Tablets, IPhones, laptops and televisions have achieved a kind of success that only Homo sapiens could admire. Western citizens (and most Asians too) now have the unparalleled capacity to know nothing about what’s going on around the clock. We live in the Age of Gullibility – and in that nightmare world, dinner parties can be Hell.
One of the abiding mysteries of the 21st century so far is why – when very little in the news media is reliable news – everyone feels compelled to Keep Up With the News.
I wonder if this has more in common with what we wrinklies used to call Keeping Up with the Jones’ in the 1950s. That’s to say, it’s more about fear of looking uninformed, rather than genuinely wanting to learn something.
Now that not news really has gone mobile, you can find out what isn’t really the news at all hours. This means that, by seven in the evening, you’ve been more manipulated, misinformed or just plain lied to than your parents managed in a year. I’m not sure I particularly regard this as any kind of progress.
Breaking news has become a phrase which, if uttered, can instantly stop people from doing something useful like dipping Len McCluskey in a vat of vinegar or inserting a dildo in Owen Jones’s nose. It’s quite an apt term, because the news media have been broken for years.
One could, for example, employ the term as if it were an episode in a long-running DIY series: “And in tonight’s episode of Breaking News, we’ll be showing you how to break any connection between Senator John McCain, murderous ISIS terrorists, and 103 missiles dropped on Damascus in the name of liberty. Later, there’s an amusing item on how to spot a real story about to break, and then smash it into a thousand pieces….”
Yes, the trick is to slip unnoticed into the herd of belief and then socialise by asserting that Jim Davidson is a pervert, Boris Johnson is just like us, some of my best friends are Islamists, and isn’t that Jeremy Hunt a well-spoken young man?
Of course, the message will vary according to which herd you’re in. John McDonnell walks about with a clenched fist in his herd, engagingly pointing out that “the fundamental inner crisis of Jewish capitalism means that Socialism’s time has come and I have never been an anti-Semite in my life”. In the same herd, Jeremy Corbyn whispers, “Have you seen my trick with the loaves and fishes? It’s brirriant”, and Owen Jones says, “It’s time to smash fascism again, just like I did in World War II”.
That’s the thing with social media: it’s word-of-mouth reconfigured as the Mob Gob. We should call them the Smeardia, because that is what they do: let’s face it – if they didn’t, the world’s intelligence community, business hucksters, image management agencies and politicians wouldn’t be manically tapping their insidious way into them 24/7.
There is, of course, a big difference between Heard News and Herd News: heard news offers us thirty-four half-baked concoctions of the Truth, whereas as herd news consists entirely of tonto fantasies about how Russia plans to push America off the planet because the Earth is – no really, it is – as flat as a pancake.
Being as ever ninety years behind the music, the Left still emphasises the need to deny and censor. There’s a first-rate piece about this from Brendan O’Neill at Spiked this morning, from which I offer this outstanding observation:
‘…..one of the most common arguments for the control of speech today [is] the idea that unfettered speech leads to the expression of prejudiced ideas and that this could damage the self-esteem of certain groups. It is such a racially paternalistic argument, setting up white liberals, essentially, as the defenders of black people from psychic harm….’
O’Neill is spot-on here. Labour under Corbyn do not trust the People to do the right thing, and so they the fountains of Absolute Truth must deny Islamic grooming gangs, violence in Antifa, and Trot influence within Momentum. We must pretend that Diane Abbott is actually fully clued-up, otherwise she will suffer the most appalling racial abuse: it therefore follows that she isn’t a lazy, unbriefed flibberty-gibbert at all.
You see how quickly passive censorship turns into active twisting of the Truth? The UK and US economic Right began many years ago with potty assertions about wealth trickling down and how 3% of obscenely rich crooks could fuel the economy, no problem. When this proved to be completely over there with the fairies and phlogiston, we quickly saw the spin of neutral news turning into good news. The American economy has now had seven false dawns since 2011. It is still dark out there, but to make it look like daylight, they’ve included QE in the gdp figures and used Zirp to keep the stock market buoyant. When this didn’t work, we got the jobless recovery…..surely the most Orwellian piffle in modern economic history.
On six separate occasions, George Osborne stood up with his bare face hanging round his ankles to say that Britain was repaying its debt – when the debt was getting bigger at an alarming rate. He skated blithely over a 20% drop in UK manufacturing output, and – like Trump – cut top-end tax rates. None of it worked.
So over time, the progression of “news” looks like this:
brainless assertion > invented proof > censorship > bent data
The Left puts censorship first because their brainless assertions have been around since 1840, and so by now everyone over the age of 35 has found them out. The Right, by contrast – and I include the EU in that definition, because it runs entirely for the benefit of unelected élites – censors by simply no longer making the data available (as with Draghi at the European Central Bank) or makes it up (as in Greece, Spain and Italy).
In the US, the data on inflation has been bent into a more reassuringly deflationary picture since at least 1980, and in the UK, both Brown and Osborne changed the ‘basket’ definitions to produce the same impression.
Thus we arrive where we are today: technology has convinced us that we’re better informed than ever, but the élites have countered this by drenching everyone in twisted “facts”. If we take my progression above and apply it to the two biggest Establishment news stories of the last month, the fit is near-perfect:
Skripal: this is the work of evil Russia > this is what Porton Down has proved > here’s a D-Notice for anyone who disagrees > here’s a second opinion from the OPCW that concurs
Assad/Syria: Assad lied about his chemical weapons > look, he’s launched a chemical attack > no news about on the ground opinions from Douma, thank you > our weapons completely destroyed his chemical facilities
Now turn to the Left Establishment’s swamping of the British media in relation to their Big Story:
Windrush: an entire generation of black people’s lives have been brutally destroyed > here’s a gobby MP and three victims to prove it > no we’re not going to talk numbers at all > the Government has been forced to prove us right
I went to a supper party here two weeks ago in which there was the Left, the Right, and me. (I think there was to have been a single woman too, but she didn’t turn up.)
It was a wise decision on her part. I sat for three hours listening to stereophonic claptrap in the form of a bizarre cacophony of Leftist naivety coming through one speaker, and Hard Right sock-it-to-’em-Boris guffaws blaring from the other. I have rarely been so self-restrained in my life, but after a few years of it, one realises how pointless it is to be, by turns, sarcastic, truculent, dismissive and downright rude on such occasions. It is, as they say, like trying to teach a pig to sing: you don’t get a song, and it just annoys the pig.
I have zero desire to keep up with ideologically altered “news”. It’s much more fun reading it quietly, going behind it, and then either lampooning its creators or listing all the reasons why they’re obviously using the anus as a means of communication. A case, one might say, of not so much breaking news as breaking wind….and malodorous wind at that.
Talking of breaking wind, I was going to continue mowing the field here today, because the weather forecast told me it’d be dry all day. As it is currently precipitating precipitately, I’m going to do the shopping instead.
At least with the weather forecast, you know where you stand: it always lets you down.
IABATO…..It’s All Bollocks And That’s Official