Shrinking world…

The world shrinks every day, in more ways than one, but as a by-product of our shirking world, many people feel less safe. They think that the world is getting more dangerous, more bad things are happening, people are nastier, there is more violence, more horror, more death and destruction, and the world is a worse place than it has ever been… Yet this is an illusion we have brought upon ourselves.

When I was a child, back in that other world, we called the 1970’s, we have a 30-minute news program on the TV every night. Just that, 30 minutes at 6’oclock, then thirty more at 9, or 10 if you watched the other channel. There were only three channels btw, and they did not broadcast 24 hours a day,  BBC2 was mostly just the test-card girl… For most of us, she was still in black and white…

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The other sources of news were the radio and newspapers. So there was only so much News to go round, basically, you got as much news as you could squeeze into 30 minutes on the TV and the broadsheets. That’s if you wanted it, it was easy to just blank it out and go news free for days on end. Most of the time we didn’t know what was going on outside the UK, and quite often we had sod all idea what was going on inside it. A war in Africa might make the news once a fortnight and only then if someone really important visited the area like the pope or the foreign secretary, or a former Beatle… Even then unless you actually sought out the news, you would probably only hear about these things third hand at best… If you wanted to block it out the world, you could, without seeming strange, or being considered odd in any way, because most people didn’t really care much about the news they never got. Times were grim, but no one bothered to tell us times were grim, so we didn’t worry overly much about it.

Fast forward to a different world. 24-hour news channels, channels mind, not just one of them, but an endless selection.  And in case you miss the news itself, Twitter, Facebook, the whole social media explosion will repeat it to you. The news is constant, and the bad News is the News people pay attention to. You can’t avoid it, it’s in your face, and we interact with it on a level that has never been seen before. In the 1970’s you might discuss the news down the pub (okay in the playground in my case and not very often at that) if you were angry about something, and I mean really angry about something, you might write to a newspaper, or That’s Life… Now if you wish to vent your spleen, and boy do we enjoy a good spleen-venting, we can go online and broadcast our inner nazi to the world… And we do…

(for Americans and other stranger forms of life, ‘That’s Life was a 1970’s consumer rights program that championed the small guy and got dogs to say sausages. It was a bit like a poor mans U-Tube once a week for five minutes. With the same damn dog every time )

The world is not a more dangerous place than it was in the 1970’s. People are not nastier. There are not more paedophiles, rapists, murders, killers and hate spewing nazis in the world. There aren’t more wars, disasters and death. (okay maybe more environmental disasters, I am no global warming sceptic.) The world, in general, is not a worse place.  In fact, the opposite is true. Successive generations are ever more liberal-minded, less racist, less homophobic, more accepting of difference. We have just let ourselves be swamped by it all.

We have given voice to the worst of us, let the worst of the world come to our door and then opened ourselves up to it. It is the price of the shrinking world, one we all pay and while it nice to look back on the days before the internet and 24-hour news revolutions we need to remember the world was just as much of a shite pond then. Indeed it was a damn sight worse, we just didn’t know it…

And perhaps, once in a while, put down the screens, turn off the TV and just let the madness of it all stop for a moment…

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