A Full Year Without News & Social Media (What I Learned)

Last summer, I felt like taking a break from news sites and social media.

I started messing around with the idea of taking a full-year break from all digital news and social media and ended up doing it.

Now, 15 months later, I still haven’t checked back in!

I’d love to share how it works (for me) and what it means in my day-to-day life.

Why I’m Taking A Long Break From News & Social Media

Last fall, we were in Italy working from a campground close to Venice.

We were in the middle of remodeling a house. Next up on the list was the basement – which meant having noisy builders in the house for several weeks and LOTS of dust. We had a good team working on the house and they didn’t need our help.

So we fled to Italy.

(The house is sold now as we moved into a city apartment – yay!)

I got pretty tired during this building process and felt the need for going offline for a while.

I came out of a period of spending way too much time on the news. This started during the last American presidential election. As you probably know, the drama was intense and the headlines and the fuzz just drew me in multiple times per day.

So, I just felt like it was time to pull the plug for a while – I was really motivated to make a change!

I assume you think taking a break from the news sites and social media is an exciting idea that makes sense (or could make sense) since you’re reading this, so I won’t bore you with more details about why I decided to do it.

How I Use Social Media Today

While it’s pretty easy to just abandon the bigger news sites altogether, it’s more complicated getting a good balance with social media.

First of all, a lot of my work involves social media, so I couldn’t do a cold turkey – I needed a plan.

But before we dive in – I realize social media can be useful as “social medias” where people team up with like-minded people in groups. There are certainly benefits to that. You’ll also see below how I use Facebook to connect with people who work in the same space as me.

That said, I think most of us could really benefit from cutting down 50-90% on social media!

That said, here’s what I’ve done.

Facebook

I have disabled all updates from friends (and friends of friends) in my Facebook feed. I’m still friends with them, but I’ve set them to “unfollow” so I don’t see any updates.

I only see updates from groups I am a part of.

This wasn’t too hard really, because most of my friends are not really posting relevant updates on Facebook anymore. It’s more like the occasional update when they had a beautiful meal, went traveling, etc.

Instagram

I used to be on Instagram daily, but I chose to abandon it completely.

I didn’t delete my profile, though. It’s still there as it has a lot of pictures from our previous travels, Max’s childhood, and such. But now I haven’t looked at it for over a year, and I really don’t miss it.

I honestly don’t see any useful applications for Instagram. To me, it’s really just a big pile of noise behind fake filters.

Twitter

Twitter was probably the easiest one because I never really used Twitter that much.

Again, I really only use Twitter to follow people in my industry (blogging, SEO, etc.) so it’s more of a work thing for me.

YouTube

YouTube is a bit different for me. I don’t really use it as a social network – however, it’s can definitely be a time sucker and in many ways comparable to news sites.

As I’m doing YouTube for a living (I run a blogging channel + course), I obviously spend time on YouTube almost every day, but I (almost) don’t click the endless stream of clickbaity videos.

But, How Do You Stay Informed On Important Matters?

To be honest, I didn’t feel like I was getting informed on things that REALLY matter through the major news channels. They mostly cover stuff that’s not really relevant. Too much celebrity stuff and “news” that don’t really make any difference.

I really feel news sites have moved in the same direction as the major social media platforms:

They try and pull us in with either fantastic or horrific headlines, that rarely make you any smarter or more informed. Their #1 goal is to have you spend as much time on their site as possible in order for them to make money from ads.

We’re in Denmark and it’s not as bad here as in the States, but it’s still pretty bad.

That said, there are definitely stories and news events I want to know (and that I should know), but I always find out when something truly interesting or important happens through my small daily social interactions.

Such as:

  • Chatting with Maria (my wife)
  • Meeting other parents when picking up Max from school
  • Walking by newsstands
  • Talking to friends on the phone
  • Etc.

When the war in Ukraine broke out, I know it the same day. Same thing when the queen of England died. Etc.

Shutting Out News Completely – isn’t it a bit Ignorant?

While I still don’t check any news sites, newspapers, social media platforms, etc. I do still get information on things I think are important.

Here are some alternative ways I try to stay informed on things that matter.

#1 – I listen to podcasts.

I follow one guy in particular who has a very deep understanding of politics, socio-economics, culture, etc. It’s Rebuilders/Mark Sayers, in case you’re interested. He provides fresh angles on what’s going on around us from a Christian leader’s perspective.

I love the podcast format because it allows for more in-depth journalism as people don’t shuffle around between windows and tabs when they turn on a podcast.

I put on a podcast when I have an hour to listen. Could be while commuting or as I take a walk around the block for some fresh air.

#2 – I like to watch documentaries.

I’m blessed with a wonderful wife who always digs up really interesting documentaries on things like food, health, world politics, sustainability, and much more.

We often sit down together and watch some of the best documentaries she has found, and I really enjoy this time together.

Rather than consume a lot of information on my own, I watch stuff together with Maria, and that always sparks interesting conversations.

I also feel that it deepens our marriage.

I meet way too many married couples who spend the majority of weeknights in the same room – but with two different screens. Of course, we also do that sometimes, but we make it a priority to regularly watch interesting stuff together that sparks good conversations.

How Has My News Fast Affected Me?

On a day-to-day basis, I feel less stressed out.

I definitely have more patience with Max and Maria, and I feel this most strongly when I somehow end up on a news-related site anyway. You know, sometimes you click something online and you accidentally end up on a news site (or similar).

Whenever that happens, I sense a mental fatigued pretty quickly as my eyes glance down over the headlines. It makes me want to leave as soon as possible.

It sounds like a cliché, but I really feel like my head now spins at a more natural pace, rather than spinning out of control wondering about everything that’s going on in the whole world – at the same time.

It’s also easier for me now to enjoy walks in the city, without having the itch to touch my phone.

What’s Next – Is It Time to Pick Up News Sites Again?

I really don’t see myself starting to consume news sites again in the foreseeable future.

I started this whole experiment out of a desire to go offline, and I still don’t feel like looking at the news sites and social media.

I don’t miss the news hype and the social media rush. I like to dig a bit deeper instead and have lots of time with Max. We have made it a priority to not watch screens around him, and not spending time on news sites and social media definitely helps in that regard!

Also, I don’t think news sites and social media, in general, are moving in a healthy direction, so I don’t think I’m gonna pick up where I left off.

Not anytime soon, at least.

We’ll see if I get sucked in again when it’s time for a new presidential election in the US :D However, I think I have a better plan next time.

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