Newspapers — My Cultivated Ignorance

I actively try to not follow the daily news. It’s toxic. So focused on negativity, outrage, and disaster. Let me explain.

“How satisfying it is to dismiss and block out any upsetting or foreign impression, and immediately to have peace in all things.” —MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 5.2

The Stoics were mercifully spared the information overload endemic to today’s society. They had no social media, no newspapers, no television chatter to rile them up. But even back then, an undisciplined person would have found plenty to be distracted and upset by. Part of the Stoic mindset then was a sort of a cultivated ignorance.

~ Daily Stoic - Nov 27

There are many things I could say about newspapers. Local as well as global or international. They make me focus on specific aspects. And most often I honestly don’t know why following these things would change anything.

I don’t want to be without information, but I don’t want to be held back by it either. And following the news carefully brings a lot of negativity with it. If I have a look at most of the big stories that come out of the US - which seem to rule the Internet. I could be frustrated all day (FCC regulations, TTIP, Brexit, or a terror attack). The same thing can be said about the European Union.

And yet? There are so many good things happening. They just seem to rarely surface in traditional media outlets. Where are the TED talks? The incredible things that are being developed? The people who bring change that’s not yet widespread? There is a ton of that. But looks like a hurricane, shooting, or crashed airplane is more important. Or at least it gets more clicks, brings fear and outrage. Don’t get me wrong! These things are horrible. But focusing on that kind of information is like putting a sticker on an infected wound and expecting it to heal without treatment.

I might be ignorant and harsh. It could be a thing of generations. Or technology is at fault. And then there is the whole new topic of fake news. There is so much we can look at. Even click baiting has reached the mainstream outlets! So where should I look to actually be informed about important things with a message? Something that helps me understand the problem at hand better? And then be able to form an opinion to do something with.

Conclusion? I don’t read or watch a lot of news, but I still feel informed enough in general. Not following them closely gives me the ability to focus on other things. Work on my projects more easily without being distracted by the things I can’t change right now. And it might be hard to read, but just because there was a German person on a flight that crashed? Does not make the news more important than the deaths of children because of hunger. One is a one-time event that will probably not happen again for a very long time. The other happens every single day!