I deleted the news feed on my phone. I wanted what “Manjoo was having”: more free time, and a clearer head.
For two months, he had turned off digital news notifications including all social networks and subscribed to three print newspapers plus a weekly newsmagazine. His mantra: Get news. Not too quickly. Avoid Social.
Basically, I was trying to slow-jam the news* — I still wanted to be informed, but was looking to formats that prized depth and accuracy over speed.
His self-imposed asceticism was life changing:
Turning off the buzzing breaking-news machine I carry in my pocket was like unshackling myself from a monster who had me on speed dial, always ready to break into my day with half-baked bulletins.
Now I am not just less anxious and less addicted to the news, I am more widely informed… And I’m embarrassed about how much free time I have...
Inspired by Manjoo, I wanted to see what kind of change disengaging from escalating habit of checking my news feed might bring to my life. In my experiment, I limited my news intake to two email newsletters, sites I scout for my work, and an evening news summary on the radio. (Social media has never been a fierce draw for me so I didn’t have to disable it).
I noticed the change immediately: The seconds and minutes I would have spent checking feeds throughout the day gradually grew into a calm, luxurious sense of time. Liberated from the bleak, “emergency” mindset that breaking news fuels, I felt a palpable sense of spaciousness. Gone were reports of events I could not control and would only make me anxious.
I realized that the much “breaking” or social media-driven “news” rarely offers much I really need. When I asked myself Ginny Jordan’s great question “Is it additive?”, the answer was usually no.
All-in-all a big payoff.
*Manjoo was referring to the Tonight Show’ Jimmy Fallon’s ongoing riff on “slow-jamming the news” with various politicians. Here’s a beautiful tiny snippet with Obama (video link here.) (And check out the superb 7 minute slow-jam Obama did before he left office).