Hey, been a while. What’s been in the news recently? Not much really. Oh, there was that one thing. Someone died? No, killed, that was it, someone got killed. Some guy, I want to say somebody famous…
The news trickled through nearly a week ago now, slowly snaking its way down the usual mediums and in this day and age the usual mediums means Twitter. While the rest of the world and its news organisations sat dumbly on their hands social networking sites were beginning to buzz with actual news for once. Doing the one thing that doesn’t make you want to hate Twitter, real news was being broken in real time without the delays for spin and colourful euphemistic language to be added. It was a very modern piece of breaking news and garnered a very modern reaction.
The Rock knew about it before anyone (obviously), it has spawned a meme and facts and evidence were being demanded before anchors had time to stop their wigs from spinning. The speed at which we receive breaking news is scary. The amount of time between an event actually occurring and the general populace knowing about it has never been smaller. It’s probably understandable then, what with demands made for analysis before anyone can properly comprehend it all, that the reactions tend to be… well stupid. Understandable but not excusable.
The outpouring of genuine, unfettered elation at the demise of Osama Bin Laden was to some extent disturbing. Far beyond the expected chants of USA! and the like, people across the world thought it appropriate to react to this world-changing news by taking to the internet and acting like wooping gibbons. JUSTICE was roared about, ROT IN HELL was electronically shouted (a sentiment shared by at least one newspaper), Facebook groups were set up and joined in record time to let the world know that you question Bin Laden’s intimacy with a certain orifice belonging to a camel, that he had been inexplicably wearing a towel or a rag this whole time, that he was worse than Satan himself. The world needed to know, in sickening detail, exactly what you personally hoped had happened to him in his final hours and the afterlife. In short, for roughly the 2000th time even this year, the world had gone mad, lost its ability to self-censor and collectively made us look like ignorant inbreds to any sentient life forms that may be watching from far off in space with one green finger hovering over the exterminate button presumably.
For once the violent death of a man was universally held as fantastic news. The internet descended into bloodlust like modern-day bear baiting (an accusation also leveled at Jeremy Kyle, perhaps the only man to reviled as widely as Bin Laden) and nobody thought this was troubling or at least a little weird.
And now for the disclaimers: If any man deserved to die Bin Laden would most likely top anybody’s list, and that comes from a bleeding-heart liberal pussy. You don’t get to be that high up on the list of America’s Most Wanted for no good reason and it’s a good thing he was finally found and put down. I, personally, just don’t think we need to act quite so pleased with ourselves for doing it. If I was to get on my high horse I would repeat those now famous words about not celebrating another man’s death, ‘not even my enemy’ but we’re beyond that.
The problem isn’t that we’re all idiots. Really that’s not it. Rather the problem seems to come from the media constantly demanding we ‘have our say’. Here is an extremely complex problem that has been in the news today; tell us what you think, go online, text this number, call in, do it now! Now! Actually don’t. How can anyone form an opinion worth discussing in the 2-3 minutes a news piece takes to broadcast? Nobody ever put together an argument for a debate inside 3 minutes and no matter how quickly they come out all the editorials and columns you read on the same subject have gone through editors but before that the writer actually thought about what they wanted to say. By demanding the audience lets us all know what they think the media encourages the kind of knee-jerk, unrefined thinking that is poison to a worthy debate. And the only people who ever do respond immediately are reactionary morons on the far ends of the political scales, perpetuating the idea that the opinions that flow forth like so much effluent from a broken septic tank are normal.
But the news has made it easy for you to ‘have your say’ by simply boiling down the stories of the day to simple good vs evil fairytales. The handsome Prince got married to a nice normal multi-millionaire and the big bad guy was killed off. Hurray! This isn’t only irritating, it’s dangerous and irresponsible. The world does not exist in certainties, it is not black and white. It’s more a murky shade of grey or probably beige. Every major crisis that has an impact on our world has to be stewed over for ages by very smart people before any sort of conclusion or comprehension can be formed. They can’t be deciphered by the man in the street for a nice, succinct voxpop seconds after having a microphone thrust into his face, it can’t be summarised perfectly in under 140 characters on Twitter and it certainly won’t benefit from you having your fucking say on the six ‘o’ clock news.
We are not experts, we do not have all the answers, we will never know everything. It isn’t a weakness to admit it, it’s just the facts. The fast as hell dissemination of facts and news is only a good thing if we give ourselves enough time to contemplate them before we fire up Facebook and shout our uninformed opinions into cyberspace. This pace can’t be good for us, maybe we all just need to slow down. Failure to do so just makes our reactions the equivalent of endless Rebecca Black parody videos, a plague of so much cruelty and bloody-mindedness I could have written a whole blog entry on that alone. Except that even the day after that song was released it would have been too late to write about it.
Speed kills. So does idiocy. We need to slow down and smarten up.