A word from a CEO #69

Why I don’t read or watch the news

Hi all –

Two weeks ago, I shared a list of things I wish I knew when I was younger. One was “never read/watch the news.”

I know, that might sound crazy. And some people thought it was.

But hear me out.

About five or six years ago, I was completely consumed with watching the news. And every story was terrible (I think it was the BBC that finally did me in). Death counts. Flooding. Tsunamis. Disease. I realized that it was killing me to listen to something so depressing all day every day. So I gave it up.

It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because it frees up my mind from all that worry. Rather than getting so angry all the time and feeling helpless, I chose to redirect my energy somewhere else.

One of the traps we fall into is thinking that we have the capacity to filter in only the good messages/habits/actions while ignoring the bad. I don’t think we can – for the same reason that I say that you are the average of the five people closest to you (which goes back to the old adage “show me your friends and I’ll show you your future”).

I think that no matter how hard you try, you will still absorb the negative news and opinions that you are reading or hearing. And you’ll end up using your brainpower (glycogen) trying to focus on the good and ignoring the bad. It’s a lot of work for little return, so I choose to abstain from it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not prescribing this for everyone. And this doesn’t mean that I’m not getting my news in other ways – I’m just not consuming it directly. Instead, I listen to podcasts, like Kara Swisher’s Recode Decode, read newsletters, like Shane Parrish’s Farnam Street, and get ideas from Harvard Business Review.

The bottom line is that you will find out anything important. We are too hyperconnected today for that not to happen. But I personally think it’s better to spend time consuming things that spark ideas and conversation rather than those that breed negativity.

What do you think?

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