It’s March in two days and I have already forgotten whatever New Year’s resolutions I made. I’m looking into freshening up and updating some of the more stale practises of mine a bit, on several fronts in fact, but that shall be a separate TED-talk. Now, my plans for March media detox.
I am a media junkie. Have always been and my career choices have not helped the matter. I’ll read anything, and also get mildly irritated if I find out mid-conversation that the other person does not follow news.
Irritated more broadly is the operating word here, and the reason why I decided to undergo a one-month trial period sans voluntarily bringing rash-inducing crap into my daily life. Since I can remember (probably since I possessed a mobile phone and had a wifi) I have started my day in the rabbit hole of the internet, first quickly reading the headlines of the more serious newspapers in bed, then moving on to do speedy 10-minute spin and scroll on twitter to properly work up my blood pressure, and over breakfast continue gawking through the front pages of the trashiest yellow press known to humankind until my head would actually explode. Not exactly your “jot down things you are grateful for while sipping hot lemon water” –routine.
I figured all this might actually not be necessary. I could be an informed citizen without daily working up a rage over absolutely wanton bullshit.
First step was unsubscribing a huge amount of newsletters and god knows what else from arriving in my inbox. That stuff was not necessarily irritating, but it was taking up unnecessary space and making my inbox a mess. It also constantly diverted my gaze with all kinds of unsolicited offerings and thus shortened my already extremely short attention span. I warmly recommend doing this.
Second step was disabling most social media apps from my phone. This has resulted in awkward situations on places like public transport. I am the one looking at people and never missing my stop because I have nothing to look on my phone. Which is a lie, because I kept instagram, the one social media app I actually really like.
I still spy on social media every now and then, but I have to do it on my laptop. It makes surfing the net an ever so slightly more formal occasion and hopefully will cut down the time I waste getting worked up about… well, let’s not go there.
Third, I revised all my magazine- and newsletter subscriptions to suit current needs. One thing before I continue: there is free press, which is a concept the free world shall forever cherish. But no press should be free to read. Since I’m sharing things that irritate me, the top irritant are people who complain when something is behind a paywall. Pay for your news, people. It’s not like journalists should work for free.
I have monthly subscriptions to the New York Magazine (their website with the thematic profiles is worth absolutely every cent), the (UK) Times, the weekend edition of the New York Times and the biggest Finnish daily. The online Guardian is free, but I pay a small donation monthly to keep my chakras clean. The one new magazine I decided to subscribe is The Business of Fashion.
I quit my Vanity Fair subscription because the paper magazine was regularly posted ridiculously late. I also realised I never got round actually reading the an sich very instagrammable Paris Review of Literature. During my inbox feng shui -attack I also discovered random subscriptions to thematic publication that I had apparently taken up when there had been an absolute must-read, and then forgotten to unsubscribe.
Fourth, and this part is still ongoing, I am also updating my podcast list. My top two favourites for current affairs are Recode Decode with Kara Swisher and Pod Save America, hosted by Obama’s former aides. Hysteria with Alyssa Mastromonaco is also good and delightfully regular.
I am on the lookout for current affairs podcasts so be not shy to suggest your favourites on the comments below. (They do not have to be American, btw, I can see my bias here)
Fifth, and last, I am banning myself from all yellow press (hello DailyMail) for the month of March to see what happens. This includes yellow press also in Finnish and in Swedish. If the cold turkey gets so intolerable that I actually go through the trouble of reading the latest about the European royal families in French, Dutch or Spanish, that shall be allowed in the name of lifelong learning and be a signal of my descend to an all-time lowest depth of misery.
And not only that, but twitter must go, too.
This will be very hardcore for me
Will my blood pressure be lower after the experiment? Will I feel that I have been left out of something majorly important come April? Will I have more time on my hands? Will I be more focused? Will I start perusing some new media of higher quality instead? Will I be happier? Less anxious? What will happen if I’m not pissed at the world and everybody in it every morning before I leave my apartment?
I will report back in April.