Archive | January, 2013

Which came first, the Press or the Reader? | Scott Steele

25 Jan

Imagine tomorrow you walk into your local newsagents, you’re met with two headlines;

JOHN TERRY DRY HUMPS MIDGET

and

50%  SCOTTISH SCHOOLCHILDREN MALNOURISHED

Which of these would you regard as the most important? Which subject would readers regard as a huge story? To me it seems absurd to think the former would attract the attention of anybody before the latter.  Unfortunately newspapers (a term I use loosely) have become passive tools of entertainment, miles away from the informative resource of factual information that they were surely intended for.

Why has journalism turned into a vulture ridden industry where catching someone with their pants down is celebrated whilst global atrocities are passed over as though fictional?  How many people immediately turn the newspaper over to the back page to see which overpaid, moronic sports star has chucked the dummy out the pram, or flick straight to Page 3 to check if they share their star sign with Mercedes, 19 from Essex?

Journalists would argue that they chase stories and address issues that ‘the people’ want to read.  Are we, the general public, to blame for the comic style of the modern press?  Do we really wish to fill our heads with titter tatter gossip that might as well be sourced from the back of a toilet cubicle door?  Is this the era where our lives are so engulfed with personal importance that we wish to only be disturbed with interesting trivia that is instantly gratifying?  Lets us not be an ignorant generation!

It is clear that the mega-rich tabloid owners benefit greatly from the mass consumption of nonsense they pass out.  The Western Governments however, are even greater beneficiaries of the publics hunger for mass instant scandal.  Everyday politics lays dull and numb compared to viral Islamophobia and reproductive reality TV.  Referendums and austerity measures do not create buzz; sex and hatred sells.  Therefore the political powers can capitalise on the nation’s disinterest and continue to spread inequality and injustice.

Avoid tabloids; do we need the press more than they need us?!  With depleting newspaper sales due to the instant news updates availale at the touch of a button, the hunger for edgy stories has become so desperate that backing a story with substance has become a secondary priority.  I am in no way implying that we shouldn’t allow ourselves to enjoy the lighter side of life; however when the only information you absorb is nonsense you are in danger of becoming desensitised to matters of importance.

On What Matters: The Indigestion of Modern Information | Nicky Patterson

19 Jan

This enormous tide of multi-platform journalism, blogging, and social comment is considerably overwhelming.

It is now 2013 and the dawn of open information, debate and democracy is in fact choking true social, political and economic progress.  The internet has no doubt, as Castells identified in 1996, enabled the “Networked Society”, as much to the benefit of Internationalist sensibilities, as to the detriment of both individual and collective endeavour.  What I mean by this is that we, in the Minority World at least – though surely beyond to a greater extent – , are enduring a gluttony of information that is over-burdening our digestive system: this over-indulgence is both intoxicating and seriously damaging to our societal physiology.

I imagine today’s common and collective organic on-line discourse to be like collecting one million clever souls in one enormous church hall, and then obliging them all at once to begin their enfetished soap-box rhetoric, either meant as inspiration, response, or reaction, well-meaning or no, but all none-the-less delivered at such a calamitous din (with all the echoes and reverberations expected of a church with an enormous capacity), and yet all recorded by but a single microphone: the end user, who is at once marvelled, encouraged, inspired, enraged, and subdued.

More tragically this often leads to the neutering of the end-user’s emotional and intentional engagement, which benefits none but the classes of power.

This is self-afflicted confusion, division and alienation: we are becoming a society of outspoken hermits.

There seems to me to be a conundrum represented by perpetual discourse that presents us, as contestants, with clues as to what might be important; what absolutely is important; what is evidence of what might be, or absolutely be, important; as well as the trivial, the gossip, and the humorous.  We, the contestants, endlessly play the game endeavouring to sort the might-bes from the absolutes and then make some distinct resolutions toward action, which are then themselves trumped by some new issue of urgency; itself awaiting usurpation.  In other words, despite the evident collaboration of intent achieved through social-media as seen in the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement (and we should accept the former as being successful to an extent, while the latter was impressive yet – though ongoing – has not achieved a definitive fundamental change), nothing of any great significance is happening.  Of course a great many localised projects have been launched and a great many social ills have been discussed, with perhaps some decrease in false consciousness and subsequent increase in awareness, but even with this leviathan of discourse, truth, and connectivity under the control of the people, we still wake each morning to the triumphalist marching songs of neo-liberalism, ecological suicide, sham-democracy, and genocidal cultural hegemony.

And even if we enjoy a lie-in, they are still marching in the afternoon… and in the evening.  In fact the sun never sets on the empire of inequality.

So let us be far more discerning in what we read, write and listen to.  We know that our political systems have hitherto mocked our collective functional impotency, so let us desist from indulging these pseudo-elected clowns with our attentions: they collectively represent a system: it is the system that is corrupt: let us address the system: ignore the menial daily inadequacies – they waste our eyes, our ears, our mouths, fingers, hearts and minds.

We want for collective direction and action: together we can surely devise a strategy to convene, plan, and revolutionise our societies?

The priority for you may be some noble pursuit: English revolution; American revolution; Equality for All…

For me, as a citizen of Glasgow, my main priority is securing a Yes vote in the 2014 Independence Referendum: separation from the dysfunctional machinations and hegemony of Westminster.  In this I see us in Scotland being able to break a workable rock from the quarry of the Minority World, and demonstrate (along with our Nordic cousins) how human beings can live, and give, and love, without exploitation of this planet or our sisters and brothers who inhabit it.

Twitter: @NickyPatterson

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