Consuming Mainstream Media: The Side Effect and Why It Makes Me Feel Like Shit

For the past 3 years, these are the things I intentionally consume on a regular basis:

  • Content from my favorite writers/thinkers (they are my heroes)
  • Point of views from different people (during conversations)
  • Podcasts or interviews from people I admire
  • TED talks or any didactic videos
  • Books/Blogs
  • Documentaries
  • Movies with superb storytelling (or anything that sparks my interests)
  • Music (or any music-related content)
  • My writings (my reminders)

But because my job includes a lot of research, some days, I visit different websites and read different articles.

That’s fine. I love the serendipity I get from research. Thank you Internet.

But that’s it.

Everything else is forbidden. In particular, mainstream media: daily news, soap operas, and entertainment TV shows, and even Facebook news feed.

Note: They say that Facebook isn’t mainstream media. But I notice, it’s becoming mainstream, in a way. What do you think? And I’m just talking about its News Feed. Not Facebook as a whole.

Is it Bad to Consume Them?

No. Nothing’s evil with it of course. And I’m not that hypocrite to say that I’d never consumed them. Sometimes I’m tempted. Sometimes my curiosity takes over. I’m trying my best.

In general, it’s just a matter of preference. I prefer not.

Here’s why: I feel like shit after consuming them.

I might be wrong. Let me explain.

The Shitty Brain

Growing up in the Philippines, I wonder why adults watch the news first thing in the morning. Then they watch entertainment shows during lunch. Watch the news again in the evening, and after that, the soap operas.

The cycle repeats the next day. And the next day. Unbelievable.

Now, those were the times when there was no social media and the Internet was inaccessible. But what about these days? What are the adults doing?

  • Check Facebook or any social media if they get a chance.
  • Stream random videos (especially funny videos).
  • Binge watch TV series.
  • Watch soap operas and entertainment shows and the news every day.

Obviously, people nowadays have more options — maybe luckier — than people before the Internet era. Information and entertainment (and distractions) galore.

The result? A shitty brain.

Have you ever wondered:

  • Why you feel bad after watching a horrifying news?
  • Why you envy your peers despite what you have?
  • Why you keep making poor decisions?
  • Why you keep buying things you don’t really need?
  • Why you’re always angry with your fellowmen or sometimes the government?
  • Why you’re always stressed and fearful and tired?
  • Why you can’t start your art or business or anything you want to build?

Why?

Because you’ve been consuming excess shit every day: Advertisements and irrelevant information.

TV is mind-conditioning. Too much social media is toxic — it makes you unproductive and discontent and resentful. The daily news makes you reactive, it makes you feel bad and anxious all the time. And on, and on, and on.

It’s crazy. Your brain is being hijacked.

And if you’re thinking that it’s crucial to watch the daily news to stay updated, so be it. But what’s the update for? Are you going to solve all the problems of your country?

Rather than spending hours on mainstream media (or Facebook news feed), why not use your time creating something? Or maybe practicing a new skill. Or maybe reading a life-changing book.

I don’t watch the daily news. But I’m good. I’m safe. I’m happy doing the things I love. And I couldn’t be more fulfilled.

Why should we stop consuming them?

Entertainment Shows – You might say that they relieve stress and boredom. But they can be time-consuming, too. Why not find the source of your stress instead, and if possible, eliminate it? And if relieving stress or boredom is your goal, try reading a thought-provoking book, or discussing ideas/experiences/lessons with a friend, or crafting any art. Isn’t that more beneficial?

Soap Operas – The problem with soap operas is that they distort your reality. Why? Because the scenes in these programs rarely occur in everyday life, therefore giving you a wrong picture of the outside world. Rather than exploring life, you follow an ideology or a pre-determined path that is based on the soap operas. Of course, you never thought of that before.

Facebook News Feed – How many times you visited Facebook to check your friend only to find out you’ve been there for hours? That’s how Facebook news feed works. It’s designed to hook you, even control you rather than you controlling it. Worse is that, you feel bad about yourself afterwards. Why? Because you keep comparing yourself to others. I use this Chrome plugin to eliminate my Facebook news feed. Now I use Facebook on purpose.

Daily News – This is serious. The general notion is that if you don’t watch the daily news, you’re being irresponsible. Am I? As far as I know, being responsible has nothing to do with watching daily news. If you really want to be responsible, do something meaningful or offer your unique value to people. Because every time you consume irrelevant information, you lose hours you could have used for the things that matter most to you.

“You must clear out what you don’t want, to make room for what you do want to arrive.”  — Bryant McGill

The Argument

Most people argue that they get relevant information from the daily news, inspiration from soap operas, ideas from Facebook news feed, and joy from entertainment TV shows. I get it.

Yes, there are some advantages to a certain degree. But doesn’t mean they’re always welcome to enter our brain. Don’t make them a daily diet.

As the old adage goes, “Anything in excess is bad.”

Of course you still have the freedom to consume them. Who cares. And I don’t suggest that anyone should be like me. I’m pretty unusual, so what works for me might not work for you.

Point is: Let go of the idea that you need them every day to function as a productive or responsible individual.

In the words of Tim Ferris,

“Most information is time-consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside of your influence.”

Use your time and energy instead for creating something great.

The Experiment

Still skeptical? Let’s do an experiment. Try not to consume them for 3 days — just 3 consecutive days. I promise, you’ll see the difference.


PS: I may sound like a know-it-all perfectionist WTF guy, but hey, I’m no perfect like everyone else. In reality, it’s hard to avoid. And there were days that… well, I just gave in.

But I’m aware that I always have a choice — a choice to focus on the things that truly matter.

You have a choice too.

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Jade Panugan

Some interesting questions about life and human behavior: What if there's no money? Why we often feel the urge to prove that we're right and others are wrong? Why we get pissed off at someone not doing good things? Why we hate? Why it's hard to be content? I don't have all the answers, do you? Let's chat.