It’s October. A month of moving into the slow, huddled chill of the impending winter months. A month of big meals and trick-or-treats. A month of big excuses, hiding out indoors, and watching the impending season of sloth creep back. In retaliation, I present Hacktoberfest, where the duty of all struggling fit-o-philes falls to pushing back the autumn slump and hacking their mind, bodies, and souls into better beings. Hack on, my dear readers. And read along each day as I do the same.
I like reading the news. In fact, I would say if one thing my life is definitely not lacking it is access to thoughtful and insightful news from a wide variety of sources. Some of it is curated from lists that I maintain. Other bits come from news sites or aggregators the I frequent. Other times I’ll visit links posted on social media. And I have a list of friends who will often send me emails or messages with links to articles they have found.
The Problem: Feeling a little bit overwhelmed by new media.
The Hack: Changing the way I consume news once per week by cutting out the internet and replacing it with a paper newspaper.
The Hypothesis: Reading a newspaper will be a more meditative and mindful act than dealing with the digital fire-hose of online journalism.
Hack Duration: Rest of 2015.
I read a lot.
And I don’t mean to vilify the internet or the web as a delivery tool for information.
But in a desperate attempt to keep the news relevant to a generation that demands to have a voice in everything –EVERYTHING!– most news outlets & aggregators (social channels get this for free) have opted to activate a feature in the delivery of news that has a dark side: commenting.
I usually read news and then, without even thinking about it, like I’m reacting to a loud noise in a quiet room, my eyes go right to the comments. And almost always, without fail, they are vile, hateful, trolling fountains of ignorant babble. People with narrowly focused agendas and far too much time on their hands have usurped the social layer of our news. If there was a balance to be found from the ninety-nine percent of readers who are likely more rational but less vocal, then perhaps news comments wouldn’t be so broken. But they are. And it makes my blood warm a few degrees. On a bad day, that can set it to boiling.
I’ll probably read news on the internet for the rest of my life, but to be honest I am feeling a little bit overwhelmed by this new media sometimes. Me overwhelmed equates to me stressed. And me stressed equates to my willpower when it comes to positive food choices, healthy activities, and proper sleeping… well, failing.
Thus, hack number two of this hacktoberfest season: Lisez le Journal Hackable, wherein once per week I will replace my online news consumption with an actual, physical newspaper. Read, preferably, with a cup of coffee in a comfortable chair. I may even do the crossword.
To facilitate this –and on a side note– I’ve been attempting to do an online signup for weekend delivery of The Globe and Mail. Key word: attempting…. and failing. If newspapers ever hope to compete with online journalism, they’d better fix the process of subscribing from a web interface: broken servers, cryptic errors, and flat-out weirdness. And I’m not calling: this is now my quixotic quest… and I don’t like high pressure up-sells over the phone.
Even if I need to drive to the local convenience store, I’ll read some papers and I’ll report back soon. Ideally, I’ll have a nice relaxing newspaper read… and I won’t need to deal with the trolls for at least one day.