“Where have you hidden the darned radio?”
My in-laws are visiting from the USA and I just found Jo’s dad, a devotee of the 24-hour news cycle, rummaging in the bread bin desperate for his current affairs fix. Sorry, Carl, we haven’t hidden the radio, we’ve chucked it. And News is the reason.
It’s partly because the news has become less about what happened and more about pundits making up stories about what will (=may) happen. And usually unhelpful ones. See my new book.
And it’s partly about mental decluttering.
But mostly, it’s Putin.
We used to have radio news on in the background during breakfast. Occasionally Jo would turn to me and ask something like ‘did you hear about Putin?” That’s what she’d say. But what I’d hear is ‘what are you going to do about Putin?‘ Same for global warming, the war in Syria, the blatant unfairness of corporate pay, the gross glutting of London skyline with 500 new skyscrapers, orgies of immoral tax avoidance and the dispossession of the Orang Utang by the forest-raping, palm oil companies.
These feel like genuine attacks and somewhere inside me the protect-and-survive circuits of the Primal Male light up. My first tightens around my muesli spoon. It’s time to DO something. Starting with Putin.
First problem is I don’t know the man. It would be different if it were Obama. We are besties – or I am convinced we will be as soon as we meet. But Putin? I don’t know how to get to him or what I’d say if I did. I don’t even speak Russian. I am stumped. My synapses are drizzled with ancestral kill-or-be-killed hormones and simultaneously I am overwhelmed with impotence…
I mean, I have to do something, right? More than hitting the ‘share’ button on yet another another disturbing FB video. But what?. What? что делать? I am sitting here in Archway and Putin is laughing at me…
By the end of breakfast I’d be exhausted. So we gave the radio the heave-ho and now we listen to summer Jazz on Spotify. But the conundrum remains.
What’s the right focus of attention of a would-be world citizen? How do you balance the importance of being informed against the paralysing effects of too much information? Being alert is clearly smart. But free-floating alarm is toxic. Ignorance is – well – ignorant; but it is also bliss. If I live the best life I can and deal with what is in front of me, does this genuinely make a difference to the wider world? Or am I just enjoying the majesty of the starscape as the Titanic sinks beneath me?
What can I say? It’s a tightrope. And I wobble. How are you coping? I’d love to hear. Just turn off that radio…