In the first week of December 2017 I received a rather strong intuition. More than an intuition, it was more like a “demand.” And basically, this intuition told me to largely “disconnect” from the media.
And I immediately did. And the positive impact on my emotional well-being was so profound—not to mention all the extra time I had to do things that were really important—that I’m going to detail for you exactly what happened.
The gist of it was, I had this deep conviction that if I entered 2018 continuing to follow the media with all the constant “hit refresh” fervor I had been doing for the past…almost 20 years now???…I would become completely lost, utterly swallowed up in the sea of outrage and schadenfreude and continually upset and incapable of getting anything done in my life.
Now, I’ve been telling myself exactly this for years, but never really “stuck” to any sort of “media fast.” The possibility of “missing out” on any type of hugely important “breaking news” was just too great.
But the fact that this intuition in December so profoundly struck me that I actually went through with a media fast for any significant length of time…it was almost spooky, is what it was. It was a very strong signal.
First, the details of the fast:
No visiting of my usual online newsy “haunts”
No aimless browsing on Twitter or Facebook for news
No clicking on “Trending Topics”
No clicking on comment sections
Shutting off “news” push notifications on my phone
Now, what I could do is look up a specific topic—say, North Korea—on Google and read several articles. When I did so, I tried to stick with the most informative, rational sources of news I could find instead of articles with definite agendas (this often ended up depositing me at financial news sites, seemingly written for high-powered people who don’t need to have touch-button manipulation performed on their primal ids 100s of times a day).
I also picked up news second-hand from other people (can’t be avoided), as well as from glances at the Facebook trending topics list (also can’t be avoided; 3 lines of the stuff reads like a haiku of global dysfunction) and even the headlines on the newspapers at my local shop.
The second really big part of the media fast is what I did with all that extra time—and there was a lot of it, more than I ever expected.
I enrolled in several online classes as well as a program to learn Portuguese. Whenever I felt the anxious craving to consume more news/schadenfreude, I turned to the classes.
After about a week on this fast, I felt 75% more calm, positive, and productive in my life. After two weeks, I felt like a completely different person. All that collective negative energy—both from the media itself and from the reactivity of the public—was no longer in my life.
Before, I might have been stirred up with anger (often from the very moment I woke up still in bed, reading my phone) over several different outrages a day—energy, intensified from the vitriol from social media and comment sections, that I would carry (in my mind and body) long after the story itself had been read. But now I re-routed my energy to things that seemed more productive.
To be clear, this is not about putting one’s head in the sand. If anything, I want to understand my world and its important issues even more clearly—but I desire to go about it in a very proactive and empowered way. I still care about social issues, but I want to divert some of that empathy and desire for positive change into making myself more truly educated on the topics, increasing my skill set, and—and this might be the most important—working to make myself a better person.
Because it truly does start with me. I can’t help fix the world if I’m an anxious, angry, gibbering mess triggered by every bit of propaganda from every side, swimming in a sea of rage populated by other anxious angry people and assorted bots.
Will I go back to my previous online media habits? No. I’m planning to invest in one good weekly news magazine (print, to cut down on the amount of time I’m in front of a screen), one good newspaper, subscribe to a manageable number of pertinent websites that email me direct notifications regarding new stories, and continue to proactively research specific current events.
And I will update you on how it goes.
More to read about on Butterfly Language:
10 Positive Things You Can Do To Prepare For An Economic Downturn
The #1 Key To Significantly Changing Your Life For The Better
Online Spiritual Hygiene