Political news addiction is a cancer

In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love, you invest your life

In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die
And where you invest your love, you invest your life.

“Awake my Soul” by Mumford & Sons

I’m a recovered political news junky.

My liberation happened suddenly, almost cold turkey. That is the bright side. As to the not-so-bright-side, my time is spent, gone, and lost forever.

Before Facebook and Twitter were all-consuming, I remember sitting in my dorm room refreshing Drudge Report and reading news articles on websites. I was invested. Not surprisingly, news articles required less discernment and effort than my assigned readings.

Even as recently as five years ago, I watched Special Report with Bret Baier and Morning Joe on the regular. Was I a news junky or was I just slothful? Full of acedia, the sinner wastes his life.

Thankfully, I don’t watch television news, listen to talk radio, or read much of anything in terms of online articles these days. All of these things suck moments of life away and offer no redeeming value. The news is too filtered and too random to be of much use.

There is a popular myth that political news is somehow good and necessary for an informed civic life.

Political news talk and sports talk are two sides of the same coin. Political panels on Fox New Sunday are as enlightening as the table discussion at the men’s breakfast at New Beginnings. If you like that sort of thing, by all means watch those panels and enjoy yourself. However, don’t be delusional. Watching Fox News Sunday is not intrinsically better than watching baseball.

Most of us don’t have the expertise to be helpful advocates. Participating in mass outrage is unhelpful at best and irresponsible at worst. We resort to partisan shortcuts because that is the only rational thing to do given our limited information and microscopic amount of influence.

Most political news is irresponsible mass outrage. Commentators spin circles in well-worn debates, shouting vague political principles. There is no wisdom here.

This is not to say that political involvement itself is a waste. I don’t [yet] believe that. We just have to be realistic. Your life will be the same if Tonya Schuitmaker wins the Republican Party’s nomination for Attorney General of Michigan or if Tom Leonard wins. Don’t get too caught up in it.

We do well in terms of political involvement when we vote for the most virtuous candidate in any given race and to stay out of specific issues.

The major caveat to this point is if you happen to be an expert in a particular field and a particular bill or regulatory action relates to that field. Please get involved in that case, but this is the narrow exception.

A cold dose of realism, combined with an admission of my own limited impact, liberated me from political news.  If you’re watching the news daily, please ask yourself some questions. Are you getting a good return on your investment of time? Are you happier following the news?

Imagine what you can do instead of watching the news or reading political commentary online. You could read excellent things like the blog posts on this website, Calvin’s Institutes, Beza’s A Clear and Simple Treatise on the Lord’s Supper or Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism. You could start a business or advance your career.

You could even join a church plant. The possibilities are endless.

Do something. Fight the political news addiction cancer. Together, we will find a cure.

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