Why you should stop scrolling through your newsfeed
Facebook and Twitter are the new newspapers. Just a bunch of pre-curated news that someone else tells you to read. But let me tell you a story of a real newspaper, and how it made its way into my home, and what I did with it once it arrived.
Some Jr. Highers came to my door the other day and asked if my wife and I wanted to buy an 8-week subscription to the Los Angeles Times Sunday Newspaper for $1.25 a week. “It’s going to help us pay for a college education,” they said.
Even though I don’t read the news, we said yes, because we wanted to help these kids out.
Every Sunday before church, this fat newspaper plops itself on our steps in a thin plastic baggie. Since I want to get my money’s worth (all $1.25 of it), I have tried to at least thumb through the Sunday paper every week instead of put it straight in the recycling bin.
Last week, I decided to give the whole thing a good look. 35 minutes later, I felt like I had wasted valuable time. I walked away feeling uninspired, unmotivated, and oily, both from the black ink smudges on my fingertips and the residue on my heart from reading a collection of information that gives a somewhat bleak picture of humanity.
Half of the paper was made up of advertisements and glossy coupon pamphlets that literally spilled out of my hands because there were so many. The other half of the paper gave me updates that I didn’t need to hear about things that we already know: there are crazy people out there that do bad things, there are kind people that do good things, the stock market is still unpredictable, here are some things you should buy, here’s a place you should vacation, and here’s a column on money management.
Honestly, I could do without those things (or at least search them out when I want). If this is the kind of information people consume to start their day, I understand why they’re yearning for more.
There are better ways, surely, to get informed about the human spirit and the human story. There are already enough advertisements vying for your attention and your wallet. Couldn’t you use an ad-free morning? The home should be a sacred place where we can finally sit down and focus on the soul instead of the next thing we need to buy.
I might not know every current event, natural disaster or latest happenings of Justin Bieber, but I’ve found that if a piece of news is truly important it’ll eventually find its way to me. Sometimes, it’s a little uncomfortable when something big happens, everyone’s talking about it, and I’m the ignorant one who asks the others to tell me about it. But I’d rather know the 5% of news that’s important and leave the other 95% alone.
The question then becomes what do you do with the 95% if you’re not reading the news? What if you curated your own news? What if you were the one that determined what matters instead of someone force-feeding you their version? Just because you’re given the opportunity to read the paper or scroll through social media, doesn’t mean you have to do so. What if instead of the Facebook or Twitter stories you scroll through every morning, you determined to find out about what interests you and start truly growing?
For example, here’s a morning that would be interesting to me:
- Study the Psalms and learn about suffering and the human story.
- Pick up some Peter Drucker and learn from the Management Master.
- Read a short story by John Cheever.
- Read a few liturgical prayers.
- Review my StrengthsFinder profile and think up a way to use my strengths to bless others.
What about you? You could have these incredible, custom-curated mornings that fill your life with wonder and learning and growth. It would probably look very different than the morning I just created above. But all you need to do is say no to one thing so that you can say yes to another.
I’m interested to hear about your ideas for morning routines or what you think about the news. I’m also open and ready to hear from you about why I should or should not keep reading the news.