Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Gay WMD and Millennium Bugs

G. K. Chesterton imagined a future when someone would be able to communicate with everyone on earth simultaneously — but without anything to say.
Nick Davies is a journalist who reckons we’ve pretty much got there. Media production lines churn out bucketloads of synthetic fury pulled off the wires and reheated, surveys and scandals made up on the phone by Astroturf organisations, Trolls & Mr Angry rentaquotes. Resulting nutritional content makes Turkey Twizzlers seem Mighty Meaty.

What’s the alternative? Well you could have a news based profession with reporters given the time to get to know their contacts and check their stories, but that would take time and cost more than Fleet Street is willing to pay these days. Anyway why bother, when you can churn out sufficient crap to feed the trolls and hang the ads around? We need hard-headed journalists more than ever. Sadly, they don’t run the show any more.

Mr Davies gives plenty of chapter and verse. Remember the Millennium Bug? Planes were going to fall out of the sky. Life as we know it was going to grind to a halt. Accidental nukes would plunge us into a thousand year winter. There was a problem, but not of the sort or scale that filled the papers. In the event it all passed off harmlessly. Remember WMD? Western powers with the technology to read a newspaper from space somehow bought the pup that Iraq was bristling with WMD. Tony Blair told us Cyprus was twenty minutes from destruction. It was all, literally, a bloody lie — half a million innocent men, women and children died as a consequence, and thousands of troops. Mr Davies charts the sexing up of dodgy information that grew this bloody lie, and the way the media are led through the nose as asses are. He ends with a powerful chapter on “Mail Aggression” that shows exactly how the fount of the nation’s morals operates, plain brown envelopes and all. The nasty niff from the woodshed is Hypocrisy, friends.

If it ever strikes you that most of the stuff in the paper is spiteful, half baked, mass produced and pre-digested, it’s because, er, it is. That’s all the poor dears have the time to churn out. Anglican planes have been allegedly dropping out of the sky because of the Gay Bug for the past ten years now, and none has yet hit the ground. Gay WMD are pulsating in their silos twenty weeks away. Time will tell. Just keep your critical sense switched on, and don’t forget the Millennium Bug.
See also the Interesting discussion of hammed up news by Simon Barrow here.


Steve Hayes said...

Yes, isn't technology marvellous?

We can communicate with more people more easily than ever before, yet we have less and less to say. As someone once put it, we have communication without community.

When I got my first modem, nearly 20 years ago, i was excited by the possibilities. There might be nobody in my immediate neighbourhood who shared my interests, but this gadget might let me find someone who wanted to talk about them, even if they lived in Valparaiso or Vladivostok.

But somehow the promise never materialised.

I couldn't even manage to persuade clergy to us electronic communications to follow up things they'd discussed at conferences that gathered people at great expense.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Rather like yourself, Steve, I went through a short period in the mid nineties of sheer amazement that I could get comment in real time from real people the far side of the world whom I didn't know. It was the time of the OKC bombing, and a couple of mailing lists I was on exploded with some very raw and immediate reactions.

It all wore off soon enough!

Huw said...

I was using Ecunet back in the day of the OKC bombing. I remember how everyone blamed Muslims online. By Day 7 we had voices among the Anglicans on Ecunet that easily divided into "bomb them out of existence" and "lets give peace a chance". Then it turned out to be an American Good Old Boy and everything blew over. Oy.

Anglican planes have been allegedly dropping out of the sky for ten years now, and still haven’t hit the ground.

I think, in part, the planes were rumoured to fall beginning with Henry VIII, pardon the anachronism. In part, the millennium blew over because a lot of geeks did a lot of work. Yes, it was never as scary as the media made it out to be - what is? But I organised the teams that "Y2Ked" our college. It was tiresome work - that needed to be done.

I think the same will happen now: there is some work that needs to be done, but nothing is as scary as the Times or the Network wants us to believe.

Thanks be to God - it's still His church.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

I remember exactly the same phenomenon — lots of people thinking it was Muslims for up to a week, and then discovering it was a right wing White American and, er, not saying anything about their mistake...

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