I am steadfast believer in creating SMART goals. I usually write mine down at the beginning of the year. However I must confess that although I write the goals down, and I’m aware of them day to day, I really don’t do the best of holding myself accountable. It’s still a good exercise. This public blog post is a means of keeping myself more accountable than I have in the past.
One goal I had this year was to look at my phone less. That hasn’t gone particularly well. I sadly spend about two hours a day on average staring at this six inch screen in my hands. And if you’re thinking this post is about going cold turkey from my phone, it’s not. I’m going to cut out a major piece of my information diet which I believe in turn is creating a lot of anxiety.
Starting tomorrow, Monday, September 14th, I am giving up consuming the news. Explicitly, this means no sites like the Washington Post, New York Times, Chicago Tribune, etc., I can still check my usual non-breaking news sites. That last statement may seem like a cop-out, that I’m still checking say Pitchfork, which has news, but I’m excusing myself from the realm of fire engine red breaking news alerts, which most of the times really aren’t news.
I plan this to last at least until the election, but if I can make it further, I will do that.
Additionally, I’m going to abstain from looking at my phone when I’m bored. What I will do instead is carry a physical piece of media with me at all times. I have piles of back issues of The New Yorker that I have yet to read, and I’m going to utilize this moment to whittle down that as well as my reading list of books. Reading a book in front of someone seems less rude than checking your phone. Additionally, I’ll write more and play guitar more, but obviously a guitar is harder to carry around than say a book.
The exceptions to the phone rule, which I feel are reasonable, are I can use my phone as a remote to stream videos, and I can use it to look up fun things like what other shows an actor was in.
I have made peace that the news may still creep into my life. For example, my wife may tell me about something or I may see an ad on TV about the upcoming news; that’s ok.
I didn’t plan on writing this publicly, but I choose to do so because this will be hard. I believe being informed of current events is very important, and that journalism is essential to our democracy, but the 24 hour news cycle has really gotten to me. This should be an interesting experiment and I hope that abstaining from the news will help clear my head and reduce some of the stresses I’ve been feeling lately. 2020 has been a wild and weird year, but I need to recharge mentally in a meaningful way and this is what I feel is going to be best for myself.