Information overload (dumblittleman.com)

I do not know about you, but I often feel overwhelmed by the amount of information we have access to nowadays because of the internet. I want to be well informed about what is going on in the world, but there are simply to many news outlets and too many articles and I cannot decide on what is important and what is not. Recently, this made me feel so discouraged that I decided I had to find a way to read the news and stay informed about the things most relevant to me without having to comb through unbelievable amounts of information.

If you happen to be a perfectionist like that, who just wants to be able to absorb all the relevant information in as little time as possible, you probably know, like me, that this kind of expectation for yourself can be really distressing and exhausting. This is why I want to share with you my journey to having a more relaxed relationship with the daily news. Maybe this blog post will inspire you to try it yourself.

The mindset

Anxiety happens when you feel like you have to figure out everything all at once. Breathe. You are strong. You got this. Take it day by day.

Karen Salmansohn

The first thing you have to realise is that what you are worrying about is not an insurmountable and not even a very important issue. Believe me, I have been so overwhelmed by all the information available to me, I have cried about it. All because it triggered in me the feeling that I would never be able to keep track of everything going on in the world. Somehow, seeing all these articles, photos, documentaries, interviews… made me feel like I was not good enough.

When I think about it right now, it sounds like I was way too overdramatic. Now that I am starting to get over this problem I had with the news, it almost seems ridiculous that I was crying to myself about not being able to read about all the depressing things going on in the world – because, sadly, the news mostly show us the negative stuff.

However, I know how real this feeling of being overwhelmed and sad was and it is not totally gone. I still feel it creeping up on me sometimes. And in that moment, it does not feel ridiculous at all. On the contary, feeling like one´s not good enough is a horribe feeling.

But I hope that, if you have the same problem as me, you can start to see that this is not about you not being smart or informed enough. There is just too much information and there is absolutely no need for you to know all of it. Informing yourself about what is going on in the world should not feel like an obligation. You should do it because you want to read about the things you are interested in – and only about these.

Think about what you want to read

You have to find what sparks a light in you so that you in your own way, can illuminate the world.

oprah winfrey

What is important to you? What are the headlines and news stories that stick with you? What would you not want to miss?

I think it is really sad if we just consume the news as quickly as possible, not really paying attention to what we are reading. If we do this, and I have done it myself for a long time, it only shows that we are not interested in what we are reading. And when we are not interested, we do not remember it. Thus, trying to get informed about the world in this way is simply a waste of time. The only thing it does is make you unhappy.

Consequently, it is crucial that you find the topics that you are interested in and the news outlets that give you the best information on them. Of course, it is always good to compare news outlets and to sometimes read articles about other topics to broaden your horizon. However, never make this an obligation for yourself. If you force it, it will not be effective.

I personally like Aljazeera a lot. They give me information on the most pressing issues and conflicts around the world. As I am interested in Sustainable Development, for which peace is a key factor, this kind of news is important. I look at the most recent headlines on their very nicely organised website every morning and click only on those that really interest me. If I have time, I will additionally watch some documentary or interview on a topic I am particularly interested in while I make myself lunch. This way, I am aware of the most important world news and I can become very well informed on those stories that are important to me. And this way, they stick with me.

Spend less time on the news and more on making your own experiences

As I have already said, only spend time on those news that you think bring value to your life. This does not mean reading only about the positive things. It just means that the news should become more of a thought-provoking impulse for you, something that intrigues you so much that you spend time on critically thinking about it. This is the only way news can become valuable for you.

The information that will stick with you the most are the experiences that you make yourself. I am not saying that you have to leave home and travel the world for this. Intriguing and enlightening experiences can be had everywhere. Everyone has a story to tell and it always feels more valuable if you hear a story from a person right in front of you than if you just spend a couple of seconds on reading a headline.

You do not have to spend hours every day reading or watching the news to be `well informed´. I mean, what does that even signify? With all the information available today, who could possibly say which information is necessary to be well informed and which is not? You do not have to spend hours every day reading or watching the news and you definetely do not have to do it to please anyone or to be `good enough´.

Conclusion

Try to find out what kinds of news stories are important to you. It is not worth it spending time on articles that do not interest or touch you because they will not stick with you. As soon as you stop consuming the news and start using it as a tool to broaden you knowledge on the topics you find intriguing, you will stop feeling discouraged by all the information. You will find that most of it is not important at all. Because, in the end, who do you want to please with this endless race to be `well informed´? The only person, or at the very least the primary person you should want to please when learning something is yourself. So why force yourself to comb through this mountain of information that only makes you unhappy? The news should inspire you to learn more about the world and they should make you feel empowered to do something about the sad stories that are told from all over the world. Because remember: you may be a small part of this world, but you are not insignificant!