I think I need to stop reading so much news, especially on the internet. Every time I take a break and decide to see what is going on in the world, I am left feeling more tense and stressed after the break, than I did before.
At least a newspaper is finite, and it usually gives one consistent point of view. In fact, I derive some measure of comfort and peace from reading a newspaper in a café. Ahhh, there… I instantly feel at peace just thinking about it. I don’t know if it is the hot cup of coffee on the table, or the pages of the newspaper in my hands. But I am content in the moment.
The problem with reading the news on the internet is that once I start reading an article, there is an infinitely long chain of links that I am recommended to read. Many times I can go from one article to a completely unrelated one by following the “Most Read” headlines. Or I can explore the topic deeper by reading all the related articles, which offer all possible dimensions and opinions on the topic. In either case, I have entered an infinite loop that is hard to break.
…Oh, God, I got distracted again by the news. After spending the last 90 minutes collecting useless pieces of information all over the internet, I am finally finishing this blog entry.
It is equally useless to tell me to exercise my willpower. The internet makes me forget I even have a will of my own. And that is the whole point. How in the world will all these websites make money, if they do not distract poor unsuspecting viewers like us from our work, so we can spend more time on their pages?
And here I am at the end of my latest excursion into the online realm, tired, stressed, confused and guilty. Tired because I spent 90 minutes straining my eyes and trying to absorb all the information from the articles I read. Stressed because the news once again reminded me of how many problems the world has, and how little I can do about them. Confused and chaotic in my mind since my brain ran through a million different topics in the last 90 minutes, read a dozen different opinions on all of those topics so that I have no idea what my own opinion is on any of those topics anymore, leaving my mind spinning beyond control. And guilty because now I have lost 90 minutes of working time and it will take me another hour just to de-stress, slow down my brain and get my concentration back.
Coincidentally, take a look at this NY Times article that addresses the same problem with email.