Whenever I tell someone that I do not watch TV News or read news in the papers everyday I get an angry look back and then they tell me something in the line of what I do is not right and I am crazy. I have been thinking about writing a blog post on this topic for a long time but I have been postponing it. Now I have got the courage to tell the world how crazy I am and I hope at least a few people would be as crazy as me to agree to my opinion. (Actually some already have!).
Before we talk about why I do not watch news, let me make it clear that this is not a joke and what I am saying is true. I have not been following the news for the past 3 to 4 years. I don’t watch TV and I do not subscribe to the newspaper. Even if someone in my family convinces me to subscribe, it doesn’t last for more than a month. My arguments have been so powerful that even my dad finally gave in and doesn’t follow the news.
You will do the same if you read this entire article. I insist you do so because it can convince you to disconnect from the news flow and change your life for the better. And if you do not agree to it, you are welcome to contradict my points in the comments.
A lot of high achieving entrepreneurs and successful people do not follow the news like normal citizens do. There is a science behind what I say and I can back it up with solid examples and facts.
We Pay Attention Only to Negative News
When I tell you that our city is under attack by a big gang of robbers, you are going to pay immediate attention to it. However if I tell you that our city has been awarded the best city in India in terms of cleanliness and quality of living, it is not going to get that much attention as the former one. That’s because the human mind which has evolved through millions of years is designed to pay attention to negative news because knowing about a danger may make the difference between life and death. However a good news is not as important.
The Media or Press Wants Your Attention (at Any Cost)
The media presents all the negative news in the world because it needs you to pay attention. Because when you pay attention, they can sell more newspapers and more ads on those newspapers. Same goes for TV channels.
There used to be a few newpapers and channels who reported news as close to reality as possible, but now every news delivery company is trying to make even a small bit of negative news sensational and attention grabbing. The choice of words they use are aimed at making you freeze for a moment, pay more attention and share the news with your friends and family.
Where The Real Problem Exists
Now you may ask ‘So what’s wrong in keeping ourselves informed? An important news may save our life.’ It may seem true but the answer is a big no. To prove you how and why, you need to read the following story.
The Curious Case of Shark Attacks
There was an island with a tribe of 100 people. The primary occupation of most of the inhabitants was fishing. Each day the young lads and dads go to the sea to catch fish and everyone was happy with what they got.
One day tragedy happens. A shark attacks one of the fishermen and he loses a leg. Everyone is shocked and they stay away from the ocean for a few days. They mourn his death. Then slowly things start getting to normal and usual life in the island continues. They continue to fish.
Now zoom out and consider this; there were a total of 1000 islands like this in that ocean. In each island there were a tribe of 100 people approximately. The islands were far apart that the inhabitants do not often travel to other islands and even if they do it was on a very rare occasion. They do not usually know what’s happening on the other islands.
Now a media company finds about these 1000 islands and the prehistoric people living in each island. The company sells TVs to each island in return for a few carts of fish and tells the people in those islands that they will receive interesting news from all the islands for free and also some entertaining videos. The people agree and the deal is done. Now one TV on each of the 1000 islands were installed and connected wirelessly.
On an average a shark attacks happens once in 5 years in each island. And since it happens on one day in 1825 days (5 years) and one in 50 fisherman, the probability of getting a shark attack for any man is 1 in 91,250 or 0.00001% – which is almost zero.
But when you consider all the 1000 islands, one shark attack happens every 2 days (approx) in one of the islands. (1825/1000 = 1.8). When the media company broadcasts news in the TV, it would report a dangerous shark attack where someone would have lost their hand, leg or even killed every 2 days. The media would not just report it but also show really disturbing images of the wounded person.
People see this news. Their perception of reality changes. They come to the conclusion that the sea is a dangerous place filled with sharks that kill. But in reality the probability of getting attacked is close to zero.
The people in the island stop going to the sea. They become vegetarians thus abandoning sea food forever. Once is a while famine attacks and a lot of people starve and die but they still don’t go to the sea. Their life is spent in fear and worry about the dangerous seas.
Now, consider the world we live in. Consider all the cities in the world as separate islands. You get the idea! The news you read everyday, 99% of it is not about your own city and hence it doesn’t affect your life. Though newspapers have different versions targeted at different cities, they hardly report local news which matter to you. The different versions are in their best interests and not yours. They use different versions so that they can target the ads better than the news.
Also most of the ‘news’ is not new. It just happens that they occur once in a while. A flight crashes once in a while, there is derailing, people kill each other all the time, once in a few years someone robs a bank. Random events when spread across a huge timeline always forms a pattern and it all comes down to probability.
If 1 lakh cars pass through a road per day, one is bound to hit a tree or another car. 100% driving efficiency doesn’t happen with humans and 1 in a Lakh or 0.00001% of the driver is expected to collide with something. So such things are not news at all. It is just the way it is. There is no need or use of reading about it, provided that you follow basic safety precautions.
You may ask, ‘So Deepak, are you suggesting that I completely disconnect from the newsflow?’ my answer is a big yes. And I guess that your second question will be ‘Then how can I know about important news that may affect my life?’ and my answer to it would be: People around you are going to talk about it.
That’s the beauty of it. There is a very less chance that your friends, family and colleagues are going to read this post and even if they do, they are so addicted to reading news everyday, they will not quit. And what will they talk about during breaks. So any important news like a curfew, shocking fuel price hike, change in government, change in road rules etc. will be updated to you by your friends and family.
Its like having your personal batch of secretaries who will filter the important news for you and deliver it to you in a short and precise manner in a way it matters to you. Just don’t look ignorant when you hear the news from your friends and you will do fine.
I however enjoy watching documentary movies, learning about history, reading magazines and blogs related to my business. I am not asking you to starve. I am just asking you to consume more healthy information than junk information which will make your mind obese.