I have spent most days since then getting the news mainly from print, though my self-imposed asceticism allowed for podcasts, email newsletters and long-form nonfiction (books and magazine articles). Basically, I was trying to slow-jam the news — I still wanted to be informed, but was looking to formats that prized depth and accuracy over speed.
It has been life changing. Turning off the buzzing breaking-news machine I carry in my pocket was like unshackling myself from a monster who had me on speed dial, always ready to break into my day with half-baked bulletins.
Now I am not just less anxious and less addicted to the news, I am more widely informed (though there are some blind spots). And I’m embarrassed about how much free time I have — in two months, I managed to read half a dozen books, took up pottery and (I think) became a more attentive husband and father.
Most of all, I realized my personal role as a consumer of news in our broken digital news environment.
We have spent much of the past few years discovering that the digitization of news is ruining how we collectively process information. Technology allows us to burrow into echo chambers, exacerbating misinformation and polarization and softening up society for propaganda. With artificial intelligence making audio and video as easy to fake as text, we’re entering a hall-of-mirrors dystopia, what some are calling an “information apocalypse.” And we’re all lookin
Thank you Farhad Manjoo. So true, and so important. I noticed that my iphone kept sending me news and email and twitter updates, though I never signed up for such interruptions. It took me months to realize, that if I searched, I could find the boxes in settings to turn off all these horrid little interruptions. Now, I’m trying to get up the nerve to unsubscribe from 30 important organizations that abuse my inbox. I just wrote to MoveOn.org, you must stop the daily emails, and weekly is not acceptable. You can ask for money no more than twice a year. I will accept a monthly summary of issues, petitions and candidates to support. I doubt they will honor my request, and I will be litterally, Moving On. x David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNewsWorldwide.wordpress.com