One of the most contrarian beliefs I have is that most people should stop watching the news, following politics, and voting. Almost everyone believes that you should, and I don’t think enough people have questioned their reasoning behind it. It’s been such a widely and strongly held belief that no one has thought to question it. In fact, I think it can be quite detrimental. Here are my key reasons for not watching the news, following politics, or voting:
News is all negative
The news is full of reports of crime, violence, poverty and other awful things. It makes people scared and worried. It elicits negative thoughts. I don’t need or want those negative thoughts. I don’t need to know about another of the many murders that happen all the time, or the guy that got hit by a car crossing the street. It won’t help me. I like positive thoughts.
Lack of control
Our government is almost completely out of my control. It’s tough to think about the armchair-politicians that spend so much time complaining about politicians as if they know everything and could do a better job, but are really just spinning their wheels because nothing they say will have any impact. As much as people like to think they have in impact by protesting, petitioning, voting, etc., they really don’t. Not even the president has as much impact or control as some people seem to think.
Impact on my goals and personal happiness
“I will never care about who is president. Not a single politician has ever made me happier or sadder. So I don’t care about who is elected ever.” – James Altucher
I love this quote. Public policy and elected officials don’t have to have an impact on my day to day activities, mindset, or life if I don’t want them to.
Some people are good at politics
I’m not that good at it. It wouldn’t be beneficial to me or society, to spend my time thinking about politics. There are some people who are good at it and they should be participating in our political system. Surely there are people who are worse at politics than me and I don’t think it’s best for them to be actively participating either. I’m not saying democracy is a bad thing, I just don’t think it’s necessary for many, myself included, to be making policy decisions.
Almost everything in government is broken. Everyone knows the problems, so I’m not even going to cite them. It’s frustrating to watch, let alone participate in. Even the simple fact that you have to take off from work to go wait in line, sometimes for a really long time, to vote is just appalling. I worry our political system is never going to get any better.
It’s not fun for me
I know there are many people that actually enjoy analyzing and following politics. By all means, those people should knock their socks off and follow away. I personally do not get that enjoyment. So I don’t do it.
Life is too short
“I can either have a strong opinion (then I can argue(!), fight(!), sign petititons(!)). Or I can spend my time enjoying things.” “I don’t want to waste my time getting angry. Or arguing with people. Or trying to convince people they are wrong about their plans for me.” – James Altucher
One of the most common rebuttals I get to my beliefs is that it’s my “duty” to society to participate. Call me selfish, but I would rather spend my time on things that can help me achieve my goals than trying to change things that can’t be changed. In fact, I believe society will be better off I focus on what I’m better at and more passionate about.
Flawed voting system
If I’m in a swing state my vote doesn’t matter. If I vote for an alternative party that doesn’t get any electoral votes, my vote doesn’t matter. Adding to the number of people that don’t vote is as good as voting. Not voting might even have a positive impact on the problems in that people might be motivated to spend the shocking amounts of capital that gets spent on campaigns on better things if they realize it’s not having an impact.
I try my hardest to ignore politics completely because it only leads to negative thoughts and frustration. Instead of getting caught up in at all and even more frustrated, I’ve decided to focus on what makes me happy. I’m not trying to convert you, I’m just sharing my opinions. When beliefs are so commonly held and for such a long time, we can forget to question them. Think about how much you benefit from watching the news, following politics, and voting, and what else you could be doing with your time. You may find you’ll be happier and better off by not participating.