During college I did something that I wish I had the will to do today - I did not follow any of the news. Any of it. When a classmate told me that the World Trade Center buildings had been hit, I assumed it was eco-terrorists. When he said, "Bin Laden," I had no response. I didn't know whom Bin Laden was. When a girl told me I looked sort of like George W. Bush, I felt nothing. "Who's that?"
People were shocked. How could I not follow current events? Yet when I asked these people about Aristotle, their brains were blank pieces of paper.
Back then I did not study the news: I studied knowledge. There is a difference.
The "news" is simply a collection of transitory events that corporations and government want us to pay attention to. Did you know that the Ground Zero Mosque isn't really a mosque? It's a large community center - basically a YMCA for Muslims. It's also several city blocks (have you been to New York?) away from Ground Zero. Most Americans would have to drive from Ground Zero to the community center.
The truth about the Ground Zero Mosque is boring. Who cares? Knowing the truth would lead to a decrease in ratings. Thus, the media must ensure that you care. You must care today, because ads must be shown today. You must care tomorrow, because tomorrow ads must be shown.
And so news is manufactured. And yet even legitimate stories have the same thing in common - people. And themes. People don't change, only cultural issues. Fifty years ago Negroes and whites couldn't interbreed. Today homosexuals can't marry. Black and gay are the same - both are different from the moral majority. Yet a person who understands Jim Crow understands Prop. 8.
Once a person mastered knowledge, he has mastered the news. He can predict the news.
Let's look at, for example, the Iraq War. How did I know this would be a boondoggle? Simple. I understood that America is a corporatacy, as it has been since General Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against the military-industrial complex.
If you understand that Vietnam-style wars are profitable, then you can predict that the War in Iraq would be long, drawn-out, and aimless. Why? Because the best way to profit from a war is to continue fighting the war.
You simply need not read newspapers or listen to analysts describe the goals and objectives of the invasion. You already know how the war will be waged. You know the end before it begins.
Moreover, if you understand that society is run by a group of elites who conspire with each other to enrich each other, then you understand that even good-faith government action will fail. The elite are not the most talented. They are not, as the famous 1972 book brilliantly explains, the best and the brightest. They are, like George W. Bush, morons who'd be bankrupt had they not been born into the right families.
The elite do not select for talent, or even for ideological agreement. They select for power and status.
Who is Rush Limbaugh more likely to invite to his fourth wedding - a notorious-but-rich homosexual, or you? Limbaugh paid Elton John $1 million to attend Limbaugh's wedding.
Yet people Limbaugh would have security escort from him home, believe that "Rush is right," and that Bill O'Reilly is "looking out for you."
These people are not your friends. They do not care about you. They govern and pontificate to enrich their friends and expand their own wallets.
That has how it has always been.
Do you really think the Civil War was about "state's rights"? The bumble-fuck bullet catchers who could never afford slaves may have believed it. But they were just catching bullets for the rich slave owners. The bullet catchers were sold a lie to enrich a oligopoly.
Today's newspaper lines tomorrow's bird case. Knowledge will last your entire life - and unlike the news, will create new and deeper associations.
If a person tuned out from the news for a month, instead reading books that have survived for over 100 years, the person would never need to watch another news program again. The tune remain the same, even if the words change.