Parkinson’s Law states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. In the same way, content – or, as it used to be called, ‘news’ – fills to expand the time available for its consumption.
Like a magic porridge pot of curated anxiety, it will churn through your life and churn through your stomach until you can take no more.
One of the biggest lies that rolling news and social media have sold us is that Everything Matters.
There’s too much news. There’s too much information. Too many opinions you’re expected to have. This week, with Bernie Sanders announced he’s running for president, the new Independent political group arrived, Gove announced tariffs on food imports, Derek Hatton has re-joined, and now re-left, the Labour party. And so much more.
Part of the problem is we should pay attention to the world around us. It’s important to know what’s going on to a certain extent, but it’s impossible to keep-up. Most of us already filter our news, perhaps by picking specific publications which align politically, or niche information sources about hobbies or work, or on a geographical basis. But part of the problem is also knowing when to stop.
One option is to eliminate everything, take a week or two away from it all and then gradually reintroduce to your life what’s important to you. Unfollow (as opposed unfriend) everyone on Facebook; mute every Twitter account, stop visiting news sites. Then, slowly: what do you miss? Who do you want to hear from? Allow it back into your life, but make a specific choice to.
I think we all suffer from the equivalent of ‘feature creep‘: things become gradually more complicated over time to an overwhelming degree. It’s almost spring – have a bit of a clean.