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EditorialsUpFront - 02/20

UpFront – 02/20

Reading Humphrey Walwyn’s column this month I can’t help thinking that there is a lot to be said for a bit of pampering and spoiling. The New Year always brings so many suggestions for life changes that it’s often hard to know what to do. In the week after Christmas, I saw press alerts about best diets, best exercise routines, how to de-clutter my life (and my phone!), how to promote work/life balance and even how to have better relationships with animals. I was invited to learn the secrets to a longer, healthier and happier life and given tips on how to age gracefully. I was even given the opportunity to ‘immerse’ myself in success. What I didn’t see anywhere was suggestions on how to cut out some of the emotional turbulence that’s accompanied recent times. It seems to me that the noise level created by political discussion over the last year went through the roof. The volume of heated debate in and outside of parliament was such that it was often hard to hear people’s opinions—let alone digest and understand what they were trying to say. The relative quiet since the election has made the previous cacophony seem even more hectic, and at the time of writing there seems to be a relative lull while the next storm brews. But I wonder if that lull is more to do with not listening rather than a change in the volume. Before Christmas, I met someone who explained that for the last year or so she had been so battered by the clamor of the debate around her that she had stopped reading the front pages of her newspapers. In fact, she had avoided the first few pages altogether, instead concentrating on other news. She didn’t use social media, so was able to avoid the echo chambers of her own opinions, as well as the vitriol that accompanied some of the more ‘high spirited’ online discussions. She even stopped listening to talk radio stations and regulated her television viewing to films and documentaries that had nothing to do with current affairs. She explained that by weaning herself off constant political deliberation, the emotional decibels in her head had reduced to practically zero. Perhaps that sort of detox is worth a try. But will it mean completely distancing myself from things like Trump v Thunberg, Coronavirus, the Labour leadership challenge or that other unmentionable? I doubt it somehow—but it is a nice thought.

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