The Impact of News Consumption on Your Financial Well-Being

In this week’s episode of Retire in Texas, Darryl Lyons, CEO and co-founder of PAX Financial Group, dives into the effects of news consumption on our mental and financial health. Through insightful analysis and personal experiences, Darryl challenges listeners to reconsider their relationship with news and social media.

Today’s show highlights include:

*The dangers of over-consuming news and social media, comparing them to addictive substances.

*The concept of “information vs. wisdom” and how our society suffers more from a lack of wisdom than a lack of information.

*Key insights from Rolf Dobelli, who shares 15 reasons why news is dangerous and offers practical advice on how to detox from it.

*The impact of news on cognitive errors, concentration, and overall well-being.

*Tips for reducing news consumption and focusing on more meaningful and productive activities.

Tune in to learn how cutting down on news and social media can lead to a more focused, less anxious, and more fulfilling life. If you enjoyed today’s episode, make sure to leave a comment and share the show with a friend!


Hey, this is Darryl Lyons, CEO and co-founder of PAX Financial Group. And thanks for tuning in to Retire in Texas. This information is general in-nature. It’s not intended to provide specific investment, tax, or legal advice. Visit PAXFinancialGroup.com for more information.

And also, visit the website, there’s some good eBooks on there to continue to educate yourself on various facets of the industry. There’s one on Biblical Responsible Investing you might find interesting as we continue to navigate in that general investment arena. It’s constantly changing. And it’s actually a fascinating subject for us here at PAX – something that we talk about all the time. 

So, with all that being said, I really want to talk about news. And I was thinking deeply about how we, how I, digest information. Like, I’m a little bit of a news junkie, and that’s a problem.

Like, I’m, you know, that Jim Cramer guy on CNBC. He’s on a lot at my house. My wife knows him. My kids know him. Not that I, you know, not that I think he’s, you know, he has a crystal ball, but he just, he’s has a lot of information. I don’t know how the guy does it frankly. 

You know, I consume the Wall Street Journal. Bloomberg, I like Bloomberg. It leans left, no matter what you might think. Fox News, I read Fox News, leans right. Epoch Times. I think there’s some interesting, very interesting topics on there. 

And then I get, like, custom commentary. Maybe, I mean, and I’m not kidding. It’s got to be at least 100 articles a day. Hit my mailbox at least. So, I’m consuming this information because I really want to be helpful. And, but I was thinking about, like, how could I do it differently? Because we don’t have, in our society, none of us have a lack of information. That’s not our problem.

We have a lack of wisdom. And so, I have to ask myself, “Does the community expect from me and from PAX more information or wisdom? Are they mutually exclusive? Is there a certain point in which digesting information becomes futile?” Kind of like a, like a law of diminishing returns on consumptions. 

And I ask myself, “Are there tradeoffs?” Like, could I be doing something differently than just consuming factoids. So, there’s a little like a little snippet of my brain, kind of how I think about these things. 

So, in an effort to find better ways to come across, like to consume news, I ran across an article that I wanted to share with you from a guy named Rolf Dobelli. And he’s an entrepreneur, and he’s an author, and he went without news for a year.

So, I thought, okay, well, I want to, I want to read about his experience here. He said it was worth it. He said there was less disruption, more time, less anxiety, deeper thinking, and more insights. Okay. I think we could all enjoy less disruption, more time, less anxiety, deeper thinking, more insights. So, he came, he developed this article and I thought it was good. His 15 reasons why he thinks news is dangerous. And then his recommendations at the very end – which I’ll share with you, are worth reading, nearly verbatim. 

Now, when I say news. I’d like for you to also substitute that with Facebook or social media. Because I’ve read that through this article several times. They are nearly synonymous, and they have the same effects.

News and social media are like, they’re like double stuffed Oreos. In fact, news, social media, and double stuffed Oreos, they all activate neurons in your brain in the same way that cocaine does. Very addictive. 

And so, let’s jump into these 15 insights. 

Number one, according to Rolf, news misleads. 

Now, I don’t have to tell you that, you know that. Terrorism, according to news, is a really big deal, but it’s really, generally speaking, overrated, whereas chronic stress is underrated.

Market crashes are way overrated, but investing discipline is way underrated. Astronauts are overrated, whereas nurses are underrated. Airplane crashes are way overrated, but driving tipsy, way underrated. 

So, in our head, the reason it misleads, is because we miss a sign. Probabilities. And that ultimately affects how we make decisions. 

Number two, news is irrelevant. 

Question, how many news stories have you read in the past 12 months? I have to ask myself this as well. That actually resulted in a better decision for you or your family, for your business, for our career. So, we consume information. That’s new, but not necessarily relevant to us. 

Number three, news limits understanding. 

If you really want to understand something, we need to go deep. We need to read journals, books. News/social media. They only give us little factoids. They only give us a little double stuffed Oreos. 

Number four, news is toxic to your body. 

It actually, and we know this, it releases cortisol. Meaning, it makes our shoulders tight, chronic stress, and, you know, frankly, I think it just makes some of us mean. I really do. I think maybe, maybe we should just turn off the news for a little while so we can be nice again.

Number five, news massively increases cognitive errors. 

And so we are subject to confirmation bias. Me included. In fact, that’s the biggest challenge for me because I’ve been doing this 20 years and consuming news. I often can have overconfidence that I’m not subject to these biases, that I can overcome them, but I keep looking at academic research and I’m not immune.

So, we, we have this theory in this thesis, and then we search for additional content to support our thesis. And then we lean back in the chair and say, “I knew it.” And then we take stupid risks and misjudge opportunities. 

Number six, news inhibits our thinking. 

So, thinking, you know this, we know this, requires concentration. But check this out.

Listen closely. Over the last 20 years, the average time a person can focus on one thing has dropped from 2.5 minutes to 45 seconds. News or social media is the concentration thief.

Number seven, news changes the structure of our brains. 

Have you noticed that it’s, it’s getting harder just to get through a few pages of a book. I had somebody tell me the other day that, “Hey, I’m, I’m making progress on your book, but I can only concentrate on a few pages.” I mean, admittedly, right. And it dawned on me that that’s not uncommon. That’s why I wrote that last book very short. Because I know it’s hard for people to digest books today. 

It changes this, this news – how we get news changes the structure of our brain. That’s called neuroplasticity, and we’re basically training our brains not to concentrate.

Number eight, news is costly. 

Like if you see me sometime and I have a blank stare, I apologize. I really, you know, I work on that, but it’s because maybe I’m thinking – and I’ve actually, I think I’ve made a lot of progress over the last ten years. I had somebody tell me that the other day. But it’s because I might be thinking about something I read in the news. It could be hours ago that just, it’s just, I’m just wrestling with it in my head. And so, what’s the price of that? It’s the price that somebody in front of me is not getting my full attention.

Number nine, news confuses the difference between reputation and achievement. 

So just the other day, I was watching a documentary on the University of Texas running back, Ricky Williams. In my mind, because of the news – now, he was an incredible running back. If those that don’t know he won the Heisman Trophy, He was ridiculous. One of the greatest I’ve seen. But in my mind, because of the news, he was a major pothead. And you know, there was obviously some truth to that. But the achievement, what I didn’t know is that this man has tackled some serious social anxiety issues and really has a sincere heart to serve. I just, I wonder how many heroes are overlooked because of Taylor Swift. 

Number ten, news is produced by journalists.

Now, I love my journalist friends, but keep in mind that they are Googling and YouTubing information also. 

Number 11, facts are sometimes wrong. 

There’s a, there’s an old saying – and by the way, forecasts are always wrong. So, the old saying is this, “Economists have successfully predicted nine out of the past five recessions.”

Number 12, news is manipulative. 

We all know this. Did the Border Patrol agent really whip that immigrant? Did Nicholas Sandmann actually belittled the indigenous person? Did Jesse Smollett actually get assaulted? I mean, it’s unbelievable. I just actually heard that a congressman manufactured racist emails, himself. Himself. Just to get it in the news. And the news will run with it as though it’s truth. And we buy it, and then we go back and trust him again. It’s unbelievable. 

Number 13, news makes us passive. 

A better way to say it is that, almost fatalistic, that how the world’s going to hell. And this can lead to depression, but, but we’re called to a simple task, love God and love our neighbor. 

Number 14, news gives us the illusion of actually caring. 

Just because we’re mad really doesn’t mean that we care. And if I were to look at your calendar, and if I were to look at your wallet, I’d actually know if you cared. 

And number 15, finally, news kills creativity. 

And this quote from Rolf was very interesting and a challenging one. He said, “I don’t know a single creative mind who is a news junkie.” 

So, as I digest this, I’m actually looking in the mirror quite a bit and reflecting on how I can digest information, because I do have a responsibility to disseminate information. So, I understand my role is quite different than a lot of people’s, but I think this was good content for all of us to just be reflective of how we digest news and social media. And I’m going to leave you with some of what Rolf said as takeaways. And he, this is going to be nearly verbatim in the way I articulate his “what to do instead” commentary. 

So, what to do instead? “Go without news. Cut it out completely. Go cold turkey.” Rolf goes on to say, “The first week will be the hardest. Deciding not to check the news while you’re thinking, writing or reading.” That takes discipline. “You’re fighting your brain’s built-in tendency. Initially, you will feel out of touch or even socially isolated. Every day you will be tempted to check your favorite news website or social media or app. Stick to the cold-turkey plan. Go 30 days without news and after 30 days, you will have a more relaxed attitude towards the news. You will find that you will have more time, more concentration and a better understanding of the world.”

Are you afraid that living a news free, social media free existence will make you an outcast? You might not know that Lindsay Lohan went to jail, but you will have more intelligent facts to share, maybe about the cultural meaning of food, you’re eating or discovery of planets. And by the way, never be shy about discussing your news diet. People will be fascinated. 

So, there you go. I hope that helps you today. Kind of reframe, especially as we go into this election year. I think these 15 points are very salient coming into this time of the year, where we can be in a preemptive strike against the media and the news that are going to be aggressively getting in front of us and trying to steal not only our time and our concentration, but what we’re really called to do, which is to love God and to love our neighbor. And remember, you think different when you think long term. Have a great day.



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