I’m in the midst of a news fast. [1]

This idea extends from the metaphor of “information as food”.

I am doing this because I've been feeling distracted by my Hacker News and Twitter habits.

Both sites have provided immense value, sharpening my thought and fueling my imagination. They also waste my time and put me into an anxious state where I get lost in a sea of disembodied voices of people who I’ve never met and will probably never meet.

There is a balance to strike between consumption and creation. If we were in an absolute vacuum we wouldn’t have perceptions to transform into expression.

But if we are constantly consuming, we’re not able to discern what is ours to bring into the world.

The poet David Whyte speaks about “holding the central conversation”. If we’re swirling in the morass of conversations that really don’t concern us, we diminish our ability to hold the conversations that do.

An astonishing amount of what the typical person spends their attention on is entirely irrelevant to their life.

It seems to me that some of this is harmless. But when it amounts to a major portion of our media diet, we should really consider the opportunity costs.

People often talk about such things as “distractions”. What do we mean by this? Distractions from what? What makes something a distraction?

Each of us has something to contribute to the world, and we can learn to bring our attention inward to listen and discern what it is. This is less based on a theory and more the result of direct observation. Anyone capable of consistent generativity knows this. There is something that speaks through artists and anyone else who taps into their creative potential.

It is the understanding of this creative potential that gives meaning to the idea of a distraction. It is any activity that blocks our access and ability to express from this place in us.

We’re trading in one of the most meaningful parts of our humanity–the capacity to create–for fleeting stimulation and entertainment that typically leaves us feeling unsatisfied.

Perhaps this is too dramatic? It rings true for me though, and I am determined to make media choices that are aligned with what actually matters to me.

What media nourishes you? What is analogous to junk food–good in the moment, but leaves you slightly sick? Are you good at monitoring when your consumption crosses the threshold of fueling your imagination into saturating and muddling your interior with noise?

You may try fasting on certain types of media for a week to see what impact the absence has on you.


[1] If you're interested in reading an extended argument for why your news consumption should be minimized, read this pdf by Rolf Dobelli. It's called Avoid News: Towards a Healthy News Diet.