Monocolumn

A daily bulletin of news & opinion

7 January 2014

The clock struck midnight and like that dusty old record that skips, we’re back at the beginning. It’s 2014 and, as I pen these thoughts, the wind and rain is battering my window like some malicious percussive reminder that the time for yuletide paunches, cheese and port and lazy reading by the fire is over. Only the paunch remains but hopefully that will soon depart – along with the rain.

The start of a new year offers us the chance to rectify – albeit briefly, perhaps – the well-worn bad habits of the last year: the guilty drink, the dirty curry, the indulgent hollandaise sauce that seems the only appropriate addition to that steak you probably shouldn’t eat on a Tuesday… you get the idea.

So, here is my tuppence for the new year.

In line with a personal tradition whereby each January I treat myself to a leatherbound Moleskine diary, a calendar and a crate of books to read, my plan this year is to look at my phone less. A simple enough mountain to climb you might think but it’s not without its challenges. It’s not just the fact my other half has noted my kneejerk email check after snoozing the alarm in the morning (or the kneejerk email check last thing at night for that matter). In 2013 my phone became the closest thing I had to a comfort blanket. For example, arriving at a party I’d check my phone – any new messages? No. Put it away, Aled.

Thanks to the internet, your phone or tablet is a gateway to the news you need, the views you heed, your favourite writers and radio shows and access to general necessities. But this is a call for a bit of discretion in my consumption. I think of the hours wasted trawling through agglomerating websites – I’m not getting those hours back and what have I taken from them? Let’s dial down the constant online trawling and get on with our lives. For with the new year well underway there’s much promise and much to achieve, no matter how small and strange the resolution.

We are another year older. With this cheery thought in mind, I recall the wise words of the great Welsh poet and wordsmith Dylan Thomas:

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Aled John is a producer for Monocle 24.

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