Short and Sweet On the Value of Selective Ignorance, After Working at a Newspaper
“You’re basically told, ‘Find the thing that’s going to scare people the most and write about it.’…It’s like every day is Halloween at the newspaper. I avoid newspapers.”
Tim Ferriss has mentioned this before, and I think it’s one of the better takeaways from The 4-Hour Workweek:
I never watch the news and have bought one single newspaper in the last five years, in Stansted Airport in London, and only because it gave me a discount on a Diet Pepsi.
I read the front-page headlines through the newspaper machine as I walk to lunch each day and nothing more. In five years, I haven’t had a single problem due to this selective ignorance. It gives you something to ask the rest of the population in lieu of small talk. And, if it’s that important, you’ll hear people talking about it.
It’s imperative that you learn to ignore or redirect all information and interruptions that are irrelevant, unimportant, or unactionable. Most are all three.
I read a lot. I read magazines, books, and online using Feedly. I read to keep up with business and technology for work, I read about sports and health & fitness because those topics interest me, and I read fiction to relax. But I tend to ignore “the news” in general for all of the reasons above.
The one bit of news I do read, sort of an updated and better version of looking through the newspaper machine, is the Weekend Briefing on The New York Times. It’s a great way to keep up with what’s going on in the world in ~10 minutes a week. Each Sunday they post a short summary of the top 10 or so news stories of the week. Here’s an example from a few weeks ago if you’re curious. The nice thing is that it links deeper into the story. Most of the time I just read that page and call it a day, but if a topic interests me I like that it’s easy to dive into further.