The News Wasteland

When I was an LDS missionary, I spent two years completely disconnected from basically all news sources.

No newspapers, no TV, no internet.

So when I returned, I started asking people “what did I miss?” I could summarize it all in a couple sentences:

“The economy is doing badly because of a housing crisis. Nintendo came out with a game system called the Wii which is pretty revolutionary. The US Presidential candidates are Barack Obama and John McCain.”

Two years of news and that was it. Sure, other things were happening but they simply weren’t meaningful to me. Maybe they would be at some day, but until then, I didn’t need to know about them.

That experience taught me what others have confirmed since then… that the news landscape is mostly a vast wasteland of useless stuff that most people don’t actually need to know.

I’m not pro-ignorance. I’m constantly learning, but I try to stick to sources that have substance and relevance. I prefer books that contain conclusions derived from thousands of hours of research relevant to the problems I’m trying to solve. I focus on blogs and podcasts that inspire me to work smarter and live better.

Even then, I’m sure I could be a lot more selective. I’ve long since unsubscribed to CNN and Mashable, but I’m still embarrassed by the percentage of time that I spend consuming vs creating.

I’d rather let other people curate what’s important, spending their time and energy mired in the news wasteland. I’m content to pop my head up every once and awhile, get an overview, and then go back to my business.