You know Schrödinger’s cat, yeah? Of course you do. Some idiot has put a cat in a box and the odds it being dead or alive are even. Scientists, eh? Open the box and hope for the best, I guess. What else can you do?
Anyway, replace ‘cat’ with ‘the news’ and ‘box’ with ‘my phone’ and you pretty much have my life right now. Yours too, probably. The news is trapped in our phone. Should we let it out? At any moment there is a fifty-fifty chance that Boris Johnson has become prime minister, that Trump has launched all the missiles, that somebody has joined the dots between Jacob Rees-Mogg’s oversized suits and the recent disappearances of several heavily built men.
What choice do we have? Best to check, yes? Best to have a quick look at the news. If nothing else you will be able to see the latest thing that Piers Morgan has said and how angry everybody is about it. I mean, yeah, he is about as close to a real life Alan Partridge as civilisation has managed so far, and sure, he is literally a man who says stupid things for money, but how else are you going to make yourself depressed if you don’t keep up with this stuff?
I have definitely done too much news this year. I’ve gorged on the stuff. Overdosed. I have pointlessly kept abreast of the Brexit negotiations despite the fact that as Theresa May pointed out, “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.” Until we crash out of the EU without a deal and the bottom falls out of the economy it is all just waffle and conjecture. I really could have spent the time more wisely. Essentially, any tiny influence I had on the outcome ended when the polls closed two-and-a-half years ago. I had my vote and, unless there is a second referendum, I won’t be getting another one. I lost, get over it, etc, etc.
We are actually approaching a period where being on top of the details is becoming more important. It is, for example, a good idea to keep up-to-date with what might be worth stockpiling. But nothing I have learned in the last twelve months has added anything to my life except ennui, and even now anything more than a once-a-day browse through the chaos is too much, isn’t it? A bit of radio, a podcast or two, read a paper once a week. That’ll probably do it.
Maybe I should buy one of the books I always plan to get round to reading (but never find the time) and put it on my bedside table. If, each morning, instead of checking the news on my phone, I read a page or two of Middlemarch or Emma or The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, my life would, I suspect, be a little brighter. I should maybe give it a go.