I’ve come to realize that news serves my life almost no value, while knowledge provides my life with immense value.
With this realization in mind, I developed an important motto:
Knowledge over news.
I’ve spent a lot of time this month going over some high-level concepts with incredible depth, so I’m going to keep this particular post brief.
While this will be short, it doesn’t make this concept unimportant.
It’s just that I believe the gist of this can be captured with brevity.
Let’s dig in…
We all know what news is.
That 24/7 cycle that seems to be driving Americans crazy.
I never bought into it. I canceled cable television years ago, and I haven’t watched much TV since. It never struck me as a good idea to get sucked into that vortex.
Moving abroad, though, has greatly helped me in my quest to “ignore the noise”.
Even without cable TV in the States, I felt like a lot of news was kind of forced down my throat. It’s hard to totally escape it.
But since most of the channels on my TV over here in Thailand are in Thai, I’m blissfully ignorant of most news. I do have access to Western news channels, if I were so inclined to get that fix, but I don’t turn them on.
There are two main points about news you need to understand:
- News provides almost no actionable value for your life.
- News rapidly depreciates to zero.
That’s right. It’s shocking, but it’s true.
Finding out what Celebrity X said about Celebrity Y will provide your life with no actionable value. There’s nothing worthwhile you can do with this information.
Likewise, the same can be said about any other piece of news information.
Politician John Doe went and said blah blah about this and that. Someone located across your city is upset about some new construction. An actor was arrested for driving while under the influence. Somebody’s Facebook update states they’re now in a relationship. The stock market is up/down today by X%.
None of it matters!
None of it will change your day-to-day life at all. There’s no actionable value in any of this.
Meanwhile, this news depreciates to zero extremely rapidly.
I mean, this is why there’s a 24/7 news cycle in the first place. If whatever happened on Monday morning still had relevance on Wednesday afternoon, there wouldn’t be a reason to have a news broadcast on Wednesday afternoon.
Unfortunately, there’s almost no value to news the second after you hear about it.
It makes a new car’s depreciation pretty tame by comparison. At least you can still drive the car around. News, however, won’t get you anywhere.
Now let’s compare news to knowledge.
Per Oxford Dictionaries knowledge is defined as the following:
Facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.
Your knowledge is the sum of everything you know.
What’s been great about avoiding news over the last ten years is that I’ve been able to apply far more of my finite resources toward the gathering of knowledge. This has had an immensely positive impact on my life.
And this spread in resources dedicated toward knowledge over news has only widened since moving abroad, which has resulted in an ability to live my best life and become the best financial, physical, and mental version of myself.
There are two main points about knowledge you need to understand:
- Knowledge provides actionable value for your life.
- Knowledge appreciates over time.
These dynamics are in complete opposition to news.
Without knowledge, you’re paralyzed when it comes to taking action. It’s impossible to take action when you’re completely uninformed of the relevant facts.
Investing is a perfect example of this.
News about a snowstorm in Minnesota won’t help me invest. Actually, that won’t help me do anything.
But the knowledge I gain by learning, say, how financial statements work is immensely valuable and actionable toward knowing how to analyze and value businesses.
And that knowledge has also greatly helped me manage my own finances, since we’re all essentially the CFOs of our own lives. I’m able to, for instance, maintain a fortress balance sheet in my life because I know what a balance sheet is, how important it is, and what a great balance sheet looks like. Without this knowledge, I’m almost helpless as it pertains to this particular subject.
I couldn’t have built my FIRE Fund without knowledge. Indeed, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve FIRE without knowledge.
I’m able to take action in my life – across so many different aspects of my life – precisely because of my base of knowledge across many different disciplines.
Knowledge Over News
With this knowledge (see what I did there?) in mind, it’s important to almost always choose knowledge over news. Unless there’s some kind of world-changing event actively occurring, news should be universally avoided.
The reasons should be clear here.
While paying attention to social media and whatever is going on with politics might seem tempting, the reality is that you only have so many resources.
Your time, focus, and energy are all limited. The more of these resources you dedicate toward news, the less you’ll naturally have left over to dedicate toward knowledge. And your life will suffer – or at the very least, you’ll be less equipped and knowledgeable to chase after your goals in life.
Not only does knowledge appreciate, but it also compounds.
Warren Buffett, when espousing the importance of reading to a group of students, once stated:
That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest.
I’ve personally found that one piece of new knowledge usually somehow aids an older piece of knowledge. Every new thing I learn tends to somehow give new, more profound insight to something older in my brain’s database of facts and information. They add value to each other. Information complements other information. And this appreciation and compounding effect is incredibly powerful when you’re able to take advantage of it.
I look at it like trees. Each larger piece of knowledge is like a giant tree that grows upward from seeds of curiosity. These trees eventually allow new seeds to fall and be planted, which give rise to new trees. Before you know it, you have an entire forest.
I spend multiple hours per day reading, watching, and adding to my base of knowledge. This is possible because I was able to retire in my early 30s, which in and of itself was possible because I was gaining and applying knowledge.
I haven’t paid any attention to news in almost a decade. If I were prioritizing news over knowledge all this time, I’d be willing to bet my bottom dollar I’d still be at my job.
With that, there’s a sense of accomplishment with knowledge.
Not only are there the actual goals that you’ll be able to go out and accomplish with knowledge, but there’s also a sense of ongoing progress with knowledge. You learn something new, check it off, and go on to learn something else new. You’re better off for it.
Meanwhile, news is a never-ending spew of nonsense that doesn’t seem to ever make any progress or have an end in sight. You’re never better off for it.
Lastly, news can be biased or faked. News can be and often is used to move an agenda forward.
Knowledge, on the other hand, is simply facts. The latter is far less likely to be slanted, and the latter can also help you discern between when the former is real and when it’s not.
I originally had a much longer article planned for this concept. I decided to cut a lot of it out because this is all fairly self-explanatory.
If you want to waste your time on social media and the 24/7 news cycle, be my guest. But I can guarantee you that it won’t serve you. That information depreciates to zero almost instantaneously.
If you instead decide to dedicate your limited resources toward building out your knowledge base, I can almost guarantee you that your life will be far better across the board because of it. You’ll find that knowledge provides you with an ability to be informed and take action, all while seeing these individual facts and slices of information appreciating and compounding over time. And you’ll feel like you’re progressing forward as a human being, which is instrumental to enjoying FIRE and being generally happy in life.
What do you think? Knowledge over news? Why or why not?
Thanks for reading.
Image courtesy of: digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
P.S. If you’re interested in building out your knowledge base, which could greatly help you achieve FIRE, check out some amazing resources I personally used on my way to retiring in my early 30s!