When it comes to the news, is it really that healthy to be updated via constant “push” alerts from the news outlet of your choice?

Until recently, I had constant news alerts on my phone.

In the beginning, it seemed like it was usually big news like “such and such announces resignation” and “tsunami reported in the Pacific.”

But, of course, I could be remembering incorrectly.

As time went on, I kept on getting more alerts. It seemed I went from maybe four or five a day to having that number every hour. Sometimes more.

It was like a constant distraction. “See what’s going on in the news NOW!”

Often, it seemed like the breaking news was shrinking and the junk news was growing.

Well, “junk” may be the wrong word. I just don’t consider analyses, commentaries and news about state senators in Alaska to be “breaking” news.

When I took a vacation a few weeks ago, I turned all my news alerts off.

I noticed that even without the push alerts, I was staying pretty well informed.

It’s not hard to do so. Usually, after I check out the local happenings in the paper, I’ll visit news.google.com and see what the top news is. There’s other categories I check out too, science, technology and one I have for Arkansas news.

Plus, I’ll listen to NPR or download the BBC podcast to listen to in my car to and from work.

By the time I lay my head down at night, I have a pretty good grasp on what’s going on in the world without having to check my phone constantly.

Purveyors of junk

One thing I don’t do is (well, maybe it counts as two) visit Facebook or Twitter to find out what’s going on. Yeah, there’s lots of breaking news on them but it’s breaking news from a thousand (often not reliable) sources all at once plus the distraction of hundreds of commentators being either wrong, willfully ignorant or just trolling. They aren’t places that are receptive to the whole idea of stepping back and looking dispassionately at the facts or attempting to look at it from “the others’” point of view.

We’re just constantly slammed by information. So much so that I think we’ve become over-informed on a lot of stuff that isn’t really important. Every faux-pas, mis-statement and perceived transgression immediately gets scrutinized, judged and, usually, overblown ruining careers and turning many into pariahs so a few strangers can pat themselves on the back.

Several large news organizations have been distracted by that sort of thing, usually originating on Twitter, and they follow the rabble down the rabbit hole as well.

People mess up; that’s just a fact of life. It always has been. I guess the difference between now and 10 years ago is that you weren’t apt to become national news for saying something stupid on Twitter or on someone’s smartphone. Now you are and you’re chased down by legions of people who want their internet fame for taking you down.

That’s why I stay off Twitter. I mis-speak all the time. I usually try to learn from it and do better next time. I’m sure most people do that. But, then again, I think many of us are lucky enough not to be caught on video. Once you go viral, there’s no coming back.

Anyway, I’m not giving advice. I’m not an authority on lessening stress and unlike many bloggers, I’m not going to say you should be like me.

I hate people that do that.

You may be happy with your push alerts and your political fighting on social media. I’ve found something that’s worked for me and I guess that’s really what matters.

Weirdo who writes futurist-tinged columns about technology and science’s impact on society by night. Unfortunately, 2020 compels me to do politics too.

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