What I Learned from Following the News Instead of Social Media
We've all been witnesses to the slew of articles outlining the benefits of social media cleanses—here's one more to add to the list. But this time, there are only two rules:
Log out of all social media accounts.
Download a news application.
Okay, seems simple enough. What's the catch?
Do not delete the application itself or the account—just log out. For every time you open up one of those logged-out applications, you must replace the time you would've spent scrolling aimlessly through posts with reading a news article instead.
Okay, but why?
Deleting the application from your phone also removes the luring Twitter bird or the beckoning Snapchat ghost. We don't want to rid the temptation; that's the easy way out. Allow yourself to be tempted and don't stop yourself from opening the application. Every time you subconsciously open Instagram or Facebook, the log-in and sign-up page will force you to recall that embarrassing "jus1nB1eber" password from seventh grade if you really want to see that egg picture that broke the Instagram record for the most likes. Well, that wasn't really worth it, now was it? By subconsciously opening various social media applications while waiting in line at a coffee shop or when pretending to be busy in public as you wait for a friend to meet up, you will become more aware of how many times you actually use social media every day.
You'd be surprised at how much you can learn by this simple switch. So yes, you can still occupy yourself with your phone in public to give the allusion that you're a busy and noteworthy person, but now you actually are.
Alright, sounds simple enough. What can I expect to get out of this?
After following these two rules for one week, I came across these findings.
The news is like social media for public figures. Many of the things on social media overlap with what you find on the news. But instead of your best friend Sarah posting about her salad for lunch, it's about what Kim Kardashian had for lunch. Or that one fashion blogger's "OOTD" post could be replaced with the president's stance on foreign policies. Many people shy away from social media cleanses for fear of missing out on the latest trends, but by reverting to news articles instead, you are still remaining current and informed—just about different things.
The news is what you want it to be. The news doesn't have to be so dull, or too heavy or boring—the news is what you want it to be. Many news applications and websites allow you to filter through what you are most interested in and will curate feeds catered to those interests. Curious about leaked documents of Donald Trump's presidency? There's an article for that. Want to learn about an owl that can see with its eyes closed? There's an article for that too. And if after all that, you still really wanted to know about that infamous egg and its competitor Kylie Jenner, well guess what? There's even an article for that.
You'll have more to contribute in conversations. Things will come full circle. You'll now be equipped with the necessary information on current events needed to contribute to society in a meaningful way. And now instead of waiting on your politically progressive, or aggressive, uncle to Tweet about the latest accusations in the White House to be in the know, you can get a head start, from more reliable sources, to cultivate your own opinions and feelings about such topics.
Articles are like pages to a story-book. It may take a bit of time at first to catch up with the news but after a while you'll begin to realize many of the top news stories are suspect to repetition in the world of journalism. Often times these articles are further developed through follow-up stories. So with added time and increased curiosity, you'll inevitably ask "What happens next?" This then creates a healthy cycle of news consumption and involvement.
You will always have the time if you make it. Far too often do we hear the excuse "I don't have time," in regards to staying current with the news. This claim can easily be debunked through the rearranging of priorities. With this particular "experiment," the solution was simple: Make time by removing a different activity that also takes time. As a result, I found myself using my phone less because I'd get bored or tired of reading the news faster than I would have if I were on social media.
So next time you want to pick up your phone and scroll through any given social media platform, consider this: Is switching out that "#tbt" post from your elementary school friend with a news article instead really the end of the world?