The world is too much with me

I am weary, dragged down by the waves of controversy, aggression and conflict that have engulfed my reality over the past two weeks. My Twitter TL, usually a good barometer of the state of my corner of the nation; the daily newspapers I read or glance at in the supermarket queue; our news and radio channels: all stuffed to capacity with events and issues that polarise people.

Wherever we turn we are bombarded with breaking news and exclusives. And opinions. So many opinions.  Media professionals are working overtime on their overtime trying to catch every facial expression (and kiss), record every utterance, interview every thought leader, always rushing to be the first.

The DA/Agang break up

As a DA member, I have my personal feelings about the Agang debacle. But I’m exhausted by how it has ignited such venom in supporters (and detractors) of the protagonists and turned everyone into a political analyst.

For how long will the point-scoring and character assassination continue? As kids we learn to deal with rejection when friends don’t want to play with us. We shed a few tears but then move on.

But the over-analysis and navel-gazing that has characterised this political fallout has sucked my energy to the point I can’t read or talk about it anymore. I’m spent.

Philip Seymour Hoffman’s overdose

The untimely death of such a talented actor is a great loss to the entertainment world. Let’s accept it as such. But opinions surrounding his overdose have spawned a hostile battle about the nature of addiction between those who think he ‘chose’ to die by using heroin and those who treat addiction as a severe mental illness the sufferer is often powerless to fight.

Let’s breathe deeply, people, and move on. And let’s leave the wailing and pontificating to those who actually knew the man and his demons.

Madiba’s will

Tata, it’s two months after your death and the unity and harmony that poured across your beloved country in the wake of your dying is gone. And one of the many issues we are conflicted about is your will.

We clutch at your final words, so deeply personal. And we judge. We weigh up competing interests, each one of us an expert in the law of succession, an insider in the complex web of your family structure.

I wish we could leave you in peace and your family to grieve and heal.

The polarisation of Twitter into the Solomon and Bullard camps

This one came hot on the heels of the first three and found me already issue-fatigued. She says she was raped but has not laid a charge nor publicly named her attacker. He concludes from this that she is lying and was probably drunk at the time (as if that excuses rape). And they attack each other in an ongoing Twitter war, collecting support as they go.

And it gets ugly, so ugly. Then Ivo Vegter weighs in with, “For the record, I take no sides in Solomon vs Bullard, because I disapprove of both”, (inadvertently?) launching himself directly into the firing line. And so the fire is reignited.

Do I care about the issue of rape? Hell, yes. But I can’t be arsed to jump in to this spat because it’s out of control and nobody listens.

The world is too much with us

Two more conflicts in my sphere of influence, one of a personal nature and one in my professional life, and a bout of bronchitis have left me spent.

As a nation we are so quick to take sides; there is always right and wrong, black and white. True to form, our reactions to the events of the past few weeks have been intense, visceral.

So much anger; so much fighting.

I am usually decisive; opinions and feelings develop inside me with very little prompting.  There is very little grey about me. At the moment, however, I can’t decide what I feel or think about things. It’s too much.

One of the things I love most about South Africa is how dynamic our life is. But recently I’ve longed for dull moments. The vibrancy and noise are proving too much for me.

I am reminded of a sonnet I studied in matric, ‘The world is too much with us’. Although Wordsworth wrote of how the materialism occasioned by the Industrial Revolution caused people to lose touch with nature, his opening words work just as well to describe the information onslaught that characterises our daily lives. Right now, it is too much with me.

This article first appeared on The Media Online here.