#166: Why DC Went on a News Fast and How You Can Too
#166: Why DC Went on a News Fast and How You Can Too
DC and Adam are back to talk about... the news?! That's right. In a year that's been dominated by the news, DC has figured out how to tune it out. But not in favor of ignorance. Instead, he does it for his own sanity and productivity.
In this episode, you'll learn about DC's eight-year-long news fast, how it's helped him focus on what's most important, and why it's the ultimate mood builder. Plus, hear how he tunes it out, but still manages to check in.
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Speaker 1: Before we get to the show, did you know you can get more insights just like the ones you're listening to right here on Seeking Wisdom, delivered right to your inbox? Sign up to get my weekly newsletter. It's called The One Thing at drift. com/ dc. What's going on? We're back. It's episode 166 of Seeking Wisdom. The universe's only six star only podcasts. And I have the young, young, young Jedi, Adam Schoenfeld, here. He's tanned, he's got the hair of a God. He's ready to drop some knowledge here on Seeking Wisdom.
Adam Schoenfeld: I appreciate the hair of the God compliment, that made my day.
Speaker 1: Look at my hair. You have to watch the YouTube videos to take a look at my hair. Take a look. Don't tell them anything yet.
Adam Schoenfeld: crosstalk full 360 degree view right there.
Speaker 1: 360, I'm giving you 360 looks here, but you have to go on YouTube and subscribe, and make sure to hit the bell so we get notifications when we drop new Seeking Wisdom episodes. So what are we talking about here, Jedi?
Adam Schoenfeld: For those people on audio who just heard that and haven't come to YouTube yet, I don't know what else we could possibly do, but we're going to go forward with the show. This is another one of the what do you wish you knew when you were younger series.
Speaker 1: Sure.
Adam Schoenfeld: You should never read or watch the news, please.
Speaker 1: Please. End of episode. All right, let's go back in time. So this is about avoiding the news. One of the things that we talk a lot about and we think a lot about, is that we are the average of the five people that are around us. We've talked about that a lot. One thing that we miss in doing that in talking about, or even thinking about that, is that that does not have to be literally the people around us. But it is the information, the environments that we put ourselves around. We average out. At the end of the day, we have no chance but to average out. Because one of the traps that people fall into is this idea of that there's some great filter. That they could filter the bad advice that they're getting from a friend or from their environment, or from whoever they're listening to, and the news in this case, and just pick out the nuggets, the good stuff. The truth is, all of us are lousy at filtering. And even if you think you're not paying attention to the bad stuff, that stuff is actually being processed and is affecting you. And so for me, I started to think a lot about what are the things from an environment standpoint that are not helping me. And there was a point, and now I have now watched news in, I don't know how long, eight years. Yeah, maybe something like that. I used to be this NPR junkie, and so I used to listen to NPR all the time. I used to commute into work long before the pandemic days and I had a long car ride, and so I used to listen to NPR all the time. And it just so happened at the time that I was driving to work each morning, the one thing that was on was the BBC. And so for all of you who have not listened to the BBC, go listen. Amazing, amazing content and amazing topics that were being discussed. But what I found after a while was that there was so much negative news coming in. And this was from a great source, the BBC, that it was starting to affect me, because I felt helpless. I felt like I couldn't do anything, I felt like there was so much bad stuff going on. And at one point I was like," Wait a second. Every morning driving in all I hear is,'Bong, 542 dead in mass genocide in Rwanda.' Bong, killings, mass killings, bong, war declared and whatever. Bong, economic collapse. Bong, the bong is the noise that they do on the BBC. And it was just, it would just keep going. The whole car ride is bong, more bad news. And it was like," Oh my God, I can't take this." And this was every single day. And then so at some point, and this was so long ago that it was an old election cycle, so it might be more than eight years ago now. And I was just like," I can't do it anymore." And I started to fast on news. And what I noticed right away was once I turned off the news of any sort, I used to read online news, I used to consume... I used to get The Economist and other news magazines. I used to listen to NPR, as I said. I was just consumed by news all the time. And if there was a TV around me, I didn't watch TV, but I might've had news on. So I was just consuming so much news. When I did a fast and got rid of all of it, my mood brightened up. It gave me much more energy in the day to focus on the things I needed to focus on. I didn't feel as helpless. Obviously all those things are going on, obviously the news would leak to you. And the thing that I figured out when people would ask me, was," How do you know what's going on?" And it's, the important things in the world, the critical, really, really important things, you're going to hear. Either through social media or through your friends or through your family, you're going to hear the most important news. And I don't need to hear about every blip happening each day. And so it's been one the best techniques that I've found to be able to focus and to have quality time, quality life, is to avoid the news at all costs.
Adam Schoenfeld: It's amazing that you went from huge news junkie to fasting. Because that to me sounds like just," Hey, I want to get fit. So I'm going to go in the gym and benchpress 400 pounds, and I'm going to run a marathon tomorrow."
Speaker 1: Yeah.
Adam Schoenfeld: So what caused you to do it in the extreme way, rather than saying," Oh, I'll do less read news." Or is there some principle hidden in that, or was it just a situational thing in that moment eight years ago?
Speaker 1: Well, there's one I will say, my natural personality is to go to either end of the spectrum, and so I'm either in or out 100%. But at the time, and I continue to do this, I was really thinking a lot about morning routines, because I was trying to get good at a morning routine. I was thinking about habits and how do you form habits and things like that. And so because of that, I was really in the mode of testing. And so for me, to do a real A/ B test, for me, it would have to be one extreme or the other, I couldn't really filter out... I didn't think I could filter out the noise if I went 30% or 50%, I was still getting news. Because then the question would not be," Was it the right amount of news," then it would be," What's the quality of the news?" It would just open up so many other variables. Is it the quality of the news, is the source of news, was at 30% or 50%? It just, I had to go from one extreme to another, just to see first, as the first order filter, did I notice any difference? And if I didn't, then maybe I would have tried some other variations, but going cold turkey is really what let me see what the news was doing to me. How much news do you watch?
Adam Schoenfeld: Almost none. Almost none.
Speaker 1: Good. Almost, though.
Adam Schoenfeld: A little bit. So my wife's a big NPR consumer, and so I get it through her.
Speaker 1: crosstalk.
Adam Schoenfeld: So I'm confident that she's going to bring whatever is really important crosstalk-
Speaker 1: Yeah, yeah.
Adam Schoenfeld: ...or somebody will tell me. So I don't watch her or read a lot of news. But I do find, and I'm curious how you'd respond to this, that the world has stacked against me on that.
Speaker 1: For sure.
Adam Schoenfeld: Apple keeps trying to tell me that I need to look at news. Every little app and website seems to be pushing news my way. So yeah, how do you advise people who are like," I agree with you, but I can't escape the onslaught of news. It's just coming at me."
Speaker 1: Yeah. I just keep turning, turn it off, filter, delete, delete. It just, it's nonstop. But one thing, because us in the US here went through a presidential election cycle recently, that you really see during that but it's true at all times, but it really is heightened there, is we will all have family that are on one side or the other, or both sides or whatever. And you see the ones, and usually, not always, but if you have a grandparents or parents, usually they're more consumed with news, meaning television news. So whether it's Fox News or CNN or MSNBC, those people who spend their whole day watching news, you could see how spun up and much in a frenzy, no matter what side of an argument they're on. And how much that's affecting them, how spun up and angry they are all the time and emotional about things. And so they're the perfect... Even before you do a news fast, look at the people around you right now who spend a lot of time focused on the news. Are they someone you want to emulate? Is that something that you want to be, do you want to be spun up and emotional like that all the time? If so, you know what to do. If not, now you know what to do.
Adam Schoenfeld: And I know that you still read a lot of-
Speaker 1: Oh, yeah.
Adam Schoenfeld: ...articles and information. Just not the feed of alert, alert, alert. So what did this do for you once you cleared the news? Did you have a bunch of space to slot in? Because now I know you're big in Stratechery and following crosstalk-
Speaker 1: Yeah.
Adam Schoenfeld: ...and Devin's stuff. And some of these things that now seem very high signal, crosstalk.
Speaker 1: Yeah, it let me have more time to filter, like you said. So I have high signal sources that I let back in, but it also like, but they're not really topical news stuff. And then the second is, it let me have more time to spend reading books and studying history and then seeing those patterns. And so that has been greatly beneficial for me to be able to have that time to do that, with the amount of news that I was consuming, even without it being something that I was actively choosing. It was almost like I was defaulting into this news cycle and spending time reading news. I didn't have time in my life for anything else. I didn't have time to read as much as I wanted to read. I didn't have time to find high quality, well- filtered sources. I didn't have time for any of that stuff. So if you're watching news on TV or on YouTube or on wherever you're doing it or listening to it all the time, you're taking that space away to actually be able to filter, find other sources, find other patterns that might be more helpful.
Adam Schoenfeld: Let's say somebody is out there and like," I want to do a news fast," which is a great headline to think about. What would you say is the minimum time where they might start to feel some of that energy lift? Is it a day, is it a week? Do you need to pair it with a Wim Hof cold shower or intermittent fasting and not eat breakfast? Or is there any sort of crosstalk?
Speaker 1: crosstalk and YouTube. inaudible right there, see that shirt? If you like that shirt, let us know. Leave a six star review and you might be able to get one of these shirts sent to you. So what do we pair with it? That's a great question, Adam. I think, and how long would you spend? I'd say a minimum of two months. Two months, you want to go... I think there's a... I forgot the study, the London- based study. I think it's in Atomic Habits or another book crosstalk-
Adam Schoenfeld: It's the habits one, the number of days... Typical, yeah. It's like 60-ish-
Speaker 1: Yeah. It's like 67, 68 days. Something like that, it's not... Or 66, I can't remember the number. But it's north of 65 and less than 70, but it's not this idea of 30 days or less or two weeks or whatever, but it's actually longer than you think. So I would say, go for 70 days to make sure, to make sure that it's actually working. And see if a new habit or a set of habits can emerge because of the time that you've given back to yourself.
Adam Schoenfeld: Love it.
Speaker 1: And by the way, Adam, I want to make sure everyone knows. Seeking Wisdom is not news, we are seeking wisdom here. We have no wisdom, but we're seeking it and we're sharing what we're doing. But this is not news so this does not count on your news fast. I want to see more subscribers, more six star ratings, more comments on Adam's hair and less comments on mine.
Adam Schoenfeld: That's right. We're trying to do timeless stuff here. I actually go back to the early episodes all the time and re-listen.
Speaker 1: Me too, I started to do that recently too. And a good friend, listener to the podcast fan, I remember he did the first 50... Was it the first 50 or first... Yeah, first 100. He did a post that I found recently, I think it was the first 50th, of basically summarizing the first 50 Seeking Wisdom podcast. We're up to 166 now. So whoever wants to do from 50 to 166, let me know. We'll promote it, we'll send out some love.
Adam Schoenfeld: Yeah, one of those nice T- shirts. All right, any closing thoughts on this?
Speaker 1: Or a hoodie, or a hat.
Adam Schoenfeld: Or a hoodie. I don't even have one of the fancy hoodies.
Speaker 1: You don't? Oh my goodness. See that? If you leave a six star rating here, you might have a hoodie before Adam has the hoodie.
Adam Schoenfeld: That's what we're talking about. Customers, the audience, comes first. Employees get the swag second, that's how it should be.
Speaker 1: I will make sure I get one for Adam. I don't know if it could fit with his hair though, it might have to be a zip up hoodie.
Adam Schoenfeld: An XL hood.
Speaker 1: Yeah, a zip up hoodie. All right.
Adam Schoenfeld: All right, thank you everyone.
Speaker 1: Thank you everyone for listening. You know what to do, six star only podcast, the universe's only. Please leave a comment for young Adam. He's young and he's hungry for wisdom. So I'm old and I'm hungry for wisdom. Take care. Let me know what you thought of this episode by texting me at one, two, one, two, three, eight, zero, 10, 36. Again, one, two, one, two, three, eight, zero, 10, 36. Now if you're looking for more leadership insights, sign up for my weekly newsletter, The One Thing at drift. com/ dc. Every week I'll share a habit, tool or mental model that's helping me reach my goals. I hope to see you there. Text me, hit me up.