Author Topic: What does your low-information diet look like?  (Read 3295 times)

kay02

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What does your low-information diet look like?
« on: March 18, 2022, 10:23:06 AM »
Hi everyone,

For a while I was able to completely ignore the news after being overwhelmed by it in the early part of the pandemic.  I used to drive to work and I'd turn on NPR every day.  It was ~important~ because things were constantly evolving, but eventually that stopped and I kept listening anyway.  I've tried unplugging since, but the 2020 election drew me back in, then Delta/Omicron, and now everything with the Russia and Ukraine conflict.  I don't even listen to NPR anymore, it's mostly turned into social media news sources which feels worse for me and less productive than ever.  How do you "stay informed" without totally disconnecting? Part of me wants to go old school and just subscribe to a weekly newspaper and read that once a week and totally  ignore everything else.

I know news and especially opiniony-rage-inducing-outrage-social-media-style "news" is terrible for my mental health.  I also watched the social dilemma recently and it scared me a lot.  I really just want to unplug but I don't want to be totally in the dark.

Thanks!! :)

Watchmaker

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2022, 10:45:41 AM »
I don't happen to think a low-information diet is a good thing, and the ability to chose to have one comes from a place of privilege-- of knowing you won't be effected by whatever is going on. Plus information is one of my favorite things in the world, why would I want to avoid it?

High-quality information is far superior to junk food info though. Stop getting your news from social media. Consider stopping using social media all together, or do as I do and only follow organizations that post pictures of puppies and kayaks. NPR was a great source of information-- go back to that. Subscribing to a good paper would be another excellent choice.

Zikoris

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #2 on: March 18, 2022, 11:48:41 AM »
I don't happen to think a low-information diet is a good thing, and the ability to chose to have one comes from a place of privilege-- of knowing you won't be effected by whatever is going on. Plus information is one of my favorite things in the world, why would I want to avoid it?

High-quality information is far superior to junk food info though. Stop getting your news from social media. Consider stopping using social media all together, or do as I do and only follow organizations that post pictures of puppies and kayaks. NPR was a great source of information-- go back to that. Subscribing to a good paper would be another excellent choice.

You do realize your first paragraph criticizes the low-information diet, and your second paragraph describes exactly what it is and espouses it?

Watchmaker

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2022, 11:58:51 AM »
I don't happen to think a low-information diet is a good thing, and the ability to chose to have one comes from a place of privilege-- of knowing you won't be effected by whatever is going on. Plus information is one of my favorite things in the world, why would I want to avoid it?

High-quality information is far superior to junk food info though. Stop getting your news from social media. Consider stopping using social media all together, or do as I do and only follow organizations that post pictures of puppies and kayaks. NPR was a great source of information-- go back to that. Subscribing to a good paper would be another excellent choice.

You do realize your first paragraph criticizes the low-information diet, and your second paragraph describes exactly what it is and espouses it?

No, because it doesn't.

I'm advocating for a high-quality and high-quantity information diet.

Boll weevil

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2022, 12:08:43 PM »
In some ways it depends on why you want to lower your news intake. Back before there were paywalls, I would go around to several news sites and open the stories I was interested in in new tabs. Some nights Iíd have 50 or 60 tabs open. I didnít have a TV at the time, so I had the time to go through and read all of them. At some point, it started feeling more like a chore and less of something I was actually interested in doing. Same thing has happened for some weekly magazines. And then I realized there was nothing forcing me to inhale all that news, and I could reduce the intake significantly without much consequence.

So my current general approach is

1. Watch the local news in the morning as Iím waking up/eating breakfast/getting ready. Pay attention to the weather. They also provide a very high level discussion of whatís going on, but rarely deep enough to get worked up about. Donít listen to NPR during the commuteÖ stick with music.

2. During the day, check the headlines of a few trusted news sources. I use a combination of local and national sources. It helps if they have a paywall and you donít subscribe because you are forced to become selective about which articles you choose to read (or you stop using those sources and instead rely on secondary reporting from AP or Reuters). If youíre fairly familiar with the issue/story, you can get a sense of where itís going from the headline alone. I generally try to avoid articles that try to predict what will happen.

3. At lunch, read a magazine. It forces me to take not read the whole thing in one go, but provides depth on the issues.

4. Donít feel obligated to watch the evening news. Itís usually just a repeat of the headlines I read earlier in the day.

5. The ďnewsĒ channels are mostly commentary after 6 or 7 PM. Watch sparingly if at all. If I find myself getting worked up about what somebody is saying or it seems pointless, I change the channel to something not news. Sports, sitcoms, true crime, whatever, just not news.

Other observations
- It helps a lot if you are able to surround yourself with people who donít get too worked up over the issues. Then you donít feel obligated to fact check or set them straight.
- Intake news as much as you can from reading instead of TV/documentaries or radio/podcasts.  I find I get less worked up or can pause and work through the points much easier while reading. You also skip background audio and/or video effects which are intended to lead to a certain emotion.
-Differentiate between facts, context/analysis, and opinion. Realize the context/analysis often has an agenda. Think through whether the context/analysis is incomplete to push that agenda (in other words, what are the practical, real world obstacles that must be overcome for the proposed state of affairs to exist?) At some point I started to mentally just filter out/bypass analysis and opinions I donít agree with or deem to be not workable.

Zikoris

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2022, 12:24:18 PM »
I don't happen to think a low-information diet is a good thing, and the ability to chose to have one comes from a place of privilege-- of knowing you won't be effected by whatever is going on. Plus information is one of my favorite things in the world, why would I want to avoid it?

High-quality information is far superior to junk food info though. Stop getting your news from social media. Consider stopping using social media all together, or do as I do and only follow organizations that post pictures of puppies and kayaks. NPR was a great source of information-- go back to that. Subscribing to a good paper would be another excellent choice.

You do realize your first paragraph criticizes the low-information diet, and your second paragraph describes exactly what it is and espouses it?

No, because it doesn't.

I'm advocating for a high-quality and high-quantity information diet.

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/10/01/the-low-information-diet/

Watchmaker

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2022, 12:40:22 PM »
I don't happen to think a low-information diet is a good thing, and the ability to chose to have one comes from a place of privilege-- of knowing you won't be effected by whatever is going on. Plus information is one of my favorite things in the world, why would I want to avoid it?

High-quality information is far superior to junk food info though. Stop getting your news from social media. Consider stopping using social media all together, or do as I do and only follow organizations that post pictures of puppies and kayaks. NPR was a great source of information-- go back to that. Subscribing to a good paper would be another excellent choice.

You do realize your first paragraph criticizes the low-information diet, and your second paragraph describes exactly what it is and espouses it?

No, because it doesn't.

I'm advocating for a high-quality and high-quantity information diet.

https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/10/01/the-low-information-diet/


Your point? I've read that. To pull a few quotes that I disagree with:

"you too should be paying absolutely no attention to the daily news"
"You need to get the News out of your life, right away, and for life.Ē
"All of which brings us nicely to the real point of this article: itís not just the news that is the enemy. Itís all forms of irrelevant information."

That last one hits at the heart of my issue with MMM's take here. You don't know what is irrelevant a priori (you don't know what you don't know). Anything could turn out to be useful or interesting, so I want to take in as much high quality information as I can. Yes, I agree with him that good quality information is better than low quality information (so does everybody), but if that was the point, it would be called the high-quality information diet.





Sibley

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2022, 01:54:40 PM »
Watchmaker, I think you have a different definition and are thus arguing with someone who agrees with you over what is essentially a terminology difference.

---
For my low information diet - I don't watch tv news. Don't have cable. I have an online subscription to Washington Post (which honestly, I'm not loving, probably should switch that to NY Times). I skim headlines, read a bit that catches my interest. Big events will show up on the social media sites I'm on, here, or I'll hear it in passing in real life. I can then go look for more information.

K_in_the_kitchen

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2022, 06:35:48 PM »
So I often I see the desire for a low information diet called out as something only the privileged can do, and I just don't get it.

Most of the lower income people I know already take in less information than the higher income people I know.  It's often a time issue; who has time to scroll social media sites and news sites for information all day?  My husband can do that while working his white collar job, but my dad had zero time for scrolling during his blue collar work shift.  He would catch whatever news was on the radio on the way home, if he felt like listening to it.  More often he would turn to talk radio during his commute, getting his (mis)information that way.

I also don't buy that a privileged person can ignore news because they aren't affected by whatever is going on.  Everyone was impacted by Covid.  But my dad doesn't give two cents about a stock market drop, because he has zero money in the stock market.  That news isn't aimed at him.  He also doesn't care about medical studies, celebrities, sports, and all sorts of other "news".

I'm a proponent of a low information diet, and also of choosing high quality information.  I am only one human being, and I could choose to be bombarded for hours daily with all sorts of irrelevant information, but it wouldn't be good for me.  I don't need to keep track of the weather other places, even if a storm is coming to them.  I don't need to know about train derailments and interstate pileups that don't happen near me.  I don't need daily doses of politics, be they local, state, or federal.  I don't even need a bomb by bomb account of the war in Ukraine.  Terrible things happen everywhere and everyday, and there's no way I could be informed about all of them even if I wanted to, which means it can't all be reported on, which means there's plenty of bias in the news even if you take way political news.  We hear far more about missing white women, for example, than about missing Black women (and other non-white women).  Missing white teens are more likely to be considered victims, missing brown and Black teens are more likely to be considered runaways.  It goes on and on ...

Like you, OP, I've found it harder to let go of taking in too much information in a post Covid, war-ridden, inflationary world.  Part of this is because I got used to needing to checks new often because of how quickly things were changing, but part of it is because intellectual, educated people look down on people who don't stay "up-to-date", and assume that my lack of knowledge means I'm stupid (and they already think I'm stupid because I'm not in the workforce).  I'm not stupid.  I've been the highly informed person in the past.  But I'm old enough now to realize that every hour spent taking in unnecessary information and then worrying about it is an hour I can't get back.  I'm old enough to recognize the ill effects too much news has on my mental health.  I'm educated enough to know that human beings aren't really great with so much information.  And I want more from my life.

This is how I manage it, as best I can.

I don't use Twitter, unless I intentionally look up something that just happened, like an earthquake I felt, or want information on close by wildfires.  I usually forget Twitter exists.
I don't use Facebook.
I read the NY Times in the app maybe once or twice a week.  I get this free from my library but have to put in a code, so I'm naturally limited by my laziness.
I browse the LA Times for more in-depth coverage of state issues, and for their pieces that focus on the Latinx community.
I take my local paper, which is a weekly.
I don't watch TV news, and haven't for decades now.
I don't listen to radio news.

I will read or listen to NPR pieces that my husband recommends.  I occasionally read more in-depth articles in The Atlantic.  And I look up anything I hear about that piques my interest, such as checking out first image from the James Webb telescope.

I get enough information.

Taran Wanderer

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2022, 07:07:45 PM »
Daily: Wake up. Do the Wordle, the Nerdle, the Worldle, then the other games on the NYT site, check CNN, BBC, and our local big city online paper. Check the market. Occasionally check The Guardian and Fox News for additional perspectives.

Weekly: Time Magazine, local paper.

Monthly: The Atlantic, National Geographic, industry magazines.

Yeah, so not low info. But at least almost zero TV news.

kay02

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2022, 07:46:54 PM »
Thank you everyone for all the replies!!

Mostly it's hard for me to figure out what should make the cut to be worth reading/learning about news-wise.  Covid and related things was obviously pertinent at first but right now there's not much more to say about that.  Russia in Ukraine feels historic but like someone said, I don't need every beat of the story.  It's "easier" to just turn on a source like the radio or Reddit or whatever to have headlines in front of me, but that is not actually choosing anything beyond letting the whims of others direct my attention.

Taran Wanderer

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2022, 08:06:41 PM »
If you want thoughtful conversation about Ukraine, the ďUkraineĒ thread on this forum is excellent.

samanil

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2022, 08:25:02 PM »
I practice digital minimalism, following the principles of the book by Cal Newport. I use the freedom app to disable many features on my phone and computer except at certain times (only have access to email once a day, only have access to reddit and youtube for 1 hour per week on Saturday mornings).

I mostly just read books, but I've started experimenting with listening to podcasts for news. I have listened to a few of "The Daily" podcasts about Ukraine, and it seems like a good way to learn about what's going on. It's basically a discussion between a reporter and an expert who gives somewhat long form and nuanced answers to questions. I'm not interested in hearing about daily twists and turns (like I'm not interested in the daily vicissitudes of the market) so I am content listening to one podcast about Ukraine per week. I'm also not interested in consuming the news through websites where there are links and clickbait assaulting your attention span while you are trying to read information.

I listen to podcasts through spotify. I used to have spotify on my phone but found that the podcasts with videos (ie Joe Rogan Experience) were too addictive on the phone. So I deleted it off the phone and now use it through my laptop, which is a much less addictive for podcasts and music. I find that I am more likely to put on an album or playlist and just let it play, instead of constantly switching.

gooki

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2022, 04:06:45 AM »
Quote
Mostly it's hard for me to figure out what should make the cut to be worth reading/learning about news-wise. 

My recommendation. Cut all the news sources out for three months and see how you go. You'll be amazed how much you'll absorb from your day to day life.

Once they're all gone you can the add one new source back in at a time and judge its value. I doubt you will want to as you'll have realized a low information diet doesn't actually make you any less informed on topics that sit within the first two circles of control.

https://www.leaneast.com/7-habits

As for my personal low information diet. I exclusively visit special interest sites related to my hobbies and that's it. Everything else I pick up from discussions I stumble into online and in person.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2022, 04:53:28 AM by gooki »

kay02

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2022, 07:39:51 AM »
Quote
Mostly it's hard for me to figure out what should make the cut to be worth reading/learning about news-wise. 

My recommendation. Cut all the news sources out for three months and see how you go. You'll be amazed how much you'll absorb from your day to day life.
This is a really good idea!  But I'm self employed so I dont' interact with people as much randomly on a daily basis anymore.  I think it is still worth a shot though!

Watchmaker

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #15 on: March 19, 2022, 08:02:22 AM »
Watchmaker, I think you have a different definition and are thus arguing with someone who agrees with you over what is essentially a terminology difference.

Reading my posts yesterday, I did come across as quite argumentative, which I didn't intend. I apologize for that.

But I don't really agree that it's just a difference in definitions-- I'm pretty sure there is a genuine disagreement.

Cranky

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #16 on: March 19, 2022, 04:51:28 PM »
I like information but stick to high quality information. So I read the NYT every morning and listen to NPR. I donít read/listen to every single article, but whatever catches my interest. The NYT has some fabulous long form background pieces.

I donít consider anything on social media to be ďnewsĒ, though.

StetsTerhune

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #17 on: March 20, 2022, 11:19:22 AM »
I subscribe to The Economist (actual print edition) and *attempt* to get most of my information from there. It's weekly,  so by the time it gets to be it's quite a bit old. Honestly it seems perfect in theory, but I rarely resist the temptation to read much of it online before it gets to me. And then something will actually happen, like Russia invading Ukraine, and I'll spend weeks obsessively reading every conceivable news source.

darknight

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2022, 03:43:36 PM »
Funny you should ask.

I use social media for work (social media management & graphic design + drone photography)... I have an "excuse" to always be on social media. With the latest political (really since the last major election season) it's been painful to spend time on social media. I have family all over the spectrum on politics and religion so my feeds are generally terrible/hilarious for casual viewing. I was trying to keep up on Ukraine, Covid, and everything else - I finally pushed my app links to a separate folder, so when I habitually open that section of my phone like I have for years I don't immediately have access to FB/IG. It takes an extra step and that's when I remember to avoid it. I use the business posting/control apps for work stuff but in the last 1.5 weeks I have only checked IG to respond to messages. No scrolling, no spending hours on "stories" or "shorts". I cannot believe how much happier I've been. Physical, mental, & emotional health have all improved. I'm not even a person who spends(spent) a lot of time on social media, but just going to the bare bones level I've had has kept me much happier. I avoid reading the news immediately in the morning over coffee. DON'T do that! So many times I found myself upset about (any news topic outside of my control) and that set a tone for my day. I try to listed to NPR/local public radio, and that's it. I also replaced my app's normal spot on my phone with my reading apps.

Also, I re-read the MMM about circle of concern and circle of control.

Noodle

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #19 on: March 30, 2022, 08:04:10 PM »
1. Local news--I have a digital subscription to the local newspaper. Supports local journalism, which I approve of, and in the last few years there have been several occasions outside COVID when a high-quality local news source was useful. They send a daily e-newsletter and I browse through there to see if there are any interesting articles.
2. National news--digital subscription to the Washington Post. I prefer it to the Times. They also send a daily newsletter, and I usually read a few of the articles.
3. Local political news--we have a non-profit news site for our state that does excellent journalism. Best place to keep up with our (extremely aggravating) politics; they only publish 3-5 articles per day but well-done.

I also take in a fair amount of content through blogs (yes! they still exist!), newsletters, podcasts, and social media (a few Facebook groups for special interests and organizations I am part of) but very little of that has to do with current events...more the kind of thing that used to be found in lifestyle, general interest and pop culture sections and publications. I unfollowed all my friends who were prone to posting political content on either side (you can still check on them, you just don't get them in your feed) and that did wonders for turning my Facebook feed into cute animal videos and craft tutorials. (I don't do crafts but I like watching other people do them!)

FLBiker

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #20 on: March 31, 2022, 12:18:37 PM »
Lots of good ideas in this thread!

For me:
1) No social media.  I have a Linked In account that I never check, but that's it.  No Twitter, no Facebook, no Instagram, etc.
2) No TV news (no cable makes that easy).
3) Minimal internet / app news.  I used to read CBC, BBC, Al Jazeera, the Guardian at different times, but I currently have none of them on my phone.  I've used various extensions to block stuff on my PC (while at work) but I don't love the privacy issues.  I've found a more effective technique is the Pomodoro technique.  I sometimes use 5 minute breaks to check the news, but first I use them to do pushups. :)

To be clear -- I'm not arguing that there is nothing good on social media, or that there is no useful information in the news.  My premise is that, for me, the bad outweighs the good.

GreenSheep

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #21 on: April 05, 2022, 06:07:54 PM »
I figure if something is important, someone will mention it to me, or I'll overhear someone talking about it. I have a Facebook account only so that I can visit the neighborhood FB page... I guess you could call that "extremely local news." It's mostly positive stuff like a blown-away item that was found in someone's yard, a thank you for helping get someone's escaped pet home, an invitation to a social thing, etc.

I like the idea of quitting all forms of news and then seeing what you miss and using that as a guide for putting some/any of it back into your life. Alternatively, you could try to actively think about whether anything you read/saw/heard from the media today changed anything in your life at all. In other words, did knowing X information make you do anything differently? Did it change your opinion on anything? And would you have gotten that information anyway by chatting with a neighbor, friend, or grocery store cashier? You can always go look up an issue if someone mentions it and you want to know more. Then the information is more in your control, rather than just being blasted at you like water from a fire hose.

Dee_the_third

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #22 on: April 26, 2022, 05:47:12 PM »
Subscribe to the NYT daily digest and stop reading other news. It sends you the top headlines and a blurb, and usually an item or two of fun or uplifting news too.

clarkfan1979

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #23 on: April 26, 2022, 06:41:39 PM »
Hi everyone,

For a while I was able to completely ignore the news after being overwhelmed by it in the early part of the pandemic.  I used to drive to work and I'd turn on NPR every day.  It was ~important~ because things were constantly evolving, but eventually that stopped and I kept listening anyway.  I've tried unplugging since, but the 2020 election drew me back in, then Delta/Omicron, and now everything with the Russia and Ukraine conflict.  I don't even listen to NPR anymore, it's mostly turned into social media news sources which feels worse for me and less productive than ever.  How do you "stay informed" without totally disconnecting? Part of me wants to go old school and just subscribe to a weekly newspaper and read that once a week and totally  ignore everything else.

I know news and especially opiniony-rage-inducing-outrage-social-media-style "news" is terrible for my mental health.  I also watched the social dilemma recently and it scared me a lot.  I really just want to unplug but I don't want to be totally in the dark.

Thanks!! :)

I am going to take a literal interpretation of low information diet and I think it should be changed to "low news diet" I teach college and consume a large amount of education information through my textbooks, peer-reviewed journals, students and other instructors who are experts in different fields. I have a high information diet, but very little of it is news.

When someone is very opinionated and wants to have a political discussion, the easiest way to avoid it is to say, "I'm sorry, but I haven't really been watching the news lately. I've been busy with work. I really don't know what you are talking about." For me, it's a big win when I can avoid those conversations. 
 

Syonyk

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #24 on: April 27, 2022, 12:14:48 PM »
I figure if something is important, someone will mention it to me, or I'll overhear someone talking about it.

My experience has been that this is very true - and it misses the important fact that other people like telling you something you've not heard.  And it comes with the filter that it's important enough for them to mention it.  So it's already pre-filtered through at least one person.

Quote
I like the idea of quitting all forms of news and then seeing what you miss and using that as a guide for putting some/any of it back into your life.

Lent is my annual time for this.  It works well.  You realize just how much stuff filters in despite your best efforts.

My description of it is that the best any person can ever do is eventual consistency with some representative cross section of the news.  And that I'm fine with a longer window for eventual and a lower cross section than most, in exchange for the sanity.

clarkfan1979

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Re: What does your low-information diet look like?
« Reply #25 on: April 28, 2022, 09:13:13 AM »
Hi everyone,

For a while I was able to completely ignore the news after being overwhelmed by it in the early part of the pandemic.  I used to drive to work and I'd turn on NPR every day.  It was ~important~ because things were constantly evolving, but eventually that stopped and I kept listening anyway.  I've tried unplugging since, but the 2020 election drew me back in, then Delta/Omicron, and now everything with the Russia and Ukraine conflict.  I don't even listen to NPR anymore, it's mostly turned into social media news sources which feels worse for me and less productive than ever.  How do you "stay informed" without totally disconnecting? Part of me wants to go old school and just subscribe to a weekly newspaper and read that once a week and totally  ignore everything else.

I know news and especially opiniony-rage-inducing-outrage-social-media-style "news" is terrible for my mental health.  I also watched the social dilemma recently and it scared me a lot.  I really just want to unplug but I don't want to be totally in the dark.

Thanks!! :)

For my dissertation, I had read around 300 peer reviewed journal articles on the topic of social norms. I only read the methods and results sections of the articles. I didn't want to be influenced by the opinions of the authors, so I purposely didn't read the introduction or discussion sections of the articles. When it came time to form my own conclusions, it was easier because I only had to filter through data and not the opinions of others.