Information Is Everywhere, As Proved By Trying To Avoid It

By Shawn Zuver,

Once upon a time, there was no written communication and the only way to exchange information was by word of mouth – and even before that, it was likely a system of hand and facial gestures, which I can only imagine led to a great deal of ambiguity and rampant misunderstanding. Fortunately, that pre-dates all of us by at least thousands and thousands of years. Or, is “fortunately” really the best word choice?

As someone who had to endure the incessant media barrage from the 2012 presidential election while living in the quintessential swing state of Ohio, there have been times when I’ve wondered if our long-ago ancestors may have been better off by not having to put up with today’s information overload. I’m not exaggerating a bit when I say that here in Ohio we were treated to an endless stream of political blather from all directions. I witnessed instances of five or more back-to-back television ads for the presidential election – sometimes placed within a show that was also about that same topic.

About a week before the 2012 votes were tallied, I decided that I’d had enough of the presidential election talk as well as the other stories of questionable newsworthiness, and gaggles of so-called experts, that make up the national media landscape today. Since that time, I haven’t turned on any national TV news broadcasts, cable news channels, or political-themed radio talk shows that feature the vast slate of political pundits.

Some of you may note a developing pattern when adding this shunning of national media to my attempts to drop printed publications, which I described early in 2013. As I learned, there is a common theme and it centers on the ability to get all the mainstream information that a person needs today in a relatively-passive manner.

Since shutting down my active pursuit of national news, I honestly don’t think I’ve missed anything important. And I’m able to say this because there are plenty of people who are more than eager to test what I do and don’t know. The general consensus is that while I may not be current on all of the political parties’ talking points, which celebrity has legal troubles this week, or the opinions of the countless talking heads (we all know those before they open their mouths anyhow), I’ve remained relatively-well informed. I’m not as plugged in as a cable news junkie, but I’m far from being a cast-away. And the reason for that is because of the many ways that the national news comes to us today.

Even while I’m avoiding the TV news and other outlets mentioned above, I still get an adequate dose of national news on the opening page of the general interest website that I use for the default location in my computer browsers. Headlines, and often details, crawl across the screen during sporting events that I watch on TV or online; and the same is becoming increasingly popular for non-sporting events (as seen during the recent Boston Marathon bombing and the explosion at the fertilizer plant in Texas). The local news radio broadcasts also cover a smattering of the important headlines among the area stories and weather reports. And, there’s no shortage of national news exposure through postings on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

Sure, I’ve missed out on countless hours of "in-depth analysis" during the past six months...such as endless speculation about what a hypothetical move by one politician or another may mean to a vote on a particular budget amendment that has absolutely no chance of ever becoming a law. And I’m also way behind in knowing the opinions of TV psychologists who offer "expert commentary" on the mental states of bombers and mass murderers whom they’ve never met. I’m willing to accept that lack of knowledge.

Still skeptical? Here’s my challenge. Don’t watch national news on TV, and stay away from the cable news channels and political media – you know ones that I’m talking about. And you can skip the remaining printed newspapers and news magazines completely. After a week if you find that you’re left behind, please accept my sincere apologies. If I’m correct, enjoy the extra time that’s added to your day.

Just to be clear, I’m only talking about national news. I still go online to seek out the types of news that are important to my everyday life – like local coverage, weather updates, and reports about the industries where I do business. Of course...ahem...this includes the industry-specific content like you’ll find here on, as well as in our weekly email newsletters and monthly ezines.

Shawn Zuver is editorial/content director for He has been covering the metal construction industry, including residential and non-residential construction, since 1985. To contact Shawn, email

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