A couple years ago, I was having a phone conversation with a colleague about some data we were using for a project. The sources provide — among other things — company names and information. My colleague was using the example of trying to look up a company by its pre-buyout name, and its current name.
I don’t remember exactly how we got on the subject, but he asked me if I knew about this big Facebook acquisition, and some company they bought for 19 billion. I admitted I didn’t. He said it was all over the news, and chided my ignorance.
“Don’t you watch the news?”, he said.
Frankly, no I don’t. Or read news papers, or listen to commercial radio, or even have any kind of cable or television feed.”
“You watch football?” (at the time, he was referring to “American Football”)
I don’t, actually. No sporting events of any kind.
“No news? No football? How in the ‘bleep’ do you even know what’s going on?”
I selectively read and listen to things relevant to my business and interests. I find that life is much happier and more focused that way. If it’s something really big, like a storm, disaster, or corporate buyout, or hollywood star’s death, someone — maybe you — will tell me about it.
“Do you even know who’s president?”
Of course — I’ve seen all the number stickers.
Ok, the president comment was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but you get the idea. The rest of the dialog is almost word-for-word.
As we talked a bit more (and again a few hours after the brief conversation), the exchange got me to thinking:
In my business and social circles, it’s increasingly common to find people who have ‘unplugged’ the TV cable, or ‘gone off the news grid’. People who choose information on their own terms. People who realize that most “news” is not really “news” — regardless of which end of the political spectrum it originates.
Viewed through that particular lens, my news comment didn’t seem at all unusual. Many independent thinkers I know have tuned out of the same old channels. Essentially, we’ve built our own informal “TV” or informational networks.
But for my colleague, I could tell the whole “turn off the TV” concept was completely foreign.
It’s tempting (and maybe someday, it will happen…) to write a tome on the state of canned news, fear mongering, propaganda, and vapid trivia strewn across newspapers and airwaves. But, many others have done this — and far more brilliantly than I can. So, I’ll just leave this by way of background and get into the “WIFY” — ‘what’s in it for you’.
The main goal of this article is to provide some methods and tools to help you build your own ‘news channel’. And no, I’m not just talking some massively customized RSS reader, or bookmark collection. (Though your channel may include some of these things.)
It took me many years to choose the sources I use. And the sources change several times per year. Here is one way to go about it:
For curiosity, I often ask people where they get their information. If they tell me CNN, Fox, Wikipedia and Perez Hilton…well….their particular sources aren’t a fit for my own “info channel”.
But when people suggest interesting new sources, especially those with insightful writing, I’m always game!
Here are just a few samples (not inclusive) from my personal channel:
Your sources probably—and often should—be different. The main thing is to build your own list, relevant to you, your life, and career/business.
Living an information life “off the TV/newspaper/radio” grid can be rewarding. There is a certain sense of empowerment in building your own channel. Remember: as long as you have friends, family and associates, you’ll ALWAYS know if something really big happens. Disasters, floods, crashes, devastation, who won (or lost) a particular lesson, what sporting team won what award/trophy, olympic event will not escape you.
Let others worry about things they cannot control. You, on the other hand, are empowered to choose your own sources and live life on your own terms.
Plus…you’ll find your happiness quotient increase manifold by tuning out of negative news.
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