Problem: Constant news feeds make you feel like your world is out of control
Step 1: Understand the problem
Heard it said once that the amount of news generated in one day is the same amount of news someone in the middle ages consumed in a lifetime. Do we really need this much information all the time? It’s good to keep informed. In fact, knowing what is going on is part of your civic duty. However, humans have a natural negativity bias. We love to focus on the dangerous and the threatening. This can easily turn us into a coop of Chicken Littles. The problem with so much negativity is that negative news can affect your own personal worries. We start amplifying our own fears and everything starts looking scary. There have been studies done that show that exposure to graphic violence on the news for extended periods of time can start us down the road to PTSD.
Not good. Another problem is that almost everything we see in the news is outside of our circle of influence, to steal a Franklin Covey term. When we focus so much of our energy on something that we don’t have any control over, it makes us feel helpless. This causes anxiety. Finally, thanks to the personalization of our news feeds, we are typically only getting half of the story, so we are not getting exposed to opposing viewpoints. This may make us feel comforted, being part of a tribe. More often though, it leads to a collective commiseration, increasing the sense of victimhood. Misery loves company.
Step 2: Be mindful of how bad it is
Over the next three days we will discover just how bad it is. First we will track the amount of time you get interrupted by news feeds. Second we will track the amount of time you spend consuming that news.