A couple years ago, I got into a habit of rigorously following the news cycle. I watched the the spikes in the stock market and the shifts in the value of the dollar. I learned about civil wars in countries I’d barely heard of, and natural disasters in affecting people I didn’t know, in places that I’ve never seen. I heard pundits argue the consequences of this bill getting struck down, or that supreme court outcome. I read about tech trends and the newest hot bluetooth docking station, and which social media company was going to “win.”
And what do I have to show for it?
Very little. I’m sure that these things influenced me in various ways. I may have picked up a vocab word here or there. But how does knowing the summer 2012 Romney vs Obama popularity polls, or the latest results from the monthly jobs report actually benefit me? Do I actually need to watch the Olympics, or the Superbowl commercials, or the Grammys? Do I need to know the gender of the royal baby the instant it is public information, or can I wait 60 years until he’s a political figure?
Derek Sivers noted that if you came out of multiple years of isolation and asked somebody what you missed, they could probably summarize it in a couple sentences. I’ve lived multiple years in isolation. He’s right.
Of all I could have gained for the time spent drenched in the news cycle, I can only feel regret. Regret that I could have used that time to experiment, learn new skills, make things, and just satisfy my burning curiosity by doing, instead of watching.