I haven’t been checking the headlines much recently, and not at all this morning. War could’ve been declared overnight and I wouldn’t have known about it until someone mentioned it to me. And if I did know about it, would it have have made a difference in my day…? Not much, honestly.
My information triage each morning goes something like this…
– Check Reuters headlines
– Check AP headlines
– Check NPR headlines
– Correlate those three sources for common impactful stories
Stories which I think might have an impact on me directly, I read immediately.
Stories relevant to my clients, which might come in conversation during my workday, I skim.
Stories of interest which I’m sure won’t impact my day, my lifestyle, or my finances, I bookmark for a possible read later in the day.
I guess this makes me scarcely informed.
I’ve come to believe this is a good way to be — to be (at least) partially informed of the big stories and scarcely informed about smaller news stories. In truth though, unless a missile is headed to the United States, the banking system collapses due to a cyber-attack, or a river of lava is flowing down Main Avenue, I could probably make it through the day without knowing what’s going on in the world — I could probably make it through most of my life without knowing what’s going on in the world. I mean, unless a pandemic breaks out, but what are the odds of that…?
And that was my convoluted mind-chew for much of my pedaling week…
I’ve never believed that being informed is as critical to our day-to-day lives as so many make it out to be. For most, being informed is a justifiable form of entertainment.
– It’s good to be informed, yes.
– It’s good that information comes from credible sources, yes.
– It’s good to process that information in a way that applies appropriate context and perspective to the reader, yes.
In his book, Why We’re Polarized (2020), Ezra Klein tells the story of a friend, a bay area businessman, who goes to great lengths to avoid all news. He does this under the pretense that no matter what the news is, it will affect only his mood. Any news so significant it would impact his life or his business, he’d learn from the act of just living.
At least half of me believe there’s some value to that, and that’s not so small-minded. It’s been studied from many angles, and suggested that a lesser demand for news would result in a better quality of information. In The Elements Of Journalism (2014), by Kovach and Rosenstiel, the authors suggest that quality information becomes more distinct and more available when the demand for all information decreases. One of the strains, they suggest, on today’s journalism is the demand to feed the masses what they think they need — information about things which aren’t impactful in their day-to-day lives.
I’m just a chimp with a smartphone, but I think there’s something to that — so I stay moderately informed about important things and scarcely informed about the little things. But I wonder increasingly, if there’s any benefit to being informed at all. As I’ve said before, if there’s a missile headed my way, one of my neighbors is probably going to tell me anyway.
As an exercise in what I’m suggesting, next time you look at the main page of your favorite news and information site, scroll from top to bottom, reading the headlines only, and before digging in to read any story, ask yourself how knowing that information is going to make you a better business person, a better parent, a better friend, or a better neighbor. Then, again reading the headlines only, ask yourself how knowing the information contained in each story is going to influence your mood — stories about the arts notwithstanding.
Many will argue that an informed electorate is the foundation of a strong democracy. An electorate that’s over-informed about insignificant things, might just be the reason we’re in our current situation.
This is what I think about when I ride… Jhciacb
This week by the numbers…
Bikes Ridden: 6
Mph Avg: 15.0
Seat Time: 12 hours 25 minutes
Whether you ride a bike or not, thank you for taking the time to ride along with me today. If you haven’t already, please scroll up and subscribe. If you like what you read, give it a like and a share. If not, just keep scrollin’. Oh, and there’s this from Poi Dog Pondering. Enjoy…!