The news is increasingly becoming one of the biggest obstacles to productive focus.
If you’re a creator who makes entering an effective “flow state” your mission, the multi billion dollar media industry is precisely opposed to that.
Instead, they want you “engaged”.
Not creating value, but consuming it.
Clicking, scrolling and page views.
To accomplish their engagement goal – pulling you off your agenda and into theirs – they leverage the tools of hype, click-bait, outrage, schadenfreude and fear.
Most of all – and most insidiously – the news media leverages your deep desire to stay informed. You are culturally programmed (as we all are) with the belief that news consumption is semi-productive. You’ve been trained to believe that staying “up-to-date” is a virtue.
The problem is that it’s true: Democracy itself requires an informed citizenry. The news business manipulates this fact, stretching and distorting it beyond imagination. Having the right opinions at dinner parties has become a cultural, tribal signaling game. Every issue is presented as a scandal. Every scandal is urgent and might effect you.
I personally fell into the perfect storm of toxic news engagement in late 2017…
As an entrepreneur, the subject of taxation is pretty near and dear. It affects me, it affects my employees, it affects the financial models that determine how my business scales. Naturally, I was glued to my devices and clicked every headline.
The few months that the US Congress, then The Senate, then Congress again (etc etc) were debating the proposed tax bill were like a rollercoaster. I read the news every day, discussed the import of the latest with my entrepreneur friends. It all felt stressful, urgent and exhilarating.
In the end, a bill was signed. I felt empty.
I realized I had put dozens and dozens of hours of my time into following the progress of the tax bill… as though knowing how the “sausage was made” was somehow critical to my personal affairs.
The truth is, the bill was signed and it didn’t matter one iota how closely I followed it’s progress. I had less than zero input. All I was doing was passively consuming content and helping news sites sell pay-per-impression ads.
All I really needed to know was the final details, and how it impacted me. I scheduled a single meeting with my tax attorney and accountant… and realized that I could have entirely switched off for the entire process.
Imagine what else I could have done with all that time. And with all that energy.
Entrepreneurs aiming to produce a big impact – and reap big rewards – need to consciously unplug from the news.
Creation – of value, of art, of impact – is diametrically opposed to consumption.
Especially the algorithmically optimized, outrage inducing kind of consumption the news media uses to fuel their bottom line.
So why not disconnect entirely?
If you’re like me, you want to stay informed – you want to be a good democratic citizen – but you want your focus and productivity back.
ENTER THE WIKIPEDIA NEWS DIET
My life changed when I discovered Wikipedia’s Current Events Portal.
Here’s a website you can check in a minute or two to get the day’s high-level, global headlines. Objective, fact based and hype free. No click bait. No op-ed blogs.
If you want to stay informed and you value a daily does of news, make this your one and only current affairs pit stop.
You’ll be astounded by how little actually happens each day.
If was only after making this site my news ritual that I realized how distorted the news has made my view of the world. My sense of an acceleration of disastrous events – that the world is unraveling – all of it vanished as I realized that really, not much is going on day to day.
If something important happens – something that effects you – you’ll find out when it hits the Current Events page. You can dig deeper and find out more if needed. But most of the time, you’re fine.
No need to consume any content.
Go back to creating.