Monday, March 12, 2018

how to curb a 24-hour news addiction (kinda)

i am in the process of half-heartedly trying to curb one of my most life-consuming bad habits: i am massively addicted to the 24-hour news cycle.

i read online A LOT. like, always. much too much. and most especially too much about the bad things happening in the world (i'm looking at you, united states.) it's like this itch i can't ever scratch and any spare moment i have is spent scouring the depths of my own personal echo chamber to read any and all trending news hurling toward me.

it's exhausting, but more importantly, it's totally incapacitating. obviously it makes me worried and stressed and irrationally (or maybe totally rationally) scared. it takes me out of being fully present and engaged with whatever is happening around me, and fills my brain with so much useless crap. it's also all so much, that i feel paralyzed to ever take action- each bad thing worthy of my energy is trumped by the next even more bad thing.

that said, i don't think that quitting ALL media is the answer. i have tried in the past, and was ultimately left feeling uninformed and apathetic. but in an effort to stop consuming 100% bad news 100% of the time, i have been shifting my usual outlets over to podcasts, books, and non-trump related online reading. bite size pieces, instead of constant scarfing.


i recently read an article titled 'how to read less news but be more informed, according to a futurist' - one of the tips they suggest is to consciously aiming for a wide context of information by choosing quality over quantity. in other words, triangulate between breadth and depth. the more information is available, the less we tend to digest, so it makes sense to consume less and better data. an easy way to do this is by following reliable, thoughtful, forward-looking publications and journalists online and let them do the heavy lifting, finding the most interesting info for us.

and for me, canadaland does exactly that. 

canadaland is a crowdfunded podcast with a focus on media criticism and CANADIAN media reporting. the stories they break are super interesting and often ones i had, until now, only heard about peripherally. getting to dig deeper into news that literally takes place in my own backyard has been incredibly satisfying.

something canadaland's host, jesse brown, said that really resonated with me is that by comparison, canada is so small - we simply don't have the resources, person-power, or ad dollars to create as much news/noise as the united states. and for that reason, many of us don't know what's actually going on around here. having far fewer avenues to acquire the information we need, we instead latch on to the giant shiny shitshow that is shoved down our throats by our neighbours to the south. 

consciously choosing to consume canadian content, canadian media, and canadian politics has been a welcome shift - not only from a feelgood standpoint of knowing i am supporting fellow canadians doing meaningful work for their fellow canadians, but also in the conservation of the wasted outpouring of the energy i used to reserve for criticizing things happening beyond my boarders - an act that literally got me nowhere in addition to taking my attention away from important conversations happening in and about canada. there is something wholly empowering about pouring energy and thought into issues that you have the ability to get involved with, advocate for, and even change- that flow of energy (instead of a stifled build of anger) feels so good!  

EPISODES TO LISTEN TO RIGHT NOW (a few of my faves)...

it was illegal to print their names: alberta's lost children

since the late 1990s nearly 800 children in alberta government care have died. veteran edmonton journal columnist Paula Simons has been shining a light on this crisis since the start. (warning: this episode speaks candidly about child physical and sexual abuse and death. it's SO important, but proceed with caution if this type of thing may be triggering or effect you more deeply.)

robert jago: decolonizing canada in his spare time
after ending the campaigns of several tory candidates with his muckraking during the 2015 federal election, macleans dubbed robert jago, “the most dangerous blogger in canada”. jago has quickly risen as an incisive, evocative voice in canadian media. he’s a regular contributor to the walrus and CANADALAND — but he says he doesn’t plan on giving up his day job anytime soon. so. who is this guy? one of the most interesting and passionate interviews i have ever listened to.

my awkward date with sarah polley
growing up, road to avonlea was one of my favourite shows, so its no surprise that i adore everything sarah polley touches. hearing her eloquently and factually discuss hard issues like domestic abuse, sexual harassment and assault, and the culture that fuels it, although incredibly depressing is also incredibly important. 

daniel dale the toronto star's daniel dale has become one of the most-watched journalists in washington in part by simply enumerating donald trump's lies. this interveiw offers a perfect mix of laughter and dumfoundedness- it also served as the perfect crutch for me as i began my self-weening off US media.