A couple of years ago, I made a conscience decision to cut my media consumption. I stopped watching morning television to start my day. I quit watching evening television shows. I even changed my engagement with sports. Instead of letting it run (and sometimes ruin) my life, I started treating it for what it is – entertainment. Even though I never had a big social media presence, I totally disconnected from it. I significantly cut the number of blogs I follow. You get the picture, I turned down the media noise in my life.
You would think that I would have missed out on important events, that I would have lost touch with family and friends, that I would have been left behind, disconnected from the world, out of touch with reality.
Turns out, none of that came to pass. In fact, I’ve found that my mental state of mind and attitude towards life has never been better.
Coincidence, I don’t think so. And here’s why.
Contrary to what the mainstream media would like us to believe, life has never been better. We live in an amazing time. It’s pretty incredible when I think about the advances in my lifetime, which covers the last 50 years. Our knowledge and ability to identify and treat life threatening illnesses has improved dramatically. Refrigeration and shipment of food has given year round access to any fruit and vegetable we would want on a daily basis. Automobile safety has improved dramatically. Infant mortality and childhood disease rates have dropped. I carry around a device, which fits in my pocket mind you, that allows me to get directions, look up information, and connect with anyone I want whenever I want. I could go on and on.
The media doesn’t want us to be thankful and celebrate it. Gratitude doesn’t fuel television ratings. Sowing seeds of discontent, polarizing topics, extremist views, conflict, fear, playing to the basest of human emotions, these are what generate ratings for television. It’s also the stuff that leads to our unhappiness.
Seth Godin has a great post from October 2017 titled “The Engine of Our Discontent” where he summed it up well:
- Television shows alienate us because they bring an idealized, expensive world into the homes of people who can’t afford it
- Ads remind us why our lives are incomplete and unhappy, unless, of course, we buy what they’re selling
- Cable news is optimized to shock, divide and frighten
- The internet, particularly social media, amplifies these trends
I’m also 100% in agreement with his conjecture that there is an inverse relationship between time spent on television and social media and our mental state of mind. As time spent on media increases, our mental state of mind is more confused, more agitated, less clear. As time spent goes down, our mental state is clearer, more aware, peaceful, and expansive. There is more room for meaningful experiences, meaningful relationships, creative endeavors.
So what’s the answer? Reduce our media consumption. Turn off the media noise.
If you haven’t tried cutting your media consumption, you should. Now is a great time to start as we approach the end of the year. Take a break from your usual television viewing and social media usage. Instead, read a good book (plenty of ideas here if you need help). Learn a new skill. Pick up a new hobby. Get together and connect with friends, both old and new. Be grateful for every day and for all the things you have, big and small. See what happens and observe how you feel. I’ll bet you’ll feel a lot better – both mentally and physically.
With the insanity that awaits us heading into the 2020 presidential election cycle, now is the time to make a change. Make it a priority to prepare for and insulate yourself from the impending noise and cacophony of the media. Your future self will thank you.