How it started
In early 2010, I read an article about going on a media diet. The article talked about how much time we spend following news on TV, internet, magazines and newspapers. The author of the article then asked the question whether it was worth it? So, the author suggested going on a media diet and see whether it makes a difference in one’s life to not follow any news. The point was that if something is newsworthy then someone will tell you and you will be in the know. So, what’s the point in getting overloaded with information?
I followed the author’s advice and went on a media diet. The diet was for a week. In that week, you are allowed to read fiction only. You can watch movies but not news documentaries. You can watch TV but not news shows. You can read books but not on current affairs or biographies. The only way that you could found out about news was by asking your friends, colleagues or family about the day’s interesting stories from their perspective.
All my life I have been a news junkie. So, I was not sure whether I will be able to keep myself away from news for an entire week. Somehow I managed to stay on a media diet for a full week and needless to say my life has changed. Definitely for the better.
Before the media diet
I was a news junkie and read all kinds of news – politics, sports, movies, you name it. When I read news, I always tried to read between the lines and think critically. This made me form some strong opinions about anything and everything. I was also easy prey to conspiracy theories because I started believing that anything that the “media” fed you were mostly lies and you have to always look beneath the surface to find out the truth. My favorite quote was that the only thing that was true in a newspaper was the horoscope. This behavior had some effect on me personally and socially.
Personally: On a personal level most news made me angry and stressed out. Some stories do not end in a day or two and when these types of stories were prolonged then I would wait anxiously for the next twist. When the twist was what I anticipated then it would fill me up with pride that I predicted what was going to happen. When my predictions did not come true then I would get angry that the world is not headed in the right direction. The impact on a personal level was not positive and socially it was worse.
Socially: In social settings, at work or at a dinner party, I would be looking to steer the conversation towards the story that I was most interested in. When the conversation moved towards my favorite story then I tried to take the limelight, trying to show off my insights and my reading between the lines. Because I have a great group of friends, they would listen to me rant and rave about the recent stuff and not mind much, at least not openly. But sometimes there would be a few arguments which do not help out the mood of the group.
All in all, there was not much positive that happened because of my following news. Right now I cannot think of even one thing that I can note as a positive. Did I make any more money? Did I get smarter? Was I happier in some incongruous way? I don’t know. But one thing I would like to mention is that my life changed significantly after I went on a media diet.
How it changed is going to be in my next post.
Have you tried going on a media diet and what are your results?