Tuesday, 14 April 2015

No News Week: The Womankind Challenge


Back in February Womankind magazine put out a challenge. Have a week with no news. Write about it and send it in for a chance to have your story published. I had the week without news. I even wrote about it. Before promptly forgetting to send it into the magazine. In the process of cleaning up my cluttered desk top I found it again, two months late. So here it is my experience of a week with no news. 



I wake each day as our neighbour's growling four-wheel drive reverses past our headboard and out into the street. Thin walls and a driveway less than a metre from our bedroom negating any need for an alarm clock. I turn my head and reach for my phone. The routine ingrained. But not today. Today I pause. No news. The parameters are clear. The challenge accepted. And already I am chaffing at the bit. My fingers hover over my phone aching. But one click and there it'll be. The weather forecast on the screen. The light flashing to let me know of messages and alerts from Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Social media my all to willing dealer feeding my news addiction. Politics, asylum seekers, disability advocacy and health reform, women’s issues, I follow it all and I follow it ravenously. Cold turkey is not an appetising option. But how to avoid news not just for the day but the week?

News filters into every aspect of life. The Borg were right, resistance is futile, at least if you interact with the world. I can refuse to click on my phone or open my laptop. I can turn off the television, and car radio. But head to a public space and all bets are off. Radios play in the shops and boards sit out front of the local news agency holding headlines from the major news outlets. Glossy magazines glare at me at the checkout and flat screens play overhead. Even in coffee shops wisps of news flow from conversations at surrounding tables. Short of becoming a hermit it is near impossible to avoid.

I recall as a child the hourly news on the radio, the daily newspaper and the nightly news. Now a 24 hour news cycle and rabid adoption of devices and a need to know, make the news part and parcel of life. A constant whir in the background even when you're not consciously attending.

There's a pressing feeling of being out of touch. Of missing out. I pride myself on being up to date on major issues both here and abroad. I discuss international politics with my children and watch news documentaries as a family. To not have that link. To feel out of place. Out of line with the rest of the world. Of time moving on and falling behind. Twitching fingers and twitching mind. Used to being fed continuously. Instant gratification available at the tap of my thumb.

Silence. A week on, no news means silence. But the silence is not without noise. Instead of the noise of multiple lines of information, it is the noise of the bird song and breeze. The turn of a page as it scrapes against my jeans. The soft snuffle of my dog tangled around my feet. St Louis Blues coming from the lounge and the tap of the keyboard as I write without interruption.

Clarity with the silence. A rejection of news and technology for a less cluttered mind. A welcomed tradeoff that I had underestimated. Half-way through I realised I wasn't missing the news. I wasn't missing the noise. Once the restless agitation of cold turkey had passed I felt the calm. News is so much bad. Pain and horror. Disappointment at the political discourse and a sense of hopelessness at the tone of the world at large. The meaninglessness of celebrity, dross that fills the airwaves. The good works and silent struggles forgotten in favour of the sensationalism and repetition. Not putting my feet in that foetid pool is quite good for the soul. My family interrupted my embargo to tell me of the passing of Leonard Nemoy. Spock no more. But it was the only news I consumed in the seven days.

The world meanders on changing little over the week. When the screens are lifted and I emerge once more into the world of news the same conversations continue. The rhetoric of the politicians the same. The evening news follows the same patterns. The stream of Twitter continues as outrage mixed with unoriginal memes. The lives of friends mattered but the news as it is presented online and in print are seen with a level of clarity. Step back. Be more discerning. Turn it off and listen to the bird song more.

Michelle

2 comments:

  1. Lovely post. And something everyone needs to do. Especially those of us with chronic illnesses. Thanks so much for the needed reminder.

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  2. I really enjoyed that post. Thank you Michelle. I just don't watch the news anymore. And I record the shows I want to watch and fast forward through the rubbish-adverts. I don't listen to the news. As well as the physical ill health I have been dealing with depression a long, long time. And for many months now, that depression has dipped deeper. Like you, I do enjoy a documentary. Simething that really informs me. And gives me something to talk about.

    Thanks again for the time you take writing your wonderful website. It's so good to be able to feel connected to someone who writes about problems similar to mine. Blue
    .

    And birdsong is surely more comforting and maybe even, just a little bit, healing in an emotional way. We really do need more nature in our lives especially me, who lives a very closed in existence in an urban environment. I read an article somewhere that recommends that if you can't get out much you should listen to the sounds of nature -- recorded if you have too. Apparently too many people are completely cut off from natural surroundings and it's just bad for the body and soul.

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All who are lovely enough to comment should be showered with cup cakes, glitter and macarons. I promise to use my spoon bending mind powers to try and get that happening for all who are lovely enough to share their words. Those who go the extra step to share posts should really get a free unicorn. Or at least the gift of finding the shortest and quickest line at the supermarket on a regular basis. xx