Practicing the low information diet is a wonderful way to help relieve some of the stress and anxiety that the modern world forces upon us.
Without reaching for my tin foil or armadillo hat just get, you need to realise that the media is simply a business, and they sell sensationalised headlines for a profit. They are in the business of stirring up anxiety, stress and advertising to promote their owners biased interests, subjective interpretation of facts, and get the maximum number of people tuning in.
Objectivity is a philosophical concept of being true independently from individual subjectivity caused by perception, emotions, or imagination. A proposition is considered to have objective truth when its truth conditions are met without bias caused by a sentient subject.Wikipedia
Modern media is incredibly pervasive. It invades your life through your Television, The radio at home and in your car, your music streaming service, your email inbox, through your social media platforms and of course through printed media which always finds itself littering our environment alongside fast food plastic wrappers and things like cigarette butts. What a sad state of affairs!
My father switched on the TV this morning to get his ‘Daily news and weather summary’ and in one 30 minute viewing I counted up 13 minutes of advertising; selling us portable walrus cleaning kids, electric dog polishers and gasoline powered sweaters.
In the remaining 17 minutes, apart from the usual sound bites and flashing lights and animated intro screens, we got the same sensationalised news headlines 7 times as they quickly repeated in succession. The volume varied incredibly during this viewing – I simply can’t believe their sound engineers don’t know what volume equalisation means, indicating they subversively vary the volume to ensure advertising is as loud and pervasive as possible.
- Three dead in UK stabbing
- Police murder unarmed black man
- COVID-19 mutates into more aggressive stream of virus
- Share prices set to tumble as world enters recession
- COVID-19 infection rates increase and death toll grows
- Unemployment rate soars from 6% to 7.1%
- *some person I never heard about* banned from twitter for racist tweet
Let me be clear. These headlines do nothing to improve my life. This information is completely useless to me. It just upsets me and makes me sad. If I listened to this news all the time, I would be a nervous wreck. What a joke! I already have a fairly high pressure job, and a lot of family pressures going on at the moment, so I don’t need any more stress in my life! I don’t want to hear about all the negative aspects of society. Why can’t they report on the nice things and constructive human efforts?
Furthermore, I have pretty much ALL of my net worth invested; Superannuation, an Investment Property and in ETFs and LICs. I don’t need to hear someone constantly telling me what my assets are worth and how I am moments away from losing everything I have worked so hard for!
As I have mentioned earlier, in my studies of investment psychology, I learned that the human brain is for some reason geared towards preventing loss over celebrating gain. This is exploited by the media as they sneak the thin edge of the wedge in, and prey on these fears to get you hooked.
There is a reason why I only log into my Sharesight account once a month when I am doing my Net Worth updates, and why I only log into my Selfwealth brokerage account once a fortnight (when I have money to invest). Its because hawk-eyeing your shares is a dumb idea. Who cares what your shares are worth day-to-day when your holding them for the long term (30+ years). I personally buy an asset with the idea I am going to hold it for at least 10 years, and based on it being a cash flow positive investment or for the dividend yield!
If you hawk-eye your shares, and listen to the media, you are statistically more likely to panic and sell your shares. Its just a fact. We all think we are steely nerved long term buy and hold investors with the stomach to hold through significant corrections or even recessions, but only time will tell how investors react to bear markets.
Unfortunately, the majority that dabble will panic, and sell their shares, and flock to the perceived safety of fixed interest like cash and bonds, or maybe trying their luck hoarding commodities like gold or other precious metals. This is exaggerated by the media, who will likely boast about the huge gains in precious metals like gold and silver, creating a feedback loop which panics more investors and causes them to shift their assets.
Meanwhilst, the clever ‘ruling elite’ who control the media, government and polics among other things, start silently and slowly loading up on stocks and other assets (like property) whilst it trades at a juicy discount. Profitable businesses with good long term prospects that for some reason are trading at a crazy discount gets snapped up by those with buying potential.
Let me be clear: The only way to win this game of class warfare is not to play. You must work hard and create a large ‘income shovel’ from diversified sources, gigs and side-hustles, consistently live below your means and save as much of this income as possible, and finally you must invest this for the long term in diversified, productive and low management cost assets like total stock market index fund ETFs and low cost old school LICs.
Unplugging for Financial Independence
To help you in your pursuit, you should seek inspiration from the three tenets of Financial Independence: Simplicity, Frugality and Self-sufficiency. This means keeping it simple, concentrating your effort and life energy on thing that matter, learning to do and think for yourself and be as efficient as possible.
Rather than switching on the TV, unplug that sucker from the wall. Head down to your local library and grab a copy of one of the hundreds of books in the Captains Library and grow your mind. Rather than passively waiting to be told how to feel by the media, have some initiative and go and educate yourself. Learn the objective facts.
Its quite a fun game disconnecting from the media machine.
- When I want to watch a fun TV show or movie which I probably do once a week, I can stream it through the internet using a streaming service I share with friends of family (FYI I make this cost neutral by providing home grown, made or brewed goods, or sharing services like my internet wifi).
- When I listen to music I can do the same thing, and I cue up a good playlist of music and podcasts to listen to when I go for long road trips.
- The only time I ever use print media are when I am wrapping delicate items to go moving, or when I am starting a fire.
- I have difficulty with avoiding media, advertising and click-bait on social media, so I seriously restrict my participation on this on my private accounts. I mainly use these networks for messaging services to keep in touch with my widely geographically dispersed friends and family, but rarely would I ever ‘scroll the feeds’. As you likely know, I am far too active on the Captain FI Facebook and Instagram though!
- When I want actual news, I might do a quick flick between Al Jazeera and SBS Australia websites, although I have found these to be the best provider of objective and unbiased information, they still have a lot of crap.
Summary of the low information diet
I didn’t want this post to sound like a conspiracy theorist rant, but I hope you got the vibe, or the ‘mabo’ of what I am putting across. Think for yourself, disconnect from the matrix and go focus on what actually matters to you and your life. Have fun and don’t worry what the nay sayers and ‘chicken little’ reporters are saying (about the sky falling in).
If you want a little laugh, go back and read some of the top news headlines over the past 100 years – you’ll see the media crowing about the end of the world at least every year or so. As far as I know, we are still continuing to exist, the earth still orbits the sun, it rises in the morning and taxes are still due every payday!