Khalil Trabelsi

Khalil Trabelsi

Community Manager and Producer of Happiness

Why you should stop watching the news!

News Headlines..! Always with red bold text and all caps! meticulously designed to grab your attention.. and usually followed with a bunch of stories containing problems with NO solutions. 

I’m a journalist who consumes a lot of news, especially in the morning before starting our editorial meeting at work, to decide later on what stories should we cover. After a while, I started thinking it’s kind of weird to start your day with news about murders, kidnapping, protests, sexual assaults, bombing, and other shocking graphic content! But at the same time, I was saying to myself that it was fine… I got used to it and it was extremely important for me to follow what’s going on in the world. And I didn’t know that those little doses of negativity were fueling something inside me

70% of my dedicated time to news goes to Tunisia, since I’m abroad, I have that feeling that if I didn’t check what’s going on there I would still need that missing pill! I realized that News I’m watching about Tunisia -and emotionally invested in- is a constant loop of the same 3 or 4 stories: Boring footage from the national TV about members of the parliament fighting… Shouting… Talking about everything but with no concrete results, protests in the streets, Coronavirus cases numbers, and death rates… In addition to that, you will hear week after week about a shocking story that goes viral on social media for several days, and then it disappears… Headlines like a kidnapped 4-year-old boy found dead or a prominent politician involved in a bribery scandal, or a Leaked video of a rape that shook the internet! Etc… All in loop! And it’s approximately the same 3 or 4 stories in any country in the world.

5 Reasons to stop watching the news! 

The title above seems a little bit awkward right?! Can we really stop watching the news? Rolf Dobelli is a Swiss author and businessman who proclaimed that he abstained from watching the news for many years and recently published a book to speak about the damage news does to our mental health and well-being. So if you say to yourself that it is impossible to stay away from the news, this guy made it possible. Rolf wrote in “De Correspondant” a Dutch news website: “News is to the mind what sugar is to the body: appetizing, easily digestible, and extremely damaging”. And as a news junkie, I totally agree with this! And I decided and promised myself to reduce as much as possible my consumption of News and restrict it to only investigative journalism websites that focus only and essentially on in-depth coverages. Here is why I decided to reduce my consumption of News: 

News is toxic and rarely makes you happy:  

Have you ever seen on TV a joyful News bulletin and full of positive stories? I doubt. Even the sound of the intro is awkwardly serious and scary. Many studies investigated the psychological effects of negative news. In one of them, three groups were shown 14 minutes of TV news bulletins that were edited to display either positive, neutral, or negative-valenced material: Participants who watched the negatively valenced bulletin showed increases in both anxious and sad mood, and also showed a significant increase in the tendency to catastrophize a personal worry.  According to another study (Shoshani & Slone, 2008), television viewers run the risk of becoming a “secondary victim” of a terrorist attack for instance due to indirect exposure to such events. Another study (Schuster et al, 2001) found that increasing exposure to television news in the days following 9/11 was related to substantial stress reactions indicative of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

News makes you passive and pessimistic: 

News stories are about things usually I cannot change. The daily repetition of news about things I can’t act upon makes me feel passive, pessimistic, cynic, sarcastic, and sometimes desensitized! Like one of those motivational speakers said on Youtube (and I forgot his/her name): if you’re someone who wants to achieve big things in life, you should stay away from the news and start with working on your mindset, because if your brain is full of negative thoughts and dramatic flash news… You won’t achieve anything!

News is wasting your time and killing your creativity: 

Do you often regret watching the news on TV after spending 15 minutes or more consuming negative vibes? Yes? Me too. Imagine if you spent that time daily reading a book or learning a new language or even playing chess… Wouldn’t it be better? I’ll tell you a gossip: I’ve never seen a journalist who became a billionaire just by reporting news and sad stories. And I’ve never heard about an inventor, or a scientist, or a creative mind in general who follows the news every day. 

Thinking requires concentration! And concentration requires getting away from all the distractions around you to help you concentrate on creating or inventing something new, or even accomplish those tiny tasks that you’re postponing to the next day to feel that you’ve done something and prove to yourself that you really mean a lot to this world and you’re not useless.

Do you think you’re staying informed? Absolutely not! 

If you think that following the news daily is a way to stay up-to-date, you’re maybe wrong. You’re stuffing your brain with a lot of info that you don’t really need or use. When you’re watching the news on TV, you’re letting someone decide for you what’s important and what’s worth your attention – Just like the algorithm on Facebook or Twitter- and that way, you’re unintentionally filling your brain with many things that you don’t want to see or consume. So choose what you want to read or watch carefully, If you can’t get away from the news, like me, and decide at least to reduce your exposure, choose in-depth news websites that provide a more analytic interpretation of the story and remove those breaking news alerts on your device! 

News makes the world appear worse than it truly is!

If it bleeds… It leads” a commonly used phrase by journalists which basically means that if the footage contains crime scenes, murders, dead bodies and a lot of blood… It will lead to more views or traffic to the website in order to get advertisers so that profits soar. 

Research psychologists have found that people are subject to negative biases. These powerful biases may influence how journalists produce the news and how citizens consume it. Fear-based stories prey on our anxieties. What we all see nowadays on TV or on social media is spectacular, stirring, and controversial journalism! There may be hundreds of good things that happened that day in your country or region, but what news will focus on is bad news. 

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