The other week I was reading an article by the writer Charlie Brooker who writes for the Guardian. He wrote an article entitled:
There's too much stuff. We live in a stuff-a-lanche. It's time for a cultural diet.
It was all about how he buys so many books and DVD box sets which he feels he has to read or watch, but invariably never ends up doing so, because he never has the time. Essentially he says there's too much cultural stuff out there for us to consume. Too many books to read, films to watch, and music to listen to. We all need in his words a ‘Cultural diet’. I read this, thinking to myself: ‘This is so true!’
I constantly find myself under pressure to consume and keep up to date with so many cultural topics and activities it's actually quite stressful!
For example, during an average week, my cultural requirements include reading a newspaper everyday!
I can fit in the Evening Standard on the journey home from work, but trying to get through a Guardian or Times on the same day is really pushing it.
If I do, I barely read anything. You can argue I should get my news from the web, but that's just as time consuming.
I still have loads of blogs and websites to read. I’ve recently discovered the benefits of Google Reader which now allows me to read and keep up to date with all my favourite blogs and websites all in one go. If only I’d discovered this sooner, as it's made my life so much easier!
When it comes to reading, I always find that Sundays are the worst. I wake up and look at my clock and see it’s 10:00am I need to get up, I have papers to read!
My schedule is usually News of the World which I begin by at least 11:00am. I then move onto the Sunday Times Sport section, which is then followed by the Culture Section, but recently I’ve been messing with my schedule and reading the main newspaper section instead.
All this HAS to be done by at least 2:30pm as I normally play badminton on a Sunday afternoon at 3:30pm The clock is always ticking!
If I’m not half way through the Culture section by 2:30pm I’m behind schedule. By the time I get home after playing, I then need to get through all the other sections I normally read.
If I’ve not read enough, it potentially throws my entire reading schedule out of sync for the rest of the week!
My bedroom floor is always covered with newspapers and magazines stretching back months that I haven’t got round to reading. I look at them all in despair sometimes and think,
‘Right, I’m throwing all this out into the recycling bin'
Then I have a quick flick through and realise I wanted to read that article about the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe in 1989, or read about Michelle Obama’s charity work in the ghettos of Washington DC! It means those papers and magazines remain on my bedroom floor for a least another month!
On the book front, I reckon I’ve only read about four or five books this year, but I need to read more. I haven’t read enough novels this year, but where am I going to find the time to keep up to date with latest critically acclaimed releases or the Man Booker Prize winner as well as reading recommendations from friends, and other so called 'classics' that you’re supposed to read!
As well as not reading enough books, there's all the DVD’s I’ve got at home which I never watch and should make more of an effort to. But if you’re watching all the DVDs you’ve already got, where do you find the time to buy and watch new DVDs? I’m already conscious of the fact I don’t watch enough films, but there’s so many comedies and US dramas I need to have!
Finally there's music. I’m always reminding myself that I don’t listen to the radio as much as I used to, or listen to enough podcasts. How am I going to keep up to date with new music or rediscover old classics?
We’ve got to a stage where music has become so accessible, through downloading and sites like Spotify and iTunes it's now so easy to access, you’re almost overwhelmed by the choices on offer to you.
It’s like there’s no excuses anymore not to know about a classic album or some up and coming new band, singer, or music style. It’s all out there at the click of a button.
A colleague from work likes to talk to me about all the latest Urban dance music styles. She asked me a few months ago if I knew the tune ‘Head, Shoulders, Kneez & Toez ? I said no, by the time I discovered it, and felt I was up to date, little did I know it had already been released 6 months earlier!
Due to this sense of shame, I had to do some revision on the latest urban music styles such as UK Funky . I can now thankfully say that I’m up to speed on dance crazes like the Migraine Skank!
I loved Brooker’s comment when he said:
“I want to be told what to read, watch and listen to. I want my hands tied. I want a cultural diet”
I understand where he’s coming from with this so much!
The phrase ‘Less is more’ springs to mind when I think of all of the cultural stuff out there. We need to be more selective but I know this is easier said then done.
I’m not sure how I’m going to overcome this problem, either I need to manage my free-time like clock work (which doesn’t sound like fun) to fit everything in, or just except that I can’t keep up to date with everything that’s out there!
Having thought about it, I think I need to be more ruthless, and say ‘this is want I’m into and interested in, and I don’t have time to focus on other stuff.’
We’ll have to see if I can maintain this stance.