Don't read this story! (You may have news overload)


Rolf Dobelli gets a frosty reception from most journalists and when I call him at his home in Bern late one night (AEST), the bestselling economic philosopher sounds more than a little hesitant.

The conversation is stilted as he cautiously explains his ideas while at the same time trying not to insult me.

That’s OK though, I understand.

It’s a difficult tightrope walk for Dobelli. After all, he’s just published Stop Reading the News, a guide to giving up your daily dose of news, a move that, if generally taken up, would put me out of a job.

It’s a book which patiently deconstructs the news cycle and draws numerous negative conclusions, including that there is too much news and that it is bad for your health, your brain and your happiness.$zoom_0.53%2C$multiply_0.8687%2C$ratio_1.776846%2C$width_1059%2C$x_0%2C$y_0/t_crop_custom/e_sharpen:25%2Cq_42%2Cf_auto/d2b9cea69cbada5090136eb9c31dd264df082571
If news is important enough “it will reach you through other sources, word of mouth”, Dobelli says. AP

“There was always something wrong with ‘the news’, it confuses news with relevance,” he says. “News is in the business of selling what it produces as relevant to people, which is rarely the case.

“The amount of time people spend reading the news in all western countries is 60-90 minutes a day, which over a year is about a month’s worth of your life (It’s actually 15 days, but I assume he’s talking about ‘awake time’ so I don’t quibble). With the internet it became very easy to produce news and to copy news, so you end up surfing through huge amounts of little news stories.

“If you want to really have more time, just cut out the news.”

As with social media, readers get a feel-good dopamine hit from staying abreast of breaking news, imbuing them with a false sense that consuming more and more makes them smarter and better informed. Studies, he points out, show this not to be the case. Dobelli says readers instead should devour detailed, subject-specific texts if they want to retain knowledge.