In the past few decades, the fortunate among us have recognised the hazards of living with an overabundance of food (obesity, diabetes) and have started to change our diets. But most of us do not yet understand that news is to the mind what sugar is to the body. News is easy to digest. The media feeds us small bites of trivial matter, tidbits that don't really concern our lives and don't require thinking.This has been on my mind for a long time: Most of the stuff you learn via the news is just as relevant for your actual life as, for example, the politics of Westeros. It’s too far away to matter, a single incident (that we can’t help but generalize), too limited a perspective (a single person writing about a general issue), etc. The uselessness of that knowledge can be easily demonstrated by looking at a newspaper from a year ago: how much of its content is still worth knowing today?
Furthermore, for biological reasons, negative things more easily attract our attention than positive things, which is why the former make up most of the news. But that skews our perception. To balance it, we would also need to know about people who are currently incredibly happy.
I don’t advocate ignoring news completely, but you should limit your exposure. It is not my only news source, but I find that Twitter filters the news quite nicely for me; there is a focus on creativity and fun. But I only follow a few, carefully selected people and try to avoid tweeters that complain too much.
For pop culture and society news, I’d love to see more positive reporting: highlighting creativity and encouraging multi-facted thinking, as opposed to “fashion fail” negativity and simplistic “she betrayed him” drama.
So, the next time you feel smug about knowing something about global politics (etc.) that someone else doesn’t – remember: you may only know simple factoids, that may not even be that useful.