Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Ramblings: Media Shutdown

Socrates’ iconic quotation that “the unexamined life is not worth living” has been ringing in my ears for the past few weeks. I’m sure my ruminations are a long way from his intention when making that statement but they follow a similar path. I feel less examined than usual.

The thing is, I’ve given up social networking. It’s nothing permanent, just a hiatus till the end of December. I’ve grown increasingly sick of seeing adverts on T.V. and billboards, listening to endless dull chatter on the bus and at work and having stuff rammed down my throat about a two day festival which I don’t celebrate and actively hate, for a number of reasons. The bombardment began in October and had reached a frenetic level by November and as Christmas actually approaches and it becomes slightly more appropriate, it can only get worse.

As usual, the T.V. has gone in the cupboard to spare me the hideous sight of fake bonhomie and incinerated poultry corpses and music radio is totally out of the question in case I catch a whisper of Slade, Wizard or any other such annual tortures. Those people should be tried like war criminals in my view. I’m avoiding shops (crowded and full of tat), cafes and restaurants (hastily rustled together food, clueless temporary staff and office parties) and am not even online shopping (lengthy queues at the parcel collection office). Cheers, festivity for knocking the joy out of so many of my usual pleasures.

I was happily using Facebook as usual until October. Around this time, the C word (Christmas, the word “cunt” is fine by me and less horrifying) started to rear its tinselly and tasteless head. By last week the amount of kittens in Santa hats popping up on my news feed was leading to so much nausea that I risked starvation. I decided to suspend my account and stay away till it’s all over and the scary fat man (who exists to advertise a caffeinated drink), has stopped frightening children and greed and rampant consumerism recedes to its usual level.

I’m embarrassed to say that I’m missing it. I find myself thinking up comedy one-liners as I stand in the bus queue. I get caught up in a ludicrous situation and am dying to share it with the world. I buy something and want to photograph it and show it off online. I want to share my views on T.V. and films, wax lyrical about theatre or art I’ve seen or regale people with tales of who I’ve shushed in a cinema.

I found a really beautiful 1950s coffee set in a charity shop at the weekend and my first thought was: “I must put this on Facebook” My second thought was: “What does this say about me as a person?” Am I a terrible show off? Do I fail to value anything unless the rest of the world tells me it’s beautiful too? Am I just generous and want to share the beautiful things I have? It’s probably a combination of all the previous questions. We humans are complicated beings. I will remain restrained though. I won’t tell you anything about what a bargain it was or how handsome it looks in my house. I’ll just enjoy it for me.

I miss the gossip too. Divorces, deaths and trips to Ikea, all get equal billing on Facebook and Twitter. Like my late grandmother, I like to be the first to know and a small part of me worries what I’m missing out on. On second thoughts, its December, people will be posting pictures of tedious parties or animals in fancy dress. I doubt I’m missing anything. I think this temporary separation will do me good.

I’m not entirely succeeding in avoiding all the Christmas crap. I got caught in Oxfam with a tape of festive tunes and the hospital where I work is festooned with enough gaudiness to make Liberace seem like he was an icon of restraint. I also got wished “Merry Christmas” four times so far this week, which is unsettling as its only the start of Advent,

I’ll carry on filling my time with watching DVDs on my laptop, blogging, writing and ploughing my way through a pile of novels. I’ll be back with plenty to say on the F word after the C word has ended. For those of you that are practising Christians, enjoy it. For the rest of you, whatever it is you might be celebrating and for whatever reason you’re doing it, I totally fail to understand you, but hope that you enjoy that too.

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