BRENT STOLLER

Writer. Advice giver. Peanut butter and chocolate enthusiast.

Should I Stop Following the News?

Woman holding a sign at a political rally

If something drives you crazy, why would you keep doing it?

I don’t know.

Which is why I don’t know why I keep following the news.

I’ve never been a political person, because for most of my life, I never had an interest in it.

This is embarrassing to admit, but until the 2012 presidential election, I hadn’t ever voted.

To that point, the extent of my political knowledge was limited to the roughly 7 to 12 percent of “West Wing” story lines I could actually understand. And because there was no Josiah Bartlet on the ballot, I began paying attention to the coverage in hopes of making an educated decision.

Since, I’ve continued following along from afar.

I still don’t consider myself to be political, nor do I identify with either party.

I’m an outsider, positioned in the middle, doing my best to observe and evaluate each argument from every side. Check my Google history, and you’ll find a log of websites that’s balanced between left to right.

Yet that neutrality hasn’t stopped my blood pressure from spiking when I open the wrong article.

In fact, it’s those wrong articles I can’t stop myself from reading.

Nothing gets me to click quicker than a headline with which I disagree.

Through my experience as a sports fan, I thought I’d rid myself of this gluttony for punishment. Whenever my favorite teams lose, I’ve learned to avoid the post-game analysis, because there’s nothing good in it for me.

But somehow, when it comes to the news, my inner masochist takes control. And as I make my way through each paragraph, the anger inevitably builds, culminating in an indignant fury:

How could anyone think this?

Even the stories I agree with drive me nuts.

Though I initially appreciate someone translating my thoughts into a coherent argument, the validation is fleeting. And by the time I reach the end, that indignant fury has returned:

How could anyone not think this?

Given my ongoing efforts to become more of an adult, I understand the value of knowing what’s going on in the world.

But what’s the cost of doing so? Does the net gain outweigh the net rage?

In this polarizing climate that’s overrun with hysterical rhetoric, is it possible to be informed without being infuriated?

If I reverted to my old ways of watching nothing but “Seinfeld” reruns and reading about nothing but Texas Longhorns athletics, what would be the result?

Would I be happier?

Would I be more satisfied?

Would I be more or less capable of being of service to my family, friends and community?

I don’t know.

But it might be worth finding out.

 

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