Growing up I wasn’t really interested in the news. I figured my parents would let me know when something important was happening and Capital Fm Radio would fill me in on the rest. I had little to no interest in politics, which I was later shamed for by some of my more “intellectual” peers. While I had posters of Robbie Williams and Michael Jackson on my bedroom wall, they had Jarvis Cocker and Che Guevara. The truth is, as much as I was genuinely in love with Robbie’s cheeky face and bleached blond hair, I was actually indulging my teenage angst by listening to Joni Mitchell, Carol King and James Taylor in private. I had no idea which crowd I was supposed to try and fit in with, let alone what my political stance was on anything! I didn’t care. I just wanted to learn how to write lyrics like Dylan and sing them like Barbara (Streisand not Windsor).
So it came as quite a surprise to me yesterday when I found myself standing in the Waitrose checkout queue, honing in on the newspaper headlines. They were suddenly so alive to me! I’ve stood in that queue hundreds of times before and never once noticed the newspapers strategically placed in arms reach of the last minute purchaser. The free coffee has caught my attention a few times, the cooking magazines with Heston Blumenthal’s latest recipes glistening on the front cover have often turned my head, but the news headline? Never! So why now? Why on day two of a social media cleanse is my subconscious hunting for news? I took a mental note and thought little of it again until this morning.
The first thing I did this morning after I mindfully brushed my teeth (a new habit I’m forming, it’s great, try it) was check the news headlines. Who have I become?! Interestingly, I checked for the headlines on my phone. I’d like to say I chose to check the headlines on my phone but choice had little to do with this impulsive act. I have the BBC News and Sky News apps leftover from when Brexit talks first kicked off and I was well and truly sucked in with the rest of the world. I opened both apps and flicked from one to the other, scrolling up and down, absorbing the pictures and the largest words on the screen. In complete contrast to the Connected tooth brushing experience I had just had, I was practically a zombie in this moment. I was half perched at the end of my bed, mouth slightly open, hunched over and wrapped in a towel with the shower running, impatiently waiting for me to get in it. I wasn’t really taking in anything either. I honestly couldn’t tell you a single headline I read this morning. I can tell you what my toothpaste tasted like and the temperature of the water as I swirled it around my mouth before I ceremoniously spat it out. I can tell you how my feet felt on the floor and the pace of my breath going in and out as I wiped my face. Yet I don’t remember anything about how I felt or who I was as I read those headlines. I was lost. Vanished into a world of manipulated, bias misinformation. So why did I do it..?
I’d like to stress here that I absolutely do care about what is going on in the world. I care very deeply in fact. More so now than I ever have and I expect this caring will only deepen the further I delve into my own spiritual self. However, how and where I go to be informed about what is going on in the world has become frustratingly complex and at times, overwhelming. The alarming thing about the zombie-like state I found myself in this morning is that it had little to do with updating myself on world events. I didn’t embody that hunched over posture to educate myself on where best to focus my energy today in order to help those in need. No! I did it to keep up with everyone else so that I can stay relevant. I inhaled those headlines and images so that I could quieten my underlying fear that I would become irrelevant and forgotten about if I didn’t, and I did all of this unconsciously. Why? Because social media has been bombarding my brain with conflicting versions of so-called “news” and even worse, people’s fear-based opinions about it, for years.
It both pains me and liberates me to realise that I have allowed myself to be conditioned to believe that I give a shit about things I actually don’t give a shit about! If this resonates at all with anyone out there in blog land, I hope that it brings you the same sense of freedom it has just gifted me, in this very moment.