In a world where we're so widely connected to one another and receiving a barrage of information and updates, how do you keep your head from swirling in 30 different directions?
One word that has been part of the modern vernacular is 'unprecedented'. While that may be true at times, it is a word that has been used countless times throughout the modern age as a way to keep people tuning in and following along for every step of the story.
How many times have you consistently checked back on the news, social media, or email updates just to 'stay in the loop'?
I've had people tell me that they've been so busy consuming some story that they take it upon themselves to become investigative journalists, seeing if they can find the best and most up-to-date source on a story. But if we take a step back and look at the bigger picture and recognize the dramatic narrative for what it is, how much of it will have a truly personal impact on your life?
Sure, there are people being impacted by all kinds of events that are being covered by the brilliant screenwriters that work in media outlets, but how much of them will actually personally effect you?
According to Statista.com, the average amount of time people spent consuming media in 2018 was 473 minutes per day. That's over 12 weeks per year. Over a 50-year span, that's over 11.5 years. Think about that. That's your time and life that you can't get back, time you're spending consuming information about things that will likely have minimal impact on your daily life. That's a choice you're making.
Story after story after story is coming down the pipeline at you waiting for you to consume it with angst and impatience.
Have you ever stopped to consider that maybe the people who are curating these stories need to keep you coming back as a way to sustain themselves commercially?
It's not a conspiracy. They're not conspiring; they're in business.
You don't judge the department stores for conspiring to control you every time you see an ad getting you to return to one of their stores to get your supplies. You see it as them doing business. Media is just a big business that needs people consuming their stories as a way to sustain themselves.
Why does this matter? Because if you're constantly consuming the information and trying to keep up-to-date with all of the information that is being fed to you, how much mental bandwidth are you leaving to have thoughts, ideas, and perspectives of your own? Close to none.
Ever notice that when you go on a vacation or a holiday, and you don't consume nearly as much news and media, that you feel lighter and more at ease? That's no coincidence. Sure, you're away from your everyday worries — which would be wise to address — but you're probably not consuming as much media and news as you usually do. Some part of you might be setting a psychological boundary between you and the happenings of the rest of the world.
You don't have to wait for a vacation to initiate a media detox.
You can integrate it into your everyday life. Most people who go on a media detox, eventually creep back into the vicious cycle of the hamster wheel after several weeks.
You can try this instead (it's what I do):
Give yourself a month of no media. Yes, that's right. A whole month. Consume as little as possible, if nothing at all. You know what happens when you do that? Any news that's important for you to know about will find you. People you're in contact with will end up telling you about it. It's brilliant the way that works out for you. It's the way news and information used to get spread. Those who need to know will find out through means of people communicating with each other.
Here's the other more important thing that happens: You're not being distracted by drama and excitement which leaves you with a huge amount of mental room to address the things you've been avoiding addressing.
People who are consumed by news, drama, excitement, and gossip are more interested in what everyone else is doing than actually doing something fulfilling with their own lives. The focus on other people and events keeps you away from addressing the more pressing issue at hand: your life.
Those who are honestly more interested in finding meaning and fulfillment in their own lives have little or no interest in the news and media because living out their lives is consuming enough as it is. Any time-consuming information fed to them by other businesses is too much of a distraction.
Allow yourself to focus on exploring what fulfills you. Use the inherent courage you have to seriously confront your inspirations and the things that give you a sense of meaning in life. When that happens, the media begins to look like a 3-year-old tugging on your shirt for attention instead of a reputable and respectable adult.
One last thought that will help you reset and pull yourself away from the rabbit-hole that is the news: you won't get to the end of your life feeling grateful that you spent years of your life focussed on things that meant nothing to you and took you away from doing something meaningful.
Get back to exploring your own life instead of focussing on everyone else's. Your future self will thank you.