Dont read the news.
That might sound strange coming from a newspaper columnist, but I say it because not reading the news might make you a better person.
We live in the age of information overload. You can find out what hundreds of friends who arent really your friends are doing tonight on Facebook. You can find out what Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is on Wikipedia. You can argue who is a better voice actor for Sonic the Hedgehog on YouTube.
But its not just the Internet that lets you twiddle away your time with trite nonsense. All media is generally useless, including the news. The responsibility of the informed citizen is a farce.
Think about some of the top items of the presidential campaign: Joe the Plumber, Sarah Palins winks, hope,change and Bill Ayers. Did any of those items contribute to your relevant knowledge of the candidates? The media is content tossing aside issues such as tax plans in favor of trivia such as whether a certain plumber is actually licensed.
Joe the Plumber may have been more entertaining to the medias audience, but four weeks after his original question to Barack Obama, do you feel the time you spent learning about him justifies what little enjoyment he brought you?
Its not just that the media ignores the issues they have to ignore the issues, because everyone already knows the issues when the campaign has been going on for two years but even knowing the issues isnt going to help you or your country very much.
The candidates tax plans were clear: one would raise taxes on the rich, the other would lower everyones taxes. Now it is just up to you to decide which policy you favor.
There are only two choices, so you dont even have to have a reason to pick one candidate. Fifty percent of the voters have a good enough reason to each, and 50 percent of the political elites will pick each of them as well.
It doesnt take a whole lot of time to figure out which candidate you support; after that, you can spend the rest of your life doing something more productive instead of listening to the two candidates lie on the nightly news.
Romanticized political philosophy holds that if you follow this path, you are an unpatriotic bum. But you need not feel like a bum. Albert Einstein didnt. He said, Reading, after a certain age, diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Without the media to distract him, Einstein sure got a lot done.
Even if your aspirations arent as high as Einsteins, you can still withdraw from the media just to pursue a life of greater enjoyment.
Last summer, I withdrew from the media and went on a three week backpacking trip through Olympic National Park. I met people, saw amazing sights and didnt have any worries.
Then I came back, and the world was just as I left it despite 21 days of unread newspapers. Did I miss anything? Only false anxiety and overblown hype.