Socially Thinking: Breaking the hold of the media can be life-changing

I thought I should give an update on my No News May Challenge that I set for myself in the early days of May. I had decided I would only look at about an hour a week of any news sites and break that down into about five minutes or so a day. The quick update is that I stuck to my plan fairly well, with there being only a few days where I got caught up in the news-induced drama. On those days the anxiety was higher, I felt angry over the smallest inconveniences, and I felt as if the world was a hate-filled, dreary place that I didn’t want to be a part of.


When I didn’t look at any news sites, I was more engaged with the world around me and found more time for writing and reading.


What I have learned this past month of news consumption reduction is that once you start to cut back looking at the news, they start to lose their grip on you. By “they” I mean “the media” (social, news, etc.), news companies, and politicians. They control us through our fears and, man, have they succeeded this year.


I still look at news sites and get upset, but much, much less than I did. The number of days when something I read on the news or a social media site changes how I feel during the day is shrinking. My fear is shrinking. The thought that I have to be outraged and afraid all the time is shrinking. The idea that I have to be on alert at all times, wary of what politicians are doing to do next is shrinking.
I look at sites like The Daily Wire, NPR, The Atlantic, CNN, The Daily Beast, The New Yorker, and Fox News and I see people desperate for us to be in a constant state of panic or outrage. Without those two emotions, they don’t make money. The need to keep us angry and afraid because when we are in those mindsets, we will just keep scrolling and scrolling and sucking all those negative headlines up in a cycle of horror, as if we think that if we keep scrolling something positive will pop up and make all the horror worth it. Nothing positive is going to pop up and if it does, the writer of the article will find a way to make it negative.


Do we need to be informed? Yes, but right now I don’t see information, I see indoctrination from both “sides.” The fact I have to say that there are sides of media is weird for me. No longer is news objective. It’s either Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Liberal information being pushed at us. These days, whether or not we believe a story depends on what party we are a part of and what “news” source is giving us the information. If a particular news source usually supports and promotes the idea of the party or value system opposite of ours, we dismiss that information without checking to see if there could be some truth to it. It’s sad but true. We all know it. We all do it, some of us without even realizing we are.


While I didn’t succeed in breaking the hold the media had on me, I would say I put a significant, fatal dent in it. If the media wants to get me back under their control then they’ll have to bring in the aliens and the threat of nuclear war from China. Oh, look at that, “they” are already on top of those subjects. Unfortunately for them, I’ve already learned their tactics, that they aren’t to be trusted and I’ve also picked up a few good books I’d rather read instead.