The relevant versus the new is the fundamental battle of the modern man. —Rolf Dobelli in Avoid News

I recently came across this Avoid News piece by Rolf Dobelli. I do not think that this article is particularly good; there are some places (e.g. §2) which seem fallacious to me, and also it doesn’t address the thought that it is important for one to know what’s going on in the wider world to have a proper sense of perspective, and an understanding of what one’s fellow humans are going through—Dobelli seems to argue that the news is almost never relevant to our own lives; sure, but that isn’t a reason to avoid it.

But there are lots of good points too. Over the past couple of years I have grown increasingly frustrated with the amount of stuff in the news that isn’t important that must be sifted through to stay informed. In fact I tend to find myself going in phases. A family-inculcated belief that it’s important to know what’s going on in the world battles with an extreme disinterest in most of what is presented to me. I prefer listening to From Our Own Correspondent or reading a proper essay about current society in the New York Review of Books than blasting my way through the newspaper each day.

I used to have the Guardian, New York and London Reviews of Books and the Economist delivered to my e-book reader for free thanks to Calibre, software that simply downloads all the articles from the websites of these publications and then sends them over wirelessly; in no sense is this copyright infringement or anything.

But now I’ve turned off the Guardian, and plan to rely on the Economist for news. I am happy to be up to a week behind on things. I despair at the false sense of urgency in news channels with dramatic jingles (in my house the Sky Sports News jingle gets heard a lot). It makes you think that international news is an exciting story we can watch over from here in Britain, and local news is pumped up to being the really important stuff. And then of course there is the classic complaint that certain stories are fixated on when so much else goes on too. So time to retreat to more thoughtful and calm writing for issues that are serious enough to deserve that.