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Read less news, be more informed

I feel like we’ve gotten ourselves to this place where we conflate “being informed” with “watching and following the news all the time” and I am growing increasingly convinced that those two things are not the same.

It is entirely possible for a person to be informed even if they only look at the news once a day. I think it’s possible even if they only look at the news once a week. More than that, I think there might even be an inverse relationship between how informed a person is and how often they are consuming news (and from how many different sources).

The more of a firehose you have spraying in your face, the less time and attention you have to focus on what any of it actually means and how it all fits together. I would suggest that “being informed”—if it’s going to mean anything at all—is much more dependent on that latter part about understanding what the information means and how it fits together than it is upon the volume of sources or the frequency of updates.

And this conflation of “being informed” with “reading all the news” bleeds out into all the current consternation about being overwhelmed by too much information and concerns about disinformation and news degraded by SEO and AI garbage. If you’re constantly looking at an endless multichannel feed of updates, where do you find the time to consider which ones are worthwhile and reliable?

I question the utility of this sort of knowledge. Does following all the news lead to any action, or is it a spectator sport? I would wager that, more often than not, it is the latter.

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