News Is Bad For You

Apparently, the more mobile devices you have, the higher your perceived value of media is. According to BCG’s recent study, Through the Mobile Looking Glass, when you get a second mobile device, there is a 41% increase in perceived media value, a 40% increase when you get a third, and a 30% increase when you get a fourth. 

Which makes sense, if you’re spending your days juggling four mobile devices and consuming media on all of them. What could be more important than the information nuggets you’re eating all day long?

Hopefully a lot of things, considering that the nutritional value of all the information we’re consuming could be very low.

The Guardian’s Rolf Dobelli explains:

In the past few decades, the fortunate among us have recognised the hazards of living with an overabundance of food (obesity, diabetes) and have started to change our diets. But most of us do not yet understand that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don’t really concern our lives and don’t require thinking. That’s why we experience almost no saturation. Unlike reading books and long magazine articles (which require thinking), we can swallow limitless quantities of news flashes, which are bright-coloured candies for the mind. Today, we have reached the same point in relation to information that we faced 20 years ago in regard to food. We are beginning to recognise how toxic news can be.

Dobelli goes on to provide illustrative examples of the following:

  • News misleads.
  • News is irrelevant.
  • News has no explanatory power.
  • News is toxic to your body (literally).
  • News increases cognitive errors.
  • News inhibits thinking.
  • News works like a drug (you begin to crave it).
  • News wastes time.
  • News kills creativity.

Dobelli wants us to go without news. To be clear, he’s not arguing against ALL journalism. He supports investigative journalism, long-form, and books, but for the last four years has entirely removed the consumption of other (shorter) news from his diet. He’s since experienced: “less disruption, less anxiety, deeper thinking, more time, and more insights.”

FJP: Firstly, journalists simply can’t afford that kind of lifestyle and anyone active on a social network can’t avoid it. And great, illuminating, informative, well-reported, well-presented journalism is out there. But if we set aside the details of his argument (over which we could debate at length), Dobelli’s larger point (that our news consumption habits aren’t very healthy), coupled with the fact that we of the mobile generations perceive the value of media so highly, raises the most important question of all for people living in 2013: How can we construct healthy, anxiety-free, informative, enjoyable news diets that help us live better lives and understand the world better? News literacy. Just like we ought to do with food, practice consuming with balance and intention.—Jihii

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  1. briancolligan reblogged this from futurejournalismproject
  2. curiosityfuelsthiskat reblogged this from futurejournalismproject and added:
    Someone should tell Dobelli, who “supports investigative journalism, long-form and books,” that news can be great fodder...
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  8. bookhermit reblogged this from futurejournalismproject and added:
    Oh, the irony of posting this on Tumblr…
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  11. coffeebrewer17 reblogged this from futurejournalismproject and added:
    This.
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