The chime of another year done; the fireworks and sloppy kisses, children hiding under tables amongst the tinsel, and Tesco party food ‘3-for-2’ deals. Arms fold and clasp as the initial verses of Auld Lang Syne are mumbled (bravado kicking in only during the choruses). Between those arms lay the best laid plans that the New Year brings with it – the promise that finally we can be the best version of ourselves. Final Year Lists clog up every media outlet and newsfeed, the staccato confetti that bursts out between Yoga Pants ads and Gym Membership deals. They diligently list the authors’ favourite things during the year past, whether it be music releases, comic books, or hair products. These lists give the reader some advice and allow the author a sense of closure on the year and affirmation that the time passed was not futile – something was gained.
Authors of these fabulously contemporary listicles tend to be people with their ears to the ground – offering nuggets of 2017 that we mere mortals may have missed in the bland chaos of life. (A particular fave includes this rad gig guide from relatively new DIY Punk Music review site Shout Louder).
This is where I now present you with your very own contemporary listicle (a week late, just for you). But instead of exhibiting all the nice stuff gained, or albums listened to, or top foods eaten in 2017, I resolve to give you the list of ‘Doing Better’ which aims to to give you some valuable scrolling material whilst also fulfilling that need to become a shiny new human pupae to bring in the new year.
In an increasingly connected world, we often feel like there is no escape from bleak news story after bleak news story. The notification light blinks as yet another catastrophic political decision or celebrity death bombards the living room peace treaty. However, there is a growing feeling amongst the young generation that we should stop listening to the news – it only makes us feel bad. Often this is exclaimed with a prideful exhaustion (‘Oh god, I just can’t read the news anymore!’), as the exclaimee continues to scroll. But when we stop listening, we stop engaging. No wonder the rise of the far-right, the election of Trump and the results of Brexit were unforeseen by many a millenial. When we choose to ignore media that upsets us, we just curate to our own bias and become oblivious to what others are feeling. This is particularly important in the wake of 2016 and 2017, which internet memes have resoundingly agreed upon being the WORST years in the history of years (And in this day and age, memes are the only reliable sources.).
Me in 2016 vs me in 2017 https://t.co/DKQbWKvKdT—
Johnnie Martin (@TopNotchGaymer) November 18, 2017
Taking this on board, let’s resolve to expose ourselves to media. Read newspapers of your choosing (and occasionally pick up ones that aren’t), visit a variety of news sites (The Norwich Radical is an excellent start!), listen to podcasts on topics that interest you (The Feminist Frequency is great for up-to-date conversation on nerd culture) and, most importantly, engage in conversation with a variety of people. Yes, talking to your Nan about Brexit is uncomfortable but you can engage each other in more productive ways by talking about more local issues – maybe even attend local council events or debate nights together. Whatever you choose, this year let’s resolve to inform ourselves rather than shy away from events. It is only with knowledge that we can arm ourselves to affect change.
Following on from the disconnection of news, the rise in social media means that although we are more ‘social’ than ever, we now participate in community activities less. There are certain merits to being able to IM your housemate from the room over (‘stick the kettle on, yeah?’), but there is a noticeable difference in those seeking to participate in community activities. Activism has surely deviated from Corbyn’s student days of picket lines and protest signs – it is easier than ever to share a collective voice on the internet and disseminate information. But as the dawn of another year looms over us with an egomaniac still President of the United States and the United Kingdom charging forward with Brexit, let’s resolve to engage with our communities more.
Norwich has many an organisation worth your time or attention, many of them do not require sacrificing all your time, but can often be great activities to support. Norwich FoodCycle happens at the Quaker Meeting House every Friday evening, it provides a free hot meal for all those who turn up, creating a shared, warm environment for the City’s most vulnerable to enjoy a meal with other people not in their situation. Organisations such as the Norfolk and Suffolk Hunt Saboteurs always need volunteers, not just for hunts but also to help with events and talks (even just attending an event to listen to a talk is great!), or Norwich FarmShare offers a great way for people to volunteer their time in a community-led local food initiative (they also run ceilidh events to raise funds for the farm).
Participation can also include choosing to shop locally. Understandably we are not always able to give up time as it is a valuable commodity, usually hogged by our jobs and social commitments. However, the money we spend is a passive participation. By buying from large supermarkets and corporations we are funding their aims, effectively participating in their choice to undercut farmers, overpopulate livestock and price local businesses out of the market. By diverting our money to more local initiatives where feasible (buying ethically is a choice for those with the privilege to do so) we are able to participate in our local economy and have direct relationships with businesses. Some great local businesses around Norwich include Little Shop Of Vegans, Elm and, of course, the historic Norwich Marketplace. In fact for a great directory of local businesses to support grab a copy of the SHhhh Collective Beginner’s Guide to Norwich.
Stop Wasting Time
Put down the meaningless listicles, and advice columns telling you how to better your posture for the job you want to get, or the sorbet flavours to choose to meet the love of your life (and yes, even this article). If we are going to resolve to do better, as we do every year, let’s mean it and stop allowing ourselves to be distracted by the easily displayed prospects of yet another end of year list. Let’s empower ourselves to do better by looking forward rather than back. Last year was naff, so clear up those Tesco food trays, take down the tinsel and resolve to do better.
Featured image from Pixabay
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