Daily Archives: January 2, 2021

The Year without News

clusterfuckI have not checked the news since 18th December 2020.
I had been quite a news junkie throughout 2020 (well you kinda HAD to be, given what a clusterFUCK it’s been), so the moment I stopped work, the moment I stopped following news.

It’s been good and I’ve decided to stay away from it for as long as possible, maybe for the whole year of 2021. When trying to make this into some sort of story or temporary raison d’être for this blog, it occurred to me that I had tried it before (as a New Year’s resolution, to stay away from the news), and failed after a couple of months. More importantly, I remembered an essay by Rolf Dobelli, a Swiss author and businessman that I came across a while ago. It’s called

Vergessen Sie die News! Für eine gesunde Nachrichtendiät.

or in English:

Forget the news! For a healthy (strict) news diet.

I don’t know if / where this essay exists in English, but really you should be trying to read the original (if you can). I’m going to give you one paragraph right here for a flavour and a link to download the full German version at the end of the post.

1.News führen zu einer falschen Risikokarte im Kopf

Unser zentrales Nervensystem reagiert unverhältnismässig stark auf sichtbare, skandalöse, aufsehenerregende,schockierende, personenbezogene, laute, plakative, schnell wechselnde, farbige Reize – und unverhältnismässig schwach auf abstrakte, mehrdeutige, komplexe, auf einander aufbauende und deutungsbedürftige Informationen. News-Produzenten nutzen diese Wahrnehmungsverzerrung systematisch aus.

English:

1. News lead to a faulty risk map in your head

Our central nervous system responds disproportionately strong to visible, scandalous, spectacular, shocking, people-focused, loud, eye-catching, fast-paced, colourful stimuli  – and disproportionately weak to abstract, ambiguous, complex, progressive information in need of interpretation. News producers systematically exploit this distorted perception.

Reading it is a bit like reading Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking (if you’re a smoker) for the first time. It sinks in and imprints itself (if you get to the end, that is).

Download the PDF (German version) here:  Dobelli_News

PS: I think I’ve finally figured out how to get WordPress Classic Editor back. The modern default block editor WP.com force you to use is honestly very disabling for an old-skool tinkerer like me – I couldn’t get anything done quickly in it.