A few days ago, Mrs. Precise brought this manifesto under my attention. The author, Rolf Dobelli, is explaining how bad news consumption is for the mind. Further in the text he also makes a case why the first sentence of this article is very bad for your attention, since it has 2 links in it. Sorry, I’ll try not to do that again.
You know I recently did a no sugar challenge, so his first sentence immediately caught my attention, which is good news. I still seem to have some sort of attention span!
News is to the mind what sugar is to the body.
It also made me worried and already think a few steps ahead. I do have a much worse mental focus than in the past. I do read more news than in the past. He might be on to something…
The whole manifesto contains 15 points about why news is bad for you. I’ll give them here so you have a nice little recap of the text, but please go and read it in full. It’s an easy read and I think it contains many valid points.
- News misleads us systematically
- News is irrelevant
- News limits understanding
- News is toxic to your body
- News massively increases cognitive errors
- News inhibits thinking
- News changes the structure of your brain
- News is costly
- News sunders the relationship between reputation and achievement
- News is produced by journalists
- Reported facts are sometimes wrong, forecasts always
- News is manipulative
- News makes us passive
- News gives us the illusion of caring
- News kills creativity
Then somewhere on page 10 I read this:
The first week will be the hardest. Deciding not to check the news while you are thinking, writing or reading takes discipline. You are fighting your brain’s built-in tendency. Initially, you will feel out of touch or even socially isolated. Every day you will be tempted to check your favorite news Web site. Don’t do it. Stick to the cold-turkey plan. Go 30 days without news. After 30 days, you will have a more relaxed attitude toward the news. You will find that you have more time, more concentration and a better understanding of the world.
Was there ever a more clear sign? I found my next challenge! I have the feeling that this could be a quite difficult one, I’m really pretty addicted to news. I have this one local news site of which I just refresh the timeline with articles and read every single one that interests me. It has me refreshing the timeline about 5 times a day and then I’m continuously reading the articles as small attention breakers in between work. It really dawned upon me: this is bad, I have to change something.
So there you have it. Starting today, there’s no more news for me.