Friday, April 28

Without words

The origin of the phrase "No news is good news" can be traced back to 1616 and King James I. The bloke may have casually looked into a crystal ball, seen today's media malaise and Twitter madness and calmly prognosticated his advice, which I heartily subscribe to.

Why did I sign up for Twitter in 2011? A shamefully weak need to conform I suspect. I do not have a FB account, have disabled all of Google's social tentacles and felt the need to keep up with the happenings of the day. What it certainly wasn't for was the present's endless barrage of rumour-mongering, desperate embellishment of minor incidents, opinions and worst of all, opinions on opinions that plague and spread faster than viruses through the third world. 

And lest we forget, open letters, that vile class of 'content' that stands alone in its pretentious horror.

I vented my frustration at this state of affairs to a wise friend who has patience aplenty. He laughed gently and suggested I curate my Twitter feed better. I took his advice and failed miserably, simply because some of the allegedly well-meaning people I 'follow' simply don't know when to call it a day. I'll see an article they've written or retweeted and click on said link. It will be followed by a putrid torrent of similar pieces, every one of them separated by some barely minuscule differences and accompanied by the same fucking hashtag, lord help us! Yes, I read, understood and respect your position on a matter, your philosophy on the government, every avatar of '...archy', life, the universe and everything else. Is there any need to keep dancing gleefully on the corpse of your viewpoint until the end of the world?

Being rather cerebrally challenged, eons passed before I cottoned on to the fact that this cycle of content was making me anxious. Be it news or opinions, it seemed I could not swim, only sink rapidly into the internet morass. It was so addictive, it became part of my morning ritual to sign into Twitter and check in once an hour throughout the day.

I feel like most platforms are bubbles that usually only serve to reinforce one's cognitive biases. And what passes for news is manufactured controversy. A singer makes a comment about prayers, a girl says something about war, an actor discusses his worry or a politician points out how horrible economy class flights are and fin. That's all the media, trolls and other content churners need to distract all & sundry, sucking everyone into a whirlpool of commentary and outrage. Heck, even serious issues such as a Machiavellian universal ID system become noise when the well-intentioned keep squawking about it every hour of every day. Get a hobby, you guys.

This 2-week hiatus from normal life (what a tragedy life has become) has allowed me to experiment with staying off Twitter and away from any news. Completely. And you know what? I haven't missed out on anything. No friend or family member has peered at me, aghast that I have no knowledge of some fresh or stale perfidy or foolishness. And my anxiety is reducing. If anything, I am now determined to keep this state of grace going as long as possible, even after the customary Murine jog-trot commences in a week's time.

I reckon Thomas Gray wasn't too far off the mark in 1742 when he said "Ignorance is bliss".

Song for the moment: Gossip in the Grain - Ray Lamontagne

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