It is more than 12 years, since I stopped reading newspapers and watching television. After I moved away from employment into my own venture, my focus sharpened and my priorities drastically narrowed. My mental peace, energy levels and productivity became paramount in my life. The best deployment of my time was no longer a choice, it became critically mandatory for my survival. That was when I sat on multiple rounds of soul-searching to identify signals and sift all noises out, organize what was absolutely essential and trash everything else, discover techniques and disciplinary habits to survive and stay on course. In one such moment of reflection, I took this life-changing decision to boot out newspapers and television, which were gnawing at my life and well-being day-after-day-after-day.
On this new year day, I remembered that momentous decision and felt like the scene had not changed even a wee-bit over the past 12 years. In this short recollection, I want to share a few reasons, why media continues to be on top of my ‘No-no’ list even now. Here are those reasons:
Reason 1: Irrelevant and distracting
Like many people, I believe in a goal-driven life. My thoughts, words and actions are broadly guided, by either my goals or my responsibilities. In my experience, media (mainly, newspapers and television) contain stuff that have no meaning to me in terms of either my goals or my obligations. For example, a report of a strife somewhere or a policitcal debate on a policy announcement do not help me serve my customers in a better way, nor do they contribute to my health or children’s education or my personal finance. Likewise, more than 90% of the media content are absolutely irrelevant to my life and hence are a big-time distraction, which take me away from my main purpose and pursuits.
Reason 2: Opinions and not truth
Certain matters, reported in the media, do seem to have a little bearing on my life and transactions. However, in most of those cases too, media reports more of opinions than of facts. Even where facts are reported, they are either trivial or partial. I never get to understand the total picture of any subject or situation, by simply going through the media content. Partial reports and lop-sided opinions, end up confusing and injecting, in my mind, unwanted prejudices, which I am better-off without.
Reason 3: Noisy and negative
All content are reported in equal terms. Economic policy announcements, Sports events and Education news get reported on par with the news about a local brawl. Content of all hues and categories are mixed up, thus creating layers and layers of noise above a few important stuff, which may have some remote relevance. Moreover, the language employed by the reporters is negative and offensive to my sensibilities. These news reports bemoan more than they celebrate. Willingly getting exposed to such a negativity as reported in the media makes me depressed and robs me of all hope about life and people. (Also read my thoughts titled ‘So, you poison yourself every day!‘, in which I talk about the toxic nature of media content and its deleterious impact on our existence).
Reason 4: Littered with advertisements
As in many businesses, media sells content either free or cheap. Invariably, in all those businesses, customer becomes the product. My time and attention are taken away and sold to the advertisers by the media houses. Even if I am a little aware and choose to skip the commercial interruptions, getting past all of them to find ‘my’ content, is a friction-filled process. Consuming news that way, is painful, costly, ineffective and inefficient.
Reason 5: Poorly organized content
In a typical newspaper as also in televison, stuff is organized as per the whims of the provider. There is no way for me to organize the content and make it easy for me to search and consume matters of my interest. Further, even if I have freedom in choosing what I want to consume, I have absolutely no freedom in filtering out or refusing to buy, what I do not want to consume. In other words, if I am interested only in sports, a typical newspaper will have everything else too, which I have no freedom in saying ‘no’ to. Whether I need it or not, I have to buy the entire stuff, as bundled and thrown at me by the provider.
Reason 6: Effort-intensive content consumption
Lastly, there are no media formats that provide micro news or easily consumable news capsules. Typical newspapers contain big write-ups that are not only time-consuming and effort-ful to read, but also pose a comprehending challenge to me, especially when time is premium.
I earnestly hope that some of these reasons may resonate with you and help you get a perspective for your own life. I will be eager to understand, you own reasons for avoiding media or accommodating it as a vital part of your life.