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This is What Happened When I Stopped Reading News Completely

This is What Happened When I Stopped Reading News Completely

I have stopped reading and watching the news for over 2 years now. I have kept an arms distance from newspapers, developed an allergy for news websites, and made a habit of changing the TV channel if I land on a news program accidentally.

Stop reading news

I can guess what question you have in mind. “Did you not miss out on useful information?”, you ask. The answer – not a tad bit.

People have a misconception that staying away from news would lead to a lack of knowledge on current affairs which in turn impacts our daily life. The truth, however, is the opposite. When I stopped following the news, my mind felt more calm and serene, allowing me to work on things I love.

What happens when you watch the news

Instead of putting all my experience of staying away from news in words, I created a visual to help you understand better.

What happens when you stop reading news

Now that I have boycotted news in all shapes and forms, my mind seems like a vacant house that I just moved into. I have all the privilege to fill the space the way I choose to. I am not sure if I can come up with decor and arrangements that impress an interior designer, but I can set up the house exactly the way I want to.

When I stayed away from the news, my brain did not encounter any needless distractions or stress. Whatever ran through my mind either mattered to me or helped me work on tasks that made a difference to my life. All my time and energy were channeled in the right direction helping me extract meaningful results.

What happens when you read news

Things take a complete U-turn when you start following the news. Your mind becomes a dump yard of information. You know what the worst part is? You can’t even change any of those events which are eating up your brain space.

You read news about crimes in another continent miles away from you. You hear about a hurricane that has hit another coast. Now, unless you are a member of the UN or Superman from Krypton, you can do nothing about such events. Knowing about them only fills your thoughts with worry and grief. Zero benefits come out of such knowledge.

Likewise, if you consume news from TV channels, websites, social media, and newspapers, you get entangled in the commotion of politicians, celebrities, wars, unrelated business markets, and whatnot.

Keeping your ears open and processing the information you receive requires energy and time. But, you only have a limited amount of time and energy in a day. As a result, you are left with little time to work on things that make a difference to your family, goals, relationships, and career.

As you absorb more news, they eat up time from activities which help you in the long run.

Today, when I catch up with friends, I hear about the latest topic which is doing the rounds on the news. People are often surprised that I had no freaking clue about it. Some even ask me with sarcasm if I’m living under a rock. But, when I ask them what was the use of knowing such news, no one has a good answer. They’re taken aback and stutter saying, “It is good to know about current affairs.” I ask why again, and we reach an impasse.

Why watching the news causes more damage than good?

On the surface, the news seems harmless but that’s far from the truth. Are you wondering, how can hearing about a few calamities, incidents and policies harm you? I present 10 reasons why news is bad for you.

1. News is negative

Negativity in news

Try picking up a newspaper or tuning into a news channel. More often than not, you will encounter a negative incident. A war between countries killed thousands, a hurricane closed down a city, a politician mocked his opponent, an actress dumped her boyfriend and so on.

I am not claiming that all news is negative, but when I tried counting, I found every positive announcement bundled with 4 or more negative stories.

Why doesn’t good news get published more often, you think? Because negative news sells and gathers more readers/viewers. Negativity appears more captivating than a plan vanilla happy story. For example, try these for comparison:

  • Actor Sean donates 10 million USD to charity
  • Actor Sean arrested for physical assault on his wife

Needless to say, people prefer to know more about a controversial mess than a joyful story. Is it worth reading the news when all you hear is negativity?

2. Your mind invokes fear and anxiety

Fear of events

When you hear terrible incidents happening in the world around you, you start worrying if you will end up as the victim someday. The news of a new disease outbreak sends a shiver down your spine as you visualize yourself lying in a bed plugged into a ventilator. When terrorists bomb a building, you worry about being blown to smithereens due to an explosion in your city.

The psychological effects of the news are not so apparent but they are real.

The world is a much better place than the news portrays. When you look at only the horrendous events, your mind generalizes the whole earth as the same. But you are taking a small percentage of all occurrences around the world which are sad and assuming such tragedies happen in each city every day.

Related article: 7 tips to stop overthinking

3. You make an unrealistic estimation of risks

The number of people who fear stepping into an airplane is humongous. The thought of the plane crashing scares even the frequent flyers.

After a shark attacked Bethany Hamilton, people stayed away from the waters for a couple of years. Some fear a shark attack even today.

While the risks are real, such events are far rarer than they appear.

Due to the intensity with which the news sells the story, you consider an uncommon event as common.

As per statistics, you are more likely to die in a car accident on the way to the airport than in a flight crash. You have higher chances of winning a Nobel prize than being bitten by a shark.

The fear induced by the scary events forces your mind to worry about such tragedies happening to yourself which in reality never occur. Such is the impact of news channels on society.

4. You do not gain anything

No use

From all the news you have watched in the last few years, can you recall one piece which helped you make a better decision? I don’t think so. Even if you do find an instance, do you believe the time spent was a good trade-off for the outcome?

In cases like investment decisions in the stock market or real estate, knowing facts helps. But outside those areas, what good comes out of knowing the tussle between politicians, the sex life of the celebrities, or the intensity of an earthquake in Indonesia?

You never receive a good return on investment for the time you spend in consuming, storing and processing the news.

5. You become a part of gossip/arguments

Gossip and argument

When you read a piece of news, you will notice the details leaning towards one side. It can appear so due to a biased source or paid propaganda. Even if the content is neutral, your own perception can skew your judgment and make you favor one side.

The most common examples are topics related to politics, religion, and ideologies. Just like a political party has fans and haters, ideologies such as feminism and capitalism has its share of devotees and critics.

Irrespective of the side you take, you get pulled into gossip. A simple glance into your Facebook newsfeed will show you the banter from the keyboard warriors which impact your peace of mind for no reason. Even though you don’t know the person who has written the comment, your emotions go for a spin because it challenged your belief.

6. Confirmation bias

Taking sides confirmation bias

Your mind tends to stick to the beliefs it already has. How often do you find fans of a sports team or a political party switch their support to a rival? Such changes are rare because people prefer to stick to their beliefs.

What the human being is best at doing is interpreting all new information so that their prior conclusions remain intact

Warren Buffet

The social media news feed today further strengthens your belief by showing you what you believe in. If you are a fan of Messi, Facebook will show you more posts about Messi than about Ronaldo.

In a similar case, during the 2016 US Presidential Elections, the results shocked the fans of Hillary Clinton. However, the supporters of Trump saw it coming.

The reason was, the followers of both Trump and Hillary saw articles on social media which said their leader would win. The content reinforced their own beliefs. Both sides expected their leader to win by looking at one side of the story alone.

You can read more about confirmation bias here.

7. Your body releases more cortisol which impacts your health

Since you hear about bad news more often, your mood undergoes a change from neutral/happy to stressed/anxious. The psychological effects of bad news cause your body to react with a certain response.

When you undergo any stress your body has a natural protocol of releasing more cortisol in your system. That is mother nature’s way of preparing you for a flight or fight response. Your brain plans to break you out of it as soon as possible because it is only a response to stimuli.

However, if you remain stressed, cortisol keeps collecting in your system keeping you in the flight or fight mode often. If you go around hunting for negative news, you impact your health in the long run.

8. You worry about things you cannot influence

As a person, you have things you can control and change such as improving your career, building better relationships, exercising often, improving as a person and so on. All such things fall under your locus of control.

You can bring a change in any behavior, activity or outcome which falls under this area. Sometimes things may not go as expected but the outcome was due to the actions you took.

If I have to put it as a visual, here is how your locus of control would look like.

Locus of control

Beyond the orange circle lie a million other things which you have no control over. All the news you consume daily will 9 out of 10 times fall outside your locus of control. You are only wasting your time by learning about problems you can neither change nor influence.

9. News interferes with productive work

Behind every article which reaches you, lies a business working on selling and making profits. Not every news media takes sides, but the editorial teams write to draw your attention and keep you hooked. That’s their job and that’s what they’re paid for.

If you are reading a piece of interesting news, you cannot multitask. Multitasking is unproductive anyway but that is a different topic to discuss.

Besides, one article leads you to another, followed by comments and videos consuming your time minute by minute. Even after you finish with the news and get back to business, what you read lingers on. Such persistent thoughts are due to attention residue and they kill your focus.

10. The important news reaches you anyway

If something of dire consequences makes the headlines, the news will reach you one way or the other. If a tsunami is about to hit your coast or the scientists have predicted an earthquake in your area, you will hear about it.

No damage has ever occurred to a person who failed to watch a news channel or read the newspaper on time.

What is crucial will find its way to you. What about the rest? Well, you don’t need it anyway.


Does this mean the news is bad for you? Yes.

Does this mean you should stop reading news during breaks? Yes

Does this mean you should stop all forms of news? Again yes.

Ideally, if you cut yourself from all news sources, you will experience far more peace of mind. I have stated the disadvantages of the news above and you can make your own judgment. However, limiting news in all forms is no easy task.

A better option is to limit your intake of news to your areas of interest. If you love sports, follow news related to the championship. If you are a technology freak, read more about the latest gadgets. If you intend to invest in stocks, learn more about the happenings in the market.

Do not consider it important to stay informed on all the happenings around the world. You don’t need to. Whenever you find yourself pulled into some news which does not help you in any fashion, tell yourself, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

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Join the discussion

  • Well written Maxim, I was thinking whether I am alone in practising complete shutdown of news. Your Article helped once again. Thank you

    • Thanks a lot Jude. You may not be alone, but you will be lonely in the practice of boycotting news completely. No matter how much people convince you about the need to be in touch with the news, do not give in. Stick to your plan and you will reap the benefits in the long run.

  • I’m trying out a full year without the news. I found that reading covid news has been really unhealthy as there is nothing I can do about it. I have to cleanse and reboot my mind right now. I’ll just read interesting past articles on wallstreet journal and New York Times and avoiding all free news and all negative news. Thanks for the article

    • Absolutely Raymond. The uncertainty and confusion only leads to stress. You’re right on track to try a full year without the news.

    • I’ve noticed problems with anxiety as Covid continues to drag on into the fall of 2021. I stopped watching the news and felt better after a few days. Then I fell back into old habits and ended up where I was before. Time to cut out the news for good.

      • I hear you, Sean. Habits that are cultivated over many years keep urging us to come back. If you have managed to stop reading the news earlier, you should find it easier to avoid it again. Good luck!

      • I have returned from holiday in Turkey 2 days ago where I was 7 days without phone.I’ve simply switched it off to escape to everything happening in the world and just enjoy the time with my wife and daughter but at the same time I must admit it was very strange for me not to know what’s happening in the world. It is now 9 days for me without any form of news and I really feel mentally better. I believe with coming time it will become even better. Good article. I was questioning reading news for a very long time but I could never find a strength to do that.Holiday in Turkey helped me a lot and this article will help me to stick to it.

  • Very great advice Maxim I’ve suffered from severe anxiety and have been on anti-anxiety meds which caused undesired side effects. But when I stopped watching the news, my major anxiety went down quickly and I now suffer very little anxiety in my life.

    • Wonderful to hear that Daniel. News pulls you into other people’s problems and makes you believe they’re your own. You did the right thing by boycotting the news.

      • Wow! That one statement ‘news pulls you into other peoples problems’ is so powerful.
        It stopped me in my tracks, and really made me think.

        • Thank you, Dale. I think that statement is like a trick image on the internet. At first, you don’t see recognize what’s hidden, but once you do, you can’t unsee it 🙂 So next time you hear that a celebrity went into rehab, remind yourself, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.”

  • Thank you Maxim Dsouza for this great and detailed information. Was looking for a reason to stop reading news articles because it makes me overwhelmed and eats up my productive energy. I will just say it has become a habit because I memories the website. I need to start a new leaf. And thank you for highlighting where it concerns me the most. Thank you and remain blessed.

    • Absolutely, news articles compel you to think about negative events and consume mental energy which can otherwise be used productively. Appreciate the comment!

  • Great article. I have been limiting, but not totally stopping, reading the news. Maybe this is the push I need. This recent Depp trial is a great example of a lot of hot air for nothing. One great trick I’ve found is look up articles from the past if you crave a story. Knowing that it happened a while ago puts it in a different perspective for your brain.

    • Thanks for sharing the tip, Ian. It’s indeed a neat hack to avoid reading way too much of the recent news.

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