When you tell people that you don’t have your eyes glued to the breaking news of the day, that you read minimal news coverage, they suddenly turn judgmental.
About a decade ago I stopped watching news. Since then I’ve cut back on how much news I read.
This includes newspapers, magazines, and podcasts. Both breaking news and softer news stories.
I have been a voracious news consumer for most of my life, so this is a big deal.
When I tell people that I don’t consume much news, I hear and see their judgments.
They judge me as being ill-informed, not a good citizen, out of touch, and I’m sure other things that they don’t mention.
The first question people ask me is, “how do you know what’s going on in the world?”
Some people express a desire to give up news but deem it unrealistic because they need to know what’s happening.
So whether you’re curious how I can be a good citizen or wondering how you can still keep tabs on what’s happening without watching so much news, here’s my answer to that question.
How I Know What’s Happening Without Watching the News
The short answer is that I know because I’m not living under a rock. But let’s break it down a little more.
My self-imposed news ban has been mostly focused on watching news. I do read the news. Although I’m always working to cut back. Especially on bigger stories, I try to read just enough to know what’s going on, and no more.
I limit the time I allow myself to read news, and when I read it. With few exceptions, I generally don’t look at news until late in the day, once my peak productivity hours are behind me. The biggest exception to this is if there’s a major incident that impacts my immediate plans.
(2) Televisions Are Everywhere
Perhaps you’ve noticed that we live in a world of screens. They are everywhere. In the gym. In waiting rooms. In building lobbies. In Times Square. I’m not blind. I can’t help but see the news when it’s on, and then I see what’s happening. News filters in from the environment.
(3) People Talk
If it’s a big enough event or story, invariably people will be talking about it and I’ll overhear their conversation. Or someone will ask me a direct question:
Did you hear about [that thing that happened]?
What do you think about [insert thing that happened]?
Or, in rare cases:
Are you ok?
To which I’ll respond, yes, why do you ask?
And they’ll tell me about an attack that happened nearby.
And then I know what happened.
If it’s a big story, if it’s important and relevant, I’ll know about it.
Sometimes I Don’t Know
Sometimes I don’t know about something. I’ve learned that that’s ok too.