fast before? If not, are you willing to? Share in the comments below to receive a 15% off coupon for your next cologne purchase at one of our clubs.