Sam Radford

March 4, 2022

Consuming news sanely

Oliver Burkeman makes the case for cultivating new skills to ensure we engage with news in ways that don’t destroy us: 

…figuring out how to consume news sanely – how to keep your head, when everyone on social media is losing theirs – is only going to become an even more critical skill for living a composed and purposeful life.

He says that cutting ourselves off completely from the news won’t work. Nor will simply finding ways to block it out by being kind to ourselves. We need a healthy approach that allows us to engage with the news without it taking over our lives.

So, according to Burkeman, we should check in the with news, but no more than a couple of times a day, and not for unnecessarily extended times. And then, having caught up on the news, we need to walk away. Get on with something else.

As Burkeman writes:

It's been common in recent days to see people complaining that it's hard to get any work done, or to get on with ordinary life in general. But this may be the moment for a judicious measure of tough love. Perhaps you just need to get on with things anyway! If you wait, instead, for all the existential threats to pass, all the desperate human suffering to subside, you'll be waiting forever.

For me, I have a window each morning—maximum 30 minutes—where I check in on the news. And I do this with intention, going to a couple of news sites, reading key articles. I don’t scroll through Twitter and get caught up in whatever is consuming Twitter’s attention at any given moment. I then do something similar, though for much less time, towards the end of the day. I also have a preference for publications, like The Economist, that have a slower rhythm to writing news.

Like with so much of life, the key is not all or nothing, but healthy boundaries.

—Sam

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