Why I stopped reading the news

by Todd Foley

Let’s get one thing clear: I am an information junkie.

  • I love social media and enjoy seeing what’s being posted and who is talking about what (sometimes chiming in to the conversation as well).
  • I focused my undergrad degree on journalism and political science, which required me to stay on top of current news and familiarize myself with past news.
  • I work in the field of corporate communications, which sees me listening in on what’s going on the company and how the public are talking about their needs, then creating an intersection between their needs and our products and services. To help accommodate these different areas, I would begin each day by going to a selection of nearly a dozen different news sites to see what was going on in the world at the moment, then monitoring developments throughout the day.

Then I started to get tired. Very, very tired.

It goes without saying that bad news (war, shootings, crime, death and scandals) get top billing on any major news cycle. Yes, these things are newsworthy and in no way am I saying that these stories should not be aired or receive national attention; it’s part of our social responsibility to stay aware of the world we live in. But with my information-junkie tendencies, I get exhausted from the constant cycle of bad news.

I’d find myself longing for something happy, similar to the sentiment in the first 30 seconds of this clip, from one of my favorite shows (no guilt in admitting this):

So I turned my attention from news to stories (aka novels). Yes, novels are fictionalized tales, but they go much deeper than a hard news story can go. They can take on the subject matter of a news story and add a deeper human element. Example: I found this to be true with Lionel Shriver’s We Need To Talk About Kevin in relation to mass shootings, which is such a tragically recurring news item (tragic because of the countless deaths, but even more tragic with how common these recurrences have become in 2014 alone). I don’t need to go further in this post, as the link will explain more about how that book affected me. In all honesty, with every subsequent shooting or violent outrage that has occurred since I read that novel, my mind and heart automatically shift back to the story. The complexity of the shooter. The turmoil experienced by his immediate family. The pain experienced by the victims’ families. Yes, these are fictional characters, but their experience is true.

What about you? Do you find the news exhausting, or do you find stories/novels to be adequate (or inadequate) in conveying these truths?