Before you click

Natasha Moore writes about the downsides of the 24-hour news cycle, and the new filter she’s applying to her clicking habits.

My fellow CPXers and I, we do this “Thinking Out Loud” thing twice a week. Often it’s sparked by something in the news – good, bad, ugly, quirky; what everyone’s talking about, or what no one is but someone should be.

This is a problem for me today.

Last week I moved house, and then immediately headed off on holidays. And for days and days, I read no news. None at all.

I saw things pop up occasionally on socials (I mean I wasn’t off the grid or anything). But it all felt a bit far off. Trump – still sick or no? Gladys – wait, what happened with Gladys?

I’m not a news junkie (no really, I’m not!) But we can all reel off the downsides to the 24-hour news cycle: it privileges bad news over good, sensational over boring-but-important, personality over substance. Clickbait answers to the needs of advertisers, not citizens. It fritters away time and mental energy that could otherwise go to “deep work”. It entrenches our us-and-thems.

On holiday – and this doesn’t always happen – I just kind of forgot all about my normal life. There were people I should have messaged about important life events, emails I should have answered. It was like slipping into a parallel dimension.

On my way back, I started remembering all the balls I’d dropped. I’m easing back into the web of relationships and commitments and admin that I call “normal” life. I’ve opened a news email or twelve.

The break did what it’s meant to: I feel re-energised for that web I do love being tangled in. But it’s also made me pause over my news intake, and come up with a filter I want to apply to my clicking habits: how will this help me love my neighbour?