No news is good news – Information overload

Writing tips

Pebbles in BrightonIs Information overload a thing? How easily does it creep up on us? You can be having an innocent enough conversation about the weather …  Here in Brighton (Hove actually – local joke) beach front benches are knee deep in pebbles hurled from the beach, and hypocritical newspaper photographers are busy taking photos of people daring to take photos of the ‘killer waves’ that lash our shore. This leads me into my Janu-rant – it’s my new term. I invented it. I’ll be the first to use it. Remember me when they give out awards for word of the year.

Yesterday was Blue Monday. Officially the most miserable day of the year. I was supposed to feel weary and weighed down with worry. How do I know this? Because that’s what I read online. In the news. The same news that urged me to head for the shops on Super Saturday and hit the online stores on Cyber Monday. All to bag myself reasonably priced electronic goods. I’ve decided to give up drinking for a few weeks after the excesses of Christmas. Until recently, I thought of this as a nice little break for the liver. Turns out I’m hitting the Janopause.

The constant need to brand everyday life feels like a loss of control. Information overload. Decisions are being made for me. When it was reported online that some shops had Easter Eggs on sale on Boxing day, I felt the urge to log in and pass comment.

This is where madness lies.

The final frontier of sanity ends where you find yourself handing over personal details to pass comment on news stories. Each day I hate myself for the way I can’t help but read the online bile churned out by the Daily Mail. Soon enough, I discovered the reader comments that lurked below each story. It left me in a state of despair. Middle England seems to spend its spare time stoking a cauldron of hate and intolerance. People post online to be funny/clever. They are neither. And what sort of moron creates an account to post nothing more than ‘who?’ beneath a photo spread from the latest Katie Price wedding.

I’m going to try and give one thing up for January (besides the booze). The news. Before now, I used to think people who didn’t read the news were losers. How can anyone survive without knowing what’s going on? How can you have an intelligent, informed conversation without reading the news?

If I’m honest, it isn’t the news itself that is at fault, it’s the obsession to make everything into news. The few factual headlines are easy to overlook in favour of human interest stories or press releases passed off as feature articles. There’s too much nonsense being talked out there and too much being passed off as newsworthy.

I’ll give it a few weeks and see if I feel out of touch or ill-informed. Or if, as I suspect, a month reading anything but the news improves my stress levels and tolerance. Be gone information overload!

The writing continues apace, with me now at the editing stage of the second draft. The last few chapters still need attention as I’m worried there’s too much sugar on the sour. All in all, though, I’m happy to have a story that makes sense from start to end.  I think I’ve created a cast of characters that work together – and I’m open to explore some of their stories further in future books.

At the Fannings, we’re enjoying the calm before the renovation storm. Having mortgaged ourselves to the hilt, we’re about to launch into a bathroom move (not just a refit, we’re shifting it to a whole other place). After this comes the kitchen, by which time the ancient laminate floor will be hacked to pieces and need replacing. Along the way there are windows to be added, walls to move and a leaky front door that’s proven to be the bane of Mr Fanning’s life. For once, I feel I’m facing a year where I’ll have something to write about. Just don’t expect much in the way of news.

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