One of the things which get often discussed these days is that there is a declining trend in reading newspapers and in general act of consuming news of any sort. Working for one of the group company owning a newspaper in India means that people do look up to my opinion on this topic. As this topic was discussed yesterday I started to wonder why I am no longer interested in keeping up with the news and maybe there is a reason why people are less interested in reading the news. I discovered why I am no longer motivated to keep myself up to date with the latest news
Value racing to the bottom?
One of the first thing which came to my mind is what sort of news is relevant to me. After digging deep and thinking a lot I realised that most of what is passed off as news is something which is not relevant to how I live my daily life. They do often make up for interesting reading but add no real value to me. The other aspect to note is that there has been a big explosion in the amount of news produced in various forms. This is partly driven by the cost of news production coming down so much so that anyone with a decent bank balance can now open a news channel/website and spread their agenda. Given all this insane competition it is quite natural that the news outlets are going to focus on producing more news (which means manufacter news) and more of it is going to be sensational so that it stands out. Thus the news which is being produced is of lower quality and low-value addition to readers.
What sort of news sells?
The news produced and dished out is of lower quality but what sort of news is it? By nature, we humans love to hear sensational and negative news. This is because of our primal instinct of survival so we tend to want to be aware of threats and risks. Due to this, we tend to like to read more negative news than positive news. Given the increased competition and the costs of producing news falling, most news which is produced will be negative & divisive in nature. Thus over time, you would have noticed that with more news being produced it is getting more and more negative. The more your mind reads and ruminates over the negative news you will see more of the negative things in your life.
Frame of Mind
During a podcast, Tim Ferris mentioned something about having a positive frame of mind when viewing how things in your life work. The important thing which he mentioned was a simple analogy which highlighted the frame of mind in which we see the world. It is a simple phenomenon which happens when you start observing something very closely you will see more of it all around. Imagine you decide to buy a ‘Toyota Innova’ for your family and then suddenly you begin to notice a lot of Innovas when on road. It is not that your wanting to buy the vehicle has caused a sudden increase in the number of Innova’s on the road. It is just that your mind which has started to see and observe the details in the cars to discover that there are more Innova’s on the road. This is because when you start thinking about owning one your frame of mind becomes related to it and hence you start noticing it more often. This is the same reason why one should avoid chewing on the negative news as it sets you in the negative frame of mind and when you start seeing the world with that frame you tend to notice more of the negative news in the world rather than the positive ones.
Given this 3 observations i.e new is not making a big difference to how I live my life, quality of news being lowered and more negative news. I took this stand in November to stop following news and this is helped me see a lot of things in a positive light. The only downside is that I am no longer able to participate and put out my opinions in general conversations over lunch or with friends. But that is a small price to pay for staying away from negative thoughts in your frame of mind.
PS: I do read business news because of my deep interest in Long term equity investing, but I control what I consume by following up a couple of good handles on Twitter!