Is reading the news toxic?

"Additional knowledge of the minutiae of daily business can be useless, even actually toxic." -Nassim Taleb, The Black Swan
Oftentimes we think that by gathering more and more information that we become more knowledgeable and capable of living well and making good decisions, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

I guess this quote hinges on exactly what you define as "minutiae." If you're gathering important, high-level, non-minutiae information, then that could be a good thing.

Unless you're avoiding taking action.

What amuses me is the widely-accepted idea that somehow "being informed" about what's happening in the world makes us more equipped to handle the onslaught of events outside of our control. That because we know the latest news, we're more equipped to deal with the ever-present threat of a nuclear apocalypse.

Even on a micro level, being informed about what has happened in no way equips you to know what will happen in the future. One day, a change in legislation seems like a certainty. The next, the legislation has failed to pass, and no change has taken place. The next, it's back on the table. When will it end? Nobody knows.

Being tied to the ups and downs of the day-to-day minutiae is undoubtedly taxing and I would agree with Taleb: toxic.

Photo: (Mick Baker)rooster, via Flickr Creative Commons