George
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(Stop) Reading the news.

February 23, 2020

It was on the height of the Greek Crisis back in 2012 when I decided to stop reading the news. The amount of depression I was getting from them was unbelievable. Back then every media outlet was representing my country as lazy people, that we don’t try enough to solve the problem etc. It also painted a picture in which we were to leave the EU and crash out to oblivion. It dawned on me that all of that was speculation at best and it added zero value to me. Moreover I was allowing them to tap on some primal parts of my brain where it gets excited by fear.

Books

A lot of articles and research has been written about our “fight or flight” instinct and how this is, or isn’t, useful but I like how this article from Smithsonian magazine puts it:

some of the main chemicals that contribute to the “fight or flight” response are also involved in other positive emotional states, such as happiness and excitement. So, it makes sense that the high arousal state we experience during a scare may also be experienced in a more positive light.

So it makes a bit more sense why these feelings are appealing in some level. You can tell they are appealing because a lot of times you probably said “I’m gonna stop reading the news” yet you still do it. I do it too. So tostop reading the news requires the same effort as stopping every other bad habit, like smoking, drinking etc. And don’t fool yourselves, it’s not an easy thing.

So what I’ve been trying to do when I need my fix of news is to choose from specific websites that present just the facts (for the most part). A small list I’ve compiled:

  • The Financial Times, it’s by far the most neutral source of getting my news
  • Bloomberg, same like the FT but I like the layout of the website from the FT a bit more.
  • The New York Times, is where I turn when I want to know what happens across the pond.
  • News 247, this is my Greek outlet of choice. I only use that. I’m not saying it’s perfect but it’s less political than most
  • Kathimerini is another good outlet but it’s slightly too political for my liking.

All of these outlets are good sources for getting your news but I am trying to moderate my use on them too. I haven’t subscribed to any of those and as a result at best I can read a couple of articles a day, at worst I can just read the headlines. I very rarely dive into more details once I read an article that I want to know more. But more often than not I don’t want to know more. If I do I will try to do my own research.

Finally the biggest mistake one can make is to use social media such as Facebook, Twitter or Reddit as your source of getting news. This is by far the worst source to do it as most of them are heavily biased or they are part of some kind of bubble. Don’t do it people. Get your news directly from some websites. You should treat social media as a curated list of disinformation and manipulation.


Thoughts of a developer, a photographer, a runner, a cook. All of them the same person. George is also on Twitter!