A recent episode of Virtue in the Wasteland mentioned the notion of a “newspaper renaissance” on the heels of a discussion about the anxiety induced by the perceived exigency of mobile news alerts.
There seems to be increasing awareness and discussion surrounding the mentally and socially corrosive nature of social media. I haven’t used Facebook for almost 5 years now, and removed myself from Twitter last year. I still maintain a private Instagram profile, but don’t even have the app installed.
I’m finding enjoyment in newspapers myself. The LA Times’ e-newspaper is delivered to my inbox daily, and soon the print version of the Sunday edition will be delivered my front door. I don’t read the whole thing, and I don’t feel the need to. And, contrary to the designs devised by UX researchers for all of your favorite apps, it’s not engineered to make me feel that need. In many ways, it’s the antithesis of the algorithmically generated feed – static, focused, and rhythmic. It’s not perpetually updated or A/B tested. And in many (though not all) ways it feels like an antidote the to the malaise of a perpetual noise cycle.
Some might find it ironic that a software developer eschews new media in favor of something old and established. On the contrary, some of the best principles and practices of software development are rooted in tried and true practices (object-oriented programming, SOLID, KISS, etc.). Knowing that might help the unfamiliar reader better understand my disposition toward old and boring things.
Furthermore, restricting the form of my news intake has practical benefits for my work; the less noise, the greater the ease of concentration. And anyone who has programmed software will tell you the importance of focus in deep work. Cal Newport has written extensively on this.
Many of our distractions and anxieties are engineered for us. Do what you must to curb them, and let your work and life flourish on your terms.