Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Real Life

Actually I'm not going to talk about that. Things are a bit depressing around here for a number of reasons, all pretty much out of my control - and I'm not just talking about the endless doom and gloom of the on-going world economic crisis and the drought which is afflicting much of the Earth and much else. Somehow all this seems to have wormed into our psyches over the past year or so weighing us all down.

It shows in all sorts of ways. People cut back on their spending and that means jobs and businesses go. The endless array of advertising of cut price sales is pervasive. It all builds up in our minds, increment by increment. I suspect the world was easier to live in when we didn't have such fast mass communication. Back then we would hear about a drought in Africa - one we could do nothing about - when it was nearly over or when nations rattled sabres at one another or a civil war broke out - the bulk of the fighting would have been finished before we knew about it. Now the TV news and other news media is full of images of death and destruction or "experts" telling us what these images mean. We have twenty four hour news channels for goodness sake and because they don't cover the uplifting and heart-warming we get the horrors played over and over again.

When the bombings occurred in London in 2005 Virgo and her friends were travelling in the UK and as far as I knew were in London. I was desperate to know what was going on when I couldn't contact them. As it turned out they had gone to Ireland for a few days and got back to the hostel where they were staying - in Tavistock Square not far from where the bus was bombed - that evening. Anxious for any snippet of news I made the mistake of leaving the TV on. The same horrific images were repeated in a loop, over and over again, for the best part of a day. Why? Yes, not everyone would have seen the first coverage. Yes, there would have been others like me out there who wanted or needed to know what was happening. But why not update hourly? A summary with any new information that had come out would have been much more useful to those of us who had a genuine need to know what was happening.

It seems to me that there's a perceived need for all headline news to be dramatic. It has to tug at the heart or shock in some way and if that isn't happening it's a failure. That's why the riots in Sydney dominated the news last week, why we see ever more horrific images from Syria and why the riots in Pakistan came ahead of other news items. It's why the headlines about the various financial crises fix on what has gone wrong, what will go wrong - even if no-one really knows what that might be.

In a similar albeit smaller scale there have been several shark attack related deaths around our coast. They are terrible things but now people are running scared. There are calls for culls and fenced beaches and every time the hysteria dies down it gets stoked again. The more it's built up the more afraid people become and fear does not make for good decisions.

Let's see more balance in news reporting. All these things are important but they are only part of what is happening around the world. Let's see more of the good news and the other events that shape our lives and society.

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