For years now I haven’t been much into current affairs. I don’t read newspapers, usually don’t watch the TV news, and only listen to the radio if I’m in the car or the shower. Sometimes I hear radio news, sometimes I don’t.
I hate politics and politicians, don’t trust the news media, and figure if something’s significant enough I’ll hear about it.
My partner does follow politics (it’s her job) and soon lets me know about anything big.
I’ve long tracked news about Apple computers, technology, the Internet though, and recently added science, astronomy and some other topics to my list of ‘news’.
Techniques for keeping up to date have multiplied: blogs, RSS feeds, Twitter and so on all captured me.
Before long I found myself following some traditional ‘news’ media on Twitter too.
Until a couple of weeks ago when I realised I was feeling stressed, overloaded, helpless, distressed and anxious most of the time.
If I find out that dozens of people died in a bus crash in China or a plane crash in Spain I can’t fix it, I can’t do anything about it. It just fills me with sadness.
And I also realised I was reading a lot of opinion on things that didn’t materially affect my life — blog comments about Macs or Internet or whatever. Not to mention various blogs who write ever so carefully to grab attention and readers and search results and ad revenue, but that don’t actually add much value if you look a bit harder. “10 ways to do this”, “15 things you never thought you’d need”, blah blah bl blah b blah.
A week or two ago I decided to unfollow a good half of the Twitterers on my list. Apart from the current affairs tweets there was no value judgement — I just made some tough cuts.
Twitter’s actually a good source of information — people mention things, and if I feel like it I follow links or check with Google.
I also exported my RSS feed list as an OPML file, then deleted the whole lot — more than 200 feeds. I’ve added back a dozen feeds for my own sites or sites I take care of in some way, a dozen ‘fun’ feeds — comics and the like, and a very, very few feeds from select individuals or industry sources. I now have around 30 feeds.
That was hard. I’ve cut numerous valuable and useful feeds, including several I really ought to follow for some of the unpaid work I do. But, no, they’re gone!
Of course, I don’t know what I’m missing, but as yet I don’t seem to have missed anything much. So far, so much better.
I guess it’s a kind of information maturity. In my youth I encountered alcohol. Several times I drank far too much. But then I grew older and wiser.
I’ve also had youthful phases of eating too much at the buffet, or taking home unused soaps from hotel bathrooms, accepting the free junk that came with a hamburger, even reading all the books one summer holiday that were in the senior bookroom at the school I was teaching at.
It’s that pendulum process of being exposed to plenty and taking more than your fill before maturing to moderation. With information abundant I oversubscribed.
I suspect I’ve cut back too far in the pendulum backswing. Balance will find its own level in time.