Current Events And The Small Picture

Current Events And The Small Picture

When I mentioned to my parents that I hadn’t written a blog post in two weeks, they asked me if it was because I had nothing to say. The fact is, I have plenty to say. I just don’t have the words to say it, or the will to sit at a computer until I can form them into sentences and know that what I’m writing is actually what I mean.

One of the problems with blogging, I’ve found in recent weeks and months, is the sense of obligation or pressure I feel to write about current events, or at least to acknowledge them. When there are important things happening in the world, it seems callous or even disrespectful to ignore them in favour of talking about books or the fact I’ve watched fifty-two episodes of Orange is the New Black in a week. I had blog posts planned on all sorts of topics — how I was using origami to beat my boredom-induced depression, for example — but I felt unable to write about them.

Why should I be allowed to talk about arts and crafts the day an MP was shot and killed on the way to surgery with her constituents? How can I discuss TV and well-written character deaths when I’m in a perpetual state of fear about the future and what Brexit means for me as a young person?

I’ve seen friends and acquiantances lose mortgages and visas in the aftermath of this referendum, and all I have to talk about is the books I’m reading, the plots I’m struggling to fix. Because I don’t know enough to say anything of interest, anything profound, about  current events. There’s analysis on the news every day and I can barely make sense of it myself, let alone figure out anything new to say myself.

Besides, who cares what I’ve got to say about it? You’re not reading my blog for political analysis. You’re reading it for the topics that I cared about enough to blog about in the past. The trouble is that I’ve been so distracted by current events, I can’t bring myself to focus on those, and when I’ve got nothing to say about political upheaval, I’ve got nothing to say at all.

Yet somehow it doesn’t feel okay to just ignore what’s going on in the world around me, not when I care so much about it, and fear its effects so much. I’m wary of talking about things that I’m ignorant of, in case I say something completely misguided; I’m also determined to get to grips with what’s going on in my country, so that I can have an informed opinion.

Right now, I’d prefer to ignore reality entirely, because the government’s falling apart. The Tory party’s dissolving into chaos, the Labour party following suit. UKIP are gaining way too much influence and it scares me half to death. I don’t have any faith that politicians can make this situation better, and I’m fed up of the media constantly feeding the population one side of the story or the other, usually in a heavily biased way. How are we meant to know the truth about anything, when that’s what we’re facing?

But why does origami or novel editing matter when my future hangs in the balance? It doesn’t. I start writing blog posts and all I can think is how small, how unimportant, these things I’m talking about actually are. I can’t bring myself to care about them, and so I’m not at all confident that anybody else does either. Which makes me reluctant to bother.

When I do blog it’s usually about how uncertain I am about blogging, and that’s reaching a whole new level of meta.

I’ve reached the point where there’s just too much going on in the world: flooding and murder and political disaster and economic crisis and the rise of the far right and prejudice. I can neither care about all of it, nor be educated enough on it all to talk about it, except to say that I’m scared about what it means for me and others of my generation.

I have to go back to the unimportant. I have to talk about how I’m attempting to fix a plot hole in the second draft of Butterfly of Night by means of a roll of lining paper covered in musings and contradictions that have uncovered more problems than they have solutions. I have to talk about how I learned to make origami stars and how I’ve got a new colouring book, because otherwise I can’t talk about anything, and I’m getting so worked up about the big picture I can’t focus on any of the details.

I can’t fix the world. I can’t fix my country. I can’t even fix my UKIP-supporting Leave-voting borough, because I have no way of making my voice heard. Right now, I just have to look at the little things.

Books. Arts and crafts. New bands I’ve discovered, authors I’m reading for the first time, TV shows I’ve been marathoning. I can’t understand, let alone influence, the big stuff, so it’s the small stuff I’m going to focus on.

So if it seems like I’m ignoring current events on my blog, it’s because I am, because there’s nothing I can say about them that you won’t have heard a hundred times already. I still care. I’m still frightened and passionate and angry. But I can’t use this platform to talk about them.

3 thoughts on “Current Events And The Small Picture

  1. I don’t see an issue in you talking about what you want to talk about.

    Freedom of expression gives you the liberty to an opinion on these issues, but that doesn’t mean anyone has a right to know what your opinion is.

    There are people (myself included) who might find that opinion interesting, but that doesn’t mean anyone has a right to know what your opinion is.

    So, talk about what you want to talk about.

    And – while these issues are significant – a rule that they must be important enough to shunt other things out of discussion could well be giving them more visibility than they need. After all, many extremists feed on publicity, so not mentioning terrorism and demagoguery because you have something else to say instead can be a better act than mentioning for the sake of it.

    It’s also pleasant to be reminded that the various issues of the world haven’t included an end to books, music, fresh-ground artisanal coffee, and the myriad other things that people care about.

    So write whatever you want. Apart from cynical lies aimed at disenfranchising and depressing people; those, we’ve had enough of.

  2. I know what you mean! Perhaps not in the same way, of course, and probably not with the same context. I don’t live in the U.K. so I have an outsider’s perspective on that. And I certainly don’t have any experiences or possibilities near to those who are suffering from violent attacks, shootings, bombings, and other terrible events that have happened over the last couple of weeks. It’s really scary and sad and sometimes it isn’t just that I don’t know how to say what I want to say on my blog, but I don’t know how to defend my opinions to a suitable degree.

    I typically don’t talk about that stuff on my blog—and it’s okay. I think. My blog is about writing and reading, so it doesn’t always fit to share what I think regarding current events. When I feel confident enough, I sometimes recommend books that deal with the current issues present in the news, but I don’t usually expand further than that. I save my thoughts and opinions for Facebook (more private) and Twitter (more public) where the forum is more open and I can share the voices of people being affected by those tragedies a lot more directly.

    So, yeah, I get it if you don’t really want to use your blog as a platform to talk about those. But in some situations, it also might be better to open up those discussions somewhere else in the first place.

    1. Yeah, that makes sense. I do use Twitter quite a lot because there it’s quite easy to retweet the ideas and info shared by people who know more than me, and also to add my own thoughts, whereas with blogs I have to put more of my own content. Also, with Twitter I can sort of comment briefly on something, and then leave, whereas a blog needs more in-depth analysis. (Well, at least the way I run this blog.) That said, I’ve been retreating a bit from current events on all social media platforms because I’m just getting overwhelmed and anxious, so while I’m still seeing it, I’m refraining from trying to comment. The world is a stressful place.

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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