One of the joys of the silly season in Australian media is that the focus switches from being bored to death by Duelling Press Releases in backwoods Canberra to the relative excitement of watching five-day cricket tests on television.
Like a blowfly loose in the kitchen, you only notice the enervating influence of the drone from the nation’s capital when the Raid starts working. The resulting quiet allows you the space to make New Year’s resolutions about your media consumption.
Most of the suggestions below broadly come under the heading of Turning Off the Noise. In our always-on, wireless and networked modern world, preserving one’s sanity is often best achieved by just un-hooking oneself for a while (or not allowing oneself to get hooked in the first place.)
So in the interest of sponsoring more calm reflection and less needless flying off the handle, here is my 12-step program for junk media junkies in 2012:
- Don’t watch Q&A. Going to sleep is a challenge at the best of times. Achieving it after an hour of having one’s blood pressure raised by the likes of Sophie Mirabella and Jim Wallace is virtually impossible
- If You Must Watch Q&A, Don’t Tweet It: This is like trying to meditate to 2GB. After 40 minutes, you want to strangle the Buddha.
- No more Drum solos. While Jonathan Green does a marvellous and thankless job editing the ABC’s opinion site, there are only so many IPA rants about the Nanny State that one can accommodate without taking an axe to the Nursery.
- Shun the Sun King. Rupert, enemy of “elites” everywhere, is omnipresent. He’s even on Twitter now. So don’t follow him. And don’t read his papers. If you want his empire to die, you have to stop talking about it, linking to it and giving it any oxygen whatsoever. If they want to reach you, they’ve got your number.
- Keep the Insiders Outside. Spending a sunny Sunday morning watching jaded journos call the winners of the weekly horse race out of Canberra is like looking at your teenage kids squeezing their blackheads. Not one’s idea of a good time.
- Polls are for Trolls. It should be evident by now to the sane among us that media companies use opinion polls purely as content generators. It’s manufactured news. Keep an eye on Possum. If a trend is emerging, he’ll tell you.
- Wallow in your insignificance. Most of what we fret about in Australia barely rates anywhere else. Change your bookmarks from the SMH and The Oz to The New York Times, The Guardian & Germany's Spiegel Online. Be a citizen of the world (and of your local community).
- Network in the Pub. Digital relationships are all very well, but we’d make a lot more sense to each other if we spent less time tweeting and more time tippling.
- Delay consumption. If you must track news closely, read the papers a week after publication. You’ll be amazed how little of any lasting significance there is. Oh, and refrain from reading the 2012 forecasts till December.
- Make amends to those you have wronged. Apologise to all the trolls on Twitter for swearing at them over their insistence that the science isn’t in on climate change. Then block them and report them for spam.
- Facebook is for fun. Your Aunty Mary is not interested in the theoretical analysis of digitally mediated social movements. She just wants to see pictures of your new puppy.
- Recognise a higher power. No, not Rupert. It’s your Lost Life calling.