Sometime around the start of the year, I started to take a form of ‘reading break‘. It’s where you de-tune yourself from the daily consumption of media, and instead, read a book!
As I work on the internet, I wasn’t planning to take time away from work, so would still be using the internet. However, I decided that I would stop reading all social media and stop watching/listening/reading any form of general or sensationalised news.
Specifically, I stopped reading/writing tweets and Facebook status updates, I stopped watching TV in the mornings (BBC Breakfast) and I generally avoided any TV or internet sites that predominantly display news.
I planned to do it for a week, and see how I felt.
15 weeks later, I can’t imagine going back!
The way I used Twitter and Facebook meant that I read pretty much everything that people wrote (I follow/friend less than 100 people, most of whom are not heavy posters). If I didn’t check them for a few days, I felt I should ‘catch up’ on what I missed. I felt that to keep up to date with other people’s lives, I should be reading what they are doing.
What I’ve noticed is that I don’t miss it at all. Especially Facebook. Looking at FB today, it’s amazing how much of what people write (me included) is dross. It’s unrequired information. Does it benefit me in any way to know that Jane is going on holiday to Bali? No, not really. Unless Jane is a close friend, in which case I would find out from talking to her. Does it benefit me in any way to know that Margaret Thatcher just died, or that Cyrus is in financial trouble? (the second one slightly, but guess what, the most important news stories come up in conversation anyway!).
Instead, I’ve read a bunch of books since the start of the year, some of which will fundamentally change the way I live and work, and some have just been great fun reading. I now try to spend an hour each morning reading before going to work, and can honestly say it’s on of the most valuable hours in my day.