Each day when I log onto social media, I am reminded of Dorothy Parker's line: "What fresh hell can this be?" I know I am not alone in this. I use Facebook because it allows me to stay in touch with friends all over the world. Trust me, when you live in the middle of nowhere you have no idea how valuable that connection is. I am not on Twitter because truth is, that is a level of insanity that once visited, I am not sure I would return from. Me, a glass of wine, 1am and Twitter is a recipe for disaster.
Today though, my newsfeed reminded me of a few things when this article appeared like a lighthouse in the dark sea of news. How To Avoid Being Psychologically Destroyed By Your Newsfeed by Ann Douglas. I don't think there is anything necessarily life shattering about her advice but it was the reminder of what I (and I think many others) need during these tumultuous times. What hooked me was her first suggestion, "Recognize that there's a difference between being immersed and being informed." If I had to describe my recent state of mind, it has been that. It has even led me to not wanting to listen to the radio (a great love of mine) because the news updates are always followed by a loud, "really??" That suggestion also reminded me to make use of my Freedom App. For those unaware of what this is, it allows you to disconnect your internet access for a period of time up to your choosing. It is an app that has carried me to the finish line on many projects and despite being on my desktop, I forget that it is there. I need to make use of it more given that I am so close to completing my collection of short stories. Also that in the last writing course I took with One Story, a few ideas came from the assignments which have given me that kick in the bum I have needed, as well as taken me out of my comfort zone. Watch this space!
The thing is, I think being kind to ourselves is key and sometimes that means taking time away from what is going on. Last week, I decided to put down the books I was reading and escape into a new world. After twenty years of resistance, I finally found myself at Hogwarts. I started reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. I know it took me longer than others to get there but I think that was a journey that I needed to take my time with. I won't lie, I'm hooked and it is the perfect distraction from those moments when the news is too much and I just want to curl up somewhere warm, a cuppa (as they say here) and remember what childlike wonder and enthusiasm used to feel like.
The flipside of that is also honouring the events. Last weekend, Sir John Hurt passed away. He was one of hubby and I's favourite actors and so we decided to have a mini Hurt-a-thon, beginning with The Naked Civil Servant, the bio pic based on Quentin Crisp's book of the same name. There is always a controversy within the LGBT community discussing Quentin but I think we can all agree that he was a larger than life figure. That the film was screened on UK television in 1975 makes it one of importance in LGBT history whatever your thoughts on the controversial musings of Quentin Crisp. Moving on from The Naked Civil Servant, we took a dystopian break in 1984. Very topical these days and currently selling faster than it can be kept in print. As much as escape is necessary, there is a danger in becoming an ostrich too. I remember having to read Orwell's masterpiece in high school, and it is one of those books that always stays with you. Contrary to some people's political beliefs, it is not a manual but a warning. If in doubt, I think the film does a great job of hitting that point home. Is real life stranger than fiction? I am not sure I am seeing that much of a difference anymore. We finished our Hurt-a-thon with An Englishman in New York which saw Hurt reprise his role as Quentin Crisp. The film picks up after The Naked Civil Servant with Quentin moving from London to New York. I watched this the first time it aired on television in 2009. The UK was a different country from the one Quentin left behind. Here I was, an American in a Civil Partnership with my Englishman. Marriage equality was still a few years away but things were heading that way. I can only imagine what witty and controversial comments Quentin would have made on the state of events. In re-watching I couldn't stop thinking about the vulnerability that John Hurt brings to this role. We see Quentin as the celebrity du jour who is brought down by his own ill thought out remarks regarding the AIDS crisis. That of course though is not the end of him and after a quiet period, his life and work became of interest again. Sadly for Quentin, as work increased, his health did not and in the greatest irony of his life, he would die in the one country he feared dying in; England.
I'm not one that can totally disengage from the news or from social media but I do think that going forward I will need to find that balance between tuning out and tuning in. For the moment though, back to Hogwarts!
John Lugo-Trebble considers this more of a space to engage personal reflections and memories with connections to music and film.