The news industry is society’s appendix — permanently inflamed and completely pointless. You’re better off simply having it removed.

— Rolf Dobelli, Stop Reading the News: A Manifesto for a Happier, Calmer and Wiser Life

Dobelli repeats this core insight with various embellishments over the course of 35 brief and amusing chapters. Most news is useless at best and actively misleading at worst. Most of us, as individuals, are in no position to act meaningfully on what we consume through media. Just take this year as an example — how much of the news about the coronavirus has made you any better informed? Wash your hands frequently, wear masks, and practice common-sense social distancing while we wait for a vaccine — has anything you’ve read since March changed this basic understanding? How many studies later turned out to be false or misleading? How many times has “the science” changed its irresolute mind on whether this or that policy is safe or harmful? (And let’s not forget the unforgivable conduct of journalists and public-health officials who destroyed all their credibility by shamelessly playing partisan political games with a pandemic.) The point is not that anyone could or should have been correct from the beginning; the point is that keeping abreast of every breaking rumor or newsflash did absolutely nothing to benefit your life. You would have been better off just tuning it all out and avoiding the stress.

And that’s regarding a pandemic, a rare and genuine emergency. What good does it do to pay attention to all the other effluvia floating by in your news feed?