One of the best things I have done for myself over the last six months is gone on an information diet. Just like a food diet, that means I have deliberately put limits on my consumption of information, and only allow myself to consume it at determined times.
Here is what that looks like:
I abandoned my Facebook account, and started a new one, with relatively few close friends on it. I belong to no affinity groups.
I quit consuming my news via Facebook or Twitter or other social media.
I own a Kindle Fire (which is an amazing deal. For less than $50, you get a decent, fully functional Android tablet). The Washington Post has a super deal for Kindle Fire owners, where you get a six month subscription for $1, and it’s 3.99 a month after that.
I also subscribe to a couple of “news aggregation” emails, including the New York Times and Need 2 Know. They both send emails to my inbox every morning with top national headlines. (Need to Know is also good about sharing pop culture things, so I know what latest shenanigans Taylor Swift is up to.)
When I do see an article someone shared on Social Media, I save it for later. I use Pocket, which is amazing, but you could use Instapaper or just use Facebook’s saving function. The tool doesn’t matter – you just want to separate stimulus from response.
So, every morning, I get up, drink my coffee and scan headlines from many different sources, with professional editorial voices at work. I read the articles that interest me, and, wonderfully, I have no chance to argue with people I know.
Before, I would see an article someone shared and then read it right there. I might, in a 5 minute period, swing from something the president did to this weird thing a cat did to here is why you should be scared about bees.
Then you are whiplashed all over the place, and you are out of control of what you see and what you feel, and then you get angry and your blood pressure goes up and… but maybe you’ve been there?
You have to control what you allow in. If you don’t, it is easy to get overwhelmed with the weight of everything coming at you. The pace of information is maddening, and unsustainable. There is far more media created these days than we are capable of ever consuming.
So you need to go on a diet.
A helpful book for me in this was The Information Diet, by Clay A. Johnson