Detox Days

After two excellent posts this month by Emily and Alex, I’m back, and for the first time in a while I actually have something worth saying. A week ago, without telling anyone, I entered into a temporary social media detox. I deactivated my Facebook account for three days, turned off all Messenger notifications and looked at Twitter and Instagram as little as possible. I started writing this post then, as I don’t consider this blog to be social media. After all, what you read here is largely all my own work, and as a lot of you will know by now, it’s been an invaluable outlet for my thoughts and feelings over the last five years, so it escaped the cut. I feel I really benefited from the break and, having now finished all my work for the second year of university (madness), I went into it with some new pastimes in mind.

I won’t lie to you, they did still mostly revolve around screen time or Spotify. I finished watching Normal People, searched for some new music I could listen to while concentrating, and even saw The Lego Movie 2 with Louis. Last night, I actually decided to get some use out of my Netflix (which I’m ashamed to say is neglected far too much), and watched one of the countless well-known films I’d never seen before. In this instance, it was the highly entertaining Ocean’s Eleven. Yes, none of these things abandoned technology completely, but I still felt calmer, like some kind of weight I couldn’t quite identify had been lifted. I was talking to Alex about this feeling just the other day, and how even though giving up social media entirely would disconnect me from too many people, I can definitely see why the idea is appealing to others. My little breather has exposed just how much of a difference focusing on yourself, even for a little bit, can make. I’ll certainly think about doing it again when I feel the need – and next time, I might aim for a week off instead of three days!

Mason

 

Trouble In The Airwaves

For the first time ever, at the beginning of this Formula One season, I found myself feeling something other than delight. Yes, there is still half a season standing between me and it, but it is there nevertheless, staring me in the face undeniably. I refer to the imminent loss of free-to-air TV coverage in the UK, which threatens to leave me without regular access from 2019. Just like running water, it has always been something I have taken for granted during every race weekend. I could find solace in knowing that I would have a constant, eight-month stream of race action to make everything better in my life. It would be uninterrupted (apart from the ad breaks on ITV and Channel 4), and as far as I was concerned then, things were going to stay that way. Unfortunately, however, this is no longer the case – one of Bernie Ecclestone’s last acts as F1’s leading man before being removed by Liberty Media was to close an exclusive deal with Sky, allowing them to continue showing every lap live from next year onwards.

That makes 2018 the last season for Channel 4’s coverage. As I write, no replacement channel has been announced, and this prolonged silence is making the prospect of not seeing next year’s races even worse. At university I may end up with a TV licence, but I won’t be able to afford a costly Sky Sports package. This causes me to be infuriated even more by the deal, since I have put at least 15 years of time and enthusiasm into the sport. I have never willingly missed a race in that time. I have invested in race tickets, video games and merchandise, and this is how I am repaid – by being deprived of my main link to F1. Yes, there is excellent radio coverage provided by the BBC, but F1 is a visual sport – and listening to the lights go out on the grid, or a collision between two title protagonists, doesn’t have quite the same impact as it would on screen.

Since taking the helm in early 2017, Liberty Media have impressed many by keeping the humble fan at the centre of attention. After their early efforts, they are yet to truly put a foot wrong, but their work is far from over. They are compensating for the changes in TV coverage with the launch of a new online streaming service, but the live racing action it provides is not yet available in the UK. We now live in a world where it would be foolish to ignore the internet and social media in promoting F1, but I feel Liberty urgently needs to address the TV situation in order to make a long-term impact. Is it really worth focusing on an online presence if it will completely exclude those fans who cannot join it?

Mason

A Question Of Sincerity

When our friends or family are going through troubling times, we automatically jump to be there to support them. We do everything we can to offer them a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, day or night, whenever they might need it – and when we’re in a position to, we gladly allow them to take up said offer in an instant. But what happens when there is distance separating us from the person in need? Such an obstacle is more easily overcome for some of us than it is for others, so when we have no choice but to assist from afar, we often turn to social media to voice any concerns. Messages can be continuously swapped, and every one can be written with unbelievable sincerity, but the problem is that it can be difficult to accurately convey tone when they aren’t being spoken in person.

That, in turn, can lead to worries – at least on my part – that the gestures will be perceived as hollow and meaningless, even when they are exactly the opposite. I have a few friends facing difficulties at the moment, and without the option of being physically around to help them, I can do little else but use the aforementioned medium to be there instead. The paranoia that comes with the fear of seeming uncaring is bad enough when you’re talking privately with someone (being one of only two voices), but when you’re part of a group – as I am in the Creative Winch Buddies – you have to insert your words amongst everyone else’s. Everyone sends theirs with as much care and concern as the next person, but if mine come after they have all had their say, I worry that it looks like I’ve offered them out of obligation rather than anything more genuine. As I’ve thought about this more and more in recent weeks, this blog post serves as something of a promise, mainly to the friends I care about so deeply whenever they need support. Whether you are near or far away, and regardless of how said support might be expressed, it is always given from the very bottom of my heart – and nothing else but an abundance of love.

Mason

A Stiff Drink

Last night, Mum, Dad and I had a drink in the kitchen – a glass of pink gin and tonic, no less – whilst dinner was cooking. I eagerly accepted this, even though I don’t tend to drink very often, and the glass felt cold and refreshing as I held it in my hand. Mum told me not to neck the gin too quickly, so I made sure to raise it to my parched lips sporadically, giving me the opportunity to savour it for as long as possible. Each time I swigged from the glass, I would look down into the bottom, where the ice cubes were floating, and whenever I did so I felt a twinge – a distinct stiffness – in the back of my neck.

I had been feeling this all day, and can attribute it largely to the fact that I spent most of it looking down at my laptop screen. Like many people, I probably do far too much of this, but on this particular occasion my body gave me a reminder that was both subtle and consistently noticeable. It had been there for several hours, and yet I never paid it much attention until I came away from the computer. If anything could tell me my priorities weren’t right, that was probably the most effective thing (I say, writing about it on a blog). When I received my current laptop in July 2016, I intended to use it primarily for reading and creative projects such as Third Time Enabled, but social media and video games had other ideas. I’ll have to try my best to consume both in moderation if I can – although those could turn out to be famous last words! I am helped at the moment by the fact that I have university plans to focus on. These have left me happier and more optimistic overall than I have been in some time, and I am filled with joy at the prospect of continuing my journey to September and beyond – such happiness is more than capable of making any stiff neck bearable. It’s the perfect cure.

Mason