After visiting the actual Walden, I read Thoreau’s book of the same name, in which he says, “To a philosopher, all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea.”
C.S. Lewis, a hero of mine, was also known for being notoriously aloof from the major social events of his time. Personally, I’m not entirely opposed to keeping up with world events. I have a few hangups with the news though. And so, in the style of Thoreau, I’ll try to explain:
First, news is always filtered through some more or less unreliable source. If I could get the news from Thoreau or a revolutionary modern statesman or Jeffrey Holland, I think I’d find it more worth listening to. As it is, you just never know how much spin you’re getting. If I’m trying to get the lay of the land, I want to climb to the tallest tree, not dive in a mud puddle.
Second, this is a huge world, and all kinds of crazy stuff goes on every day. If you try to keep up with it, it’s like drinking from a firehose. You can’t catch it all, and even if you did, you’ve got another lake’s worth to drink the next day. Isn’t your time better spent on a classic–something that will stand the test of time–instead of something that will instantly become “old news”?
And last, the news is about 95% negative. But the world itself isn’t that negative, not nearly. Yet the filters I mentioned above choose to only give us the negative. I find it draining. Now, I’m not saying I want to ignore hard truths–you’re right that we need to face them. But we should face them with solutions at the forefront of our mind. The news doesn’t look at solutions, only problems.
In short, if I’m going to spend 10 minutes a day reading, I think I’d rather spend it with Thoreau. Again I’m not saying it’s foolish to read the news. It isn’t. I’m just sharing my perspective so you can understand a little better, since I know I’m the odd man out.
Would love to hear your thoughts below. Thanks for reading!