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Prepent 5774: Day 23, Unsubscribing

The fast-paced online news cycle can be addictive, but it’s also draining

Amichai Lau-Lavie
August 30, 2013
(Tablet Magazine.)
(Tablet Magazine.)

Journey into the High Holidays with Amichai Lau-Lavie, founder of Storahtelling and the spiritual leader of Lab/Shul. It’s a daily dose of inspiration to get you focused and ready for the new year, featuring daily intentions, simple tasks, and tools for living better.

Face your feed: are you getting the news you need?

Are those war drums in the distance? Friends started calling and writing me yesterday, worried about my family in Israel. Deep in the rehearsal studio in preparation for a High Holidays musical marathon, I had no clue that international tensions were escalating The only drums I could here were the Middle Eastern beats remixing “Avinu Malkeinu.”

But after the third message I took a break to go online and check the news. ‘Don’t check CNN,’ one of the musicians said. ‘Try BBC, they’re more objective.’ That statement, naturally, started a heated debate among the group.

Where do you get your news? How often do you check back for updates? Is your news source reliable? Objective? Helpful? Do the news agencies you follow along with nourish your soul or fuel your fury? It’s easy to stay fixed in our views and not be open to other perspectives, but it’s also surprisingly easy to get confused and overwhelmed by the wide range of news options.

Prepent Day 23: Take some time to think about what you allow into your body, mind, and soul.

I grew up in Israel, where we obsessively followed the news, war drums or not. Haaretz arrived at my parents’ house every morning. This week they moved into a new apartment and the first image my brother posted online was a picture of the daily newspaper on its new threshold. There’s no better symbol of continuity (never mind that my father stopped reading it years ago). Loyal to tradition myself, I log on to Haaretz’s website daily to check what’s new.

Throughout the day I get news updates from no fewer than seven news agencies, and that’s not counting my Facebook feed. It’s too much.

Today’s task: Choose. Unsubscribe. Pick a reasonable amount of news to consume daily.

As Shabbat descends this evening, the last of this year, put down the phone, take your fingers off the keyboard, and maybe even fold up the newspaper. The news you need to hear will make its way to you. Take the time to unplug, refresh, and pray for peace.

Shabbat Shalom.

Follow along with the Scroll’s daily Prepent series here.

Amichai Lau-Lavie is the founder of Storahtelling, and the spiritual leader of Lab/Shul, an emerging New York City congregation.