I am an avid listener/watcher of YouTuber CGP Grey and his latest video covers the topic of happiness and misery. He borrows heavily from the book How to Be Miserable: 40 Strategies You Already Use by Randy J. Paterson. I dislike self-help books as a rule, however, this book was different. It is still a self-help book, but at least it attempts to do something different. CGP Grey’s video and this book spoke to something about how I live my life.
The book contains tips for misery. Essentially, it is a self-help book in reverse; to lead a life of misery, follow these steps. I have noticed that I do more than a couple of these, though I imagine most of us do. I found the chapter related to news consumption particularly intriguing.
News has always focused on the negatives and rarely on the positives. Especially over the past few months. I have found the constant stream of controversy about the US and Russia, Syria, as well as the ever-looming threat of terrorism a constant drain. Having been a habitual viewer of the news for as long as I can remember I believe that being current was an important part of being a global citizen. But at what point does it go from a healthy desire to stay current, to an endless source of soul-sucking darkness? This is a question that everyone must answer individually for themselves. I have reached my limit.
The most popular news website in Australia is News.com.au. It is what you would expect a major news website to be, though it contains far too much tabloid rubbish for a legitimate source of the News. The constant stream of clickbaity sensationalised crap they publish led me to boycott the site. Current events had been weighing on me for a while and I thought that perhaps it was connected to this particular website.
It wasn’t. Maintaining subscriptions to News subreddits and transitioning to Google News solved nothing. I decided to try something different after reading a chapter from How to be Miserable. Instead of clicking on links to News websites every hour or so, I just wouldn’t. At least for a while.
I deleted the links to News websites, unsubscribed from news subreddits and I am going News free to see what effect, if any, it has. This is unlikely to be permanent. And it is also impossible to entirely escape current events. I still use Twitter and follow enough people that the big news events will still leak through. And that’s ok. But for now, I need a break. A long, hard earned break.