How does the UK Government expect citizens to stay informed?
If I were posting this to Reddit, I'd have to add a 'serious' caveat. It sounds like I'm taking the mick, but I assure you, I'm genuinely asking.
I'm trying to walk a fine line, between bubble life and staring at a news ticker for hours a day. I've suffered with anxiety in the past, and, under these conditions, find myself putting in significant work once more to keep it at bay. I'm also working full-time, from home. So I can't spend a lot of time staying informed because: a) that's time I need to spend at work, or with my young family, and b) were I to spend too much of my remaining leisure time doing so, I'd quickly exceed the upper bound of my coping skills, seriously affecting my sleep and overall productivity in the aforementioned activities.
So, how should I spend that bounded window of time? Do a daily refresh of GOV.UK? To be fair, it doesn't look too bad right now, considering the sham that was the transcript of the PM's broadcast a week ago Sunday. (No, I absolutely cannot bring myself to listen to the man. I heard his voice for the first time in ages on Brooker's Anti-viral Wipe, and it just confirmed the wisdom of that decision.) However, the horses have already fled the barn on this point, to some extent: I had what I'll call an episode on 15 March — yes, it was bad enough that I remember the date — largely triggered by the complete lack of advice for me on GOV.UK at the time. (I was much better once lockdown was introduced the following day. Clear instructions, finally.) Now, even looking at the site elevates my heart rate, and, frankly, I just don't want to go there daily, unless it's absolutely necessary, and I'm convinced that every such visit will be quickly and clearly fruitful. (I have no such conviction right now, let me make perfectly clear.)
The PM sent a letter. Should I await another? Why or why not? It was issued at significant cost. Was that because the message was so important? Post's reach is still king in 2020? The Government wants to be seen to be doing something? All of the above? I have no idea, but I'd imagine there are vulnerable people out there right now wondering why even their local council hasn't been keeping them up to date in print. And while we're on the subject, only 61% of people aged 65 and over access the Internet, from home, daily, according to the ONS. The thought of turning on the TV to listen to our bumbling PM — happily, reduced to staccato bursts of nonsense, punctuated by headbutts camera-ward, in what I've seen of his pre-recorded broadcasts — fills me with dread; I'm betting I'm not the only one, particularly amongst the older, vulnerable population who are rightly becoming more risk adverse, and less able to parse political bafflegab.
Where does that leave me? Mostly, slowly absorbing things through friends and family, in chats and on social media, with the occasional (unpleasant) jolt from my BBC News app. When did their front page become a public noticeboard? Is that where I should allocate my precious resource of controlled, calm, daily attention? It seems silly. They primarily report, over inform, yes? I appreciate they're probably stepping into a vacuum at the moment — an informal FAQ for the daily word salad from HMG — but you won't be surprised to learn that this does nothing for my anxiety levels; nothing good, anyway.
There are so many things that people are (rightly) calling attention to when it comes to the UK Government's response to COVID-19. This, however, is a failure that hits home every day with me, and so, framed cumulatively, is amongst the most egregious of the harm they continue to do, if for no other reason than it is eminently more solvable than so much of the mire their incompetence has left us in.