Lose the News
by Chris Mayer
Today’s topic is “the news.” Specifically, how consuming it can turn your brain into soft cheese and make you a lousy thinker and investor.
I think the message here is important – and potentially life-changing. Does it sound like I am exaggerating? Hang in there and keep reading. You tell me what you think after you’ve read what I’ve got here.
The impetus for this is an essay by Rolf Dobelli, a Swiss entrepreneur, titled “Avoid News.” Dobelli makes the case that news makes us distracted, wastes time, kills deeper thinking, fills us with anxiety and is toxic to our mental health. His analogy: “News is to the mind what sugar is to the body.”
I shared the essay with my wife Carol after I read it. It made an impact. Carol offered to cancel her electronic subscription to The New York Times if I would cancel my print subscriptions to The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times. (We already ditched The Washington Post. I got tired of contributing to the salaries of Steven Pearlstein and Ezra Klein, who must be the worst writers on economics in America still getting paychecks.) Neither of us watches TV news.
I had to think about this offer. I love reading the newspapers every morning over breakfast and tea. I also passed on the letter to a buddy of mine who is in the business of advising institutional clients where to put their money. Dobelli had him convinced too, and the next day, he told me he left his WSJ and FT unread.
So what is Dobelli saying? Let me hit some high points.