I am taking my mind back into the ‘real’ world after an extended break from listening to news. I was a bit of a BBC Radio4 addict, especially their news shows, but at some point earlier this year it all started to feel too much, I decided half an hour a day of news was enough, ironically not even focussing on it, it’s in the background when I write this. I opted out of being informed and thinking about it all.
My opting out was from radio news; I don’t read papers any more, I tell myself I have no time. That’s blatantly not true, I spend plenty of time on Facebook and Instagram that could be spent reading a paper, but I am having a continued battle with the wisdom of how I spend my time. I don’t watch TV news, so I have no idea of how it works, but I suspect it would be similar to the radio.
I discovered one of the reasons that I am struggling with news this week. It was during a church meeting when we were discussing the issue of explaining to parishioners the conflict resolution work by the church in Colombia. Several people said that this would be too complicated to explain, we cannot condense the work and the issues into a short announcement in the bulletin, nor a one minute talk at the end of mass.
The penny dropped. We are all trying to condense the problems and the solutions into a soundbite, into a short sentence, a tweet, a Facebook post, an Instagram pic. I know, this is not new news folks, people have been saying it for years. But it is making me feel personally anxious for the first time ever. I don’t know what the answers are any more, because I can’t get the information. I don’t spend time focussing on reading about an issue, anything longer than a TED talk – and I cannot even admit to how many TED talks are on my ‘oh that would be interesting, I will watch that later’ list. – is too much for me now. My brain has been trained to hear soundbites and muse on them. There is rarely a black and white, all or nothing solution to anything.
To go back to the conflict resolution – that sort of work takes time, it takes listening, it takes learning about people and their views and hearing why they hold those views. My understanding of an issue and my ability to do something about it, can only happen if people give me the gift of information and time to hear it. It’s not about who is the best orator or who has the best slogan – that is propaganda.
I suspect reading papers or periodicals would help. Any suggestions?