July 22, 2010
Journalists are at the bottom of the trust heap, along with politicians in general and the government. Research carried out by Ipsos MORI in 2009 showed that 72% of the 2,000 adults asked ‘do you think these professionals tell the truth or porkies’, believed the humble media scribe to be a big-time bullshitter.
Surprised? I’m not, and here’s why…
I was amused, slightly shocked, but mostly amused by a tweet thrown up (vomited) by Sky News when the Goldtrail firm collapsed earlier last week:
Are you caught up in the Goldtrail travel firm collapse? Please email Sky News…
… so that we may exploit your misery for our own profit and gain bwahahahahahaaaaa!
Ok so they didn’t say that part, but it does make you wonder why it’s so important that journalists know everything that is happening everywhere.
In the case of Sky News, I guess it has something to do with beating the competition, mainly BBC News. I saw another tweet this week where there was an 11 minute gap between the BBC and Sky posting the same breaking news. No prizes for guessing who got to the pie first…
It still makes me think however, that journalists are some of the least trusted because they’re, well… leeches. As has been proven by Sky News. If I found myself stuck in a similar situation, I’m not sure how I’d react to being suddenly idolised for my misfortune.
For example: if I were involved in a catastrophic event, I’d most likely punch the first journalist who ran up to me and asked me what happened:
what the hell do you think has happened, buddy?! The gas main running under this street just exploded and blew half the soddin’ village into the adjacent county!!! *thump*
Perhaps my bemusement has something to do with the fact that I can’t always relate to sticky events or fully understand their magnitude at least until a week or so has passed. Perhaps it’s because I don’t complain immediately. There’s a certain amount of confrontation needed when you start moaning about something straight after it has occurred. I don’t like confrontation so I tend to avoid it like people avoid sitting next to the person on the train who looks like they’re carrying the Ebola virus.
The other thing that gets me about journalists, and it’s something I know is a huge and idiotic faux pas to make, is when something happens, good or bad, and the first thing out of their mouths is:
how do you feel?
The recipient of the question could have just been dragged from a six metre deep hole in the rubble after an earthquake, covered in dirt and cuts. They’re sobbing. Oh, I wonder how they feel… Can you imagine (yes, imagine here) what the England team would have said if they’d won the World Cup?
The point is, being asked how you feel when it’s evident how you’re feeling is liable to make you hate the idiot who asked you that question.
Journalists aren’t doing themselves any favours; between asking stupid questions, feeding off the misery of others, plugging the same stories of death, destruction and suffering over and over, writing things inaccurately (or just blatantly lying as Ange and Brad have found), and deeming the death of another soldier ‘breaking news’, they’re not giving us any reason to trust them. Or like them. Or believe a word they say.
I recently got back into reading the headlines. That fad lasted a couple of days because I got so depressed at what was being thrust at me over Twitter, I contemplated chaining a bunch of rocks to my waist and wading off into the river at high tide. I wonder if you could bring a claim against the media for perpetuating mental illness…
This world is a horrific place because
- we make it horrific through bad deeds, selfishness and ignorance
- we don’t perceive it to be anything other than awful, and that’s how we report it to be
- we can’t think positively long enough for it to take effect
- we give up
At the risk of sounding like a sentimental and maladjusted idealist, I’d like to see more reports on things that are good about life. And I don’t mean token human interest stories that are all gooey and have weird novelty value, like bald men doing a fun-run wearing custard pants to raise money for a duck crossing in their local village. I’ll tolerate stories of badgers and goldfish becoming life-long companions because that shows us that difference is cool, but isn’t so big a deal as to prevent genuine connections between the seemingly incompatible.
I’d like to see more news about successes in saving the planet, advances in medicine that don’t linger on the desperation for eternal youth/life, technology that works in harmony with nature instead of trying to replace it, groups of teenagers who are proving the myths wrong and contributing positively to their community.
Globalised news may keep us in the loop, but I think it stops us from living fuller lives, happier ones at that. Yes, good stories require challenges, adversity and even tragedy, but the British media has taken that bit way too far. I’m surprised they have any followers left. Or friends for that matter.
April 16, 2010
I’ve been thinking over the past few days about anonymity. Very few people are able to exercise this remarkable feat, even if they’re dead.
You could be one of the most unacknowledged people on the planet, and there would still be something on you, somewhere. For example: the never-contacted-before Envira Indians existing near the Peru border in Brazil who were photographed in May 2008. Never heard of them. Never knew they existed. But now there’s something on them.
I often look over the blogs I keep, my email, twitter, Facebook and think: why the hell am I exposing myself like this? I’ve no real desire for recognition, nor do I hold social networking particularly high in regard, but I often have something to say and that’s probably the only reason why I haven’t erased my identity from the internet. As far as is possible to erase.
Note: I wonder what will happen to all of these efforts when I’m dead…
I’ve got a fair bit to say sometimes but I’m aware that not many people take the time to listen and I don’t especially care. It only takes one person to listen and then it’s up to them to decide what to do with the things I’ve said.
I more or less have reasonable control of my presentation and representation in the material I directly publish about myself on the internet but I have virtually no control when having to relinquish my personal details to say, Amazon or my general practitioner.
Amazon pays attention to my browsing history and tempts me with similar items whilst the doctors don’t do much of anything except sit quietly with my details until another body contacts them and requests information. With my consent of course.
And this is where it begins to bug me.
Does consent even mean anything?
I have to fill in a CRB disclosure form, like most people, in order to breathe. I also need to apply for a passport to prove my identity beyond a shadow of a doubt. And it’s not even that now, is it? Not after recent events where it was shown that passports can be successfully made on a fraudulent and sophisticated basis.
I was under the impression that passports were to enable travel and free movement. Now they’re a fallible form of identity.
I have no choice but to give my consent for private information about me to be passed from one party to another. Sure, I can deny this consent but then that suspends my rights.
Perhaps I’m being far too cynical here but I can clearly see that by not disclosing my mental health to a potential employer, the said employer can, if they so wished, release me from my position with relative ease and no obligation to help or support me if I suddenly go off the deep end. I have to tell but I don’t really want to. Why?
Because sometimes, it’s nobody’s damned business.
This is the crux of my irritation. Why do so few have the right to know so much about my private life but I have no right to protect myself from them? Not without sacrificing my civil rights at the same time.
Disclosure isn’t for my own protection. It’s for interested parties to keep tabs on and exploit.
March 20, 2010
Catching a gnarly cold is one of the best ways to make you stop and take stock of your life; nothing says ‘chill out, man’ than the left side of your face feeling like it’s suffered a minor stroke because your sinuses are swollen shut.
Nothing brings you back down to earth than having to stay in bed. Nothing reminds you of your body like a full-blown germ invasion. Nothing makes you feel more alive than laying awake, until the sun rises, with a fever, aching and unable to breathe properly.
Then you have that really amazing moment where you take a shower after three days of festering, and you’re standing there under the scolding jets of water trying to remember the last time standing still, butt-naked, ever felt so good…
I’m unsure whether I’d be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and quite honestly, I don’t want to talk about it (just add another log to the fire…) but I recognise most of the symptoms: nightmares, flashbacks, avoidance, emotional numbing, being on-ball all the time, 24-7, look over my shoulder, just in case anything like that happens again…
Someone did say it to me before, asked me if I’ve ever had it investigated. I’ve never thought about it.
I don’t like pyscho-babble and so avoid it where I can: have you guessed one of the facets of this trauma?
I try to understand me and I hope somewhere along the way, it’ll help others experience that ‘it all fell into place so beautifully’ sensation for themselves.
I’m not diagnosed with PTSD and I personally don’t care about the labels here but it puts a name to what I want to share with all you lovely people: reliving bad things that have happened isn’t like getting upset over the death of your kitten Fluffles two years after they got squished by that huge SUV. On your birthday. Admittedly though, that’s pretty traumatic…
Reliving the bad things brings it all back – the guts flipping, the sweating, the swearing and shouting, the twitches and the smells and the overwhelming sensation of ‘get the hell away from me’. You don’t want to cry so you choke it back and then start to distract yourself in unusual ways – rhythmic body movements are so soothing, like turning your head one way, then the other.
They’re not even memories, they’re a constant stream of images like someone has gone and hammered a photo slide-show into the center of that bit in your brain where you visualize things. You know the place…
Nightmares are worse because you can’t push them away like you can the images you face in your waking day – in a nightmare, the bad things happen whether you like it or not and unlike a good dream, you never wake up when stuff gets nasty.
You have a hard time remembering the good things. Good things? There are a lot of those about and there are amazing people you know who remind you of them and make you feel free and alive and loved… but you can’t help feeling a bit silenced. Blank.
Reliving the bad things is not a choice. Nobody would put themselves through it if they knew they could let it go. But this is like getting stuck in a great black mass of living tar. You can pull all you want but for every tendril of hurt you manage to escape from, there will be at least three more wrapping themselves around you.
It takes patience and skilled breathing to be released for even the smallest amount of time.
I said to a friend that suffering is for the same people who believe sacrifice is necessary for happiness; suffering can make you strong but only in that you survive it. Even better if you can resist making it your identity.
It’s not always a matter of being able to let go; I can let go, with time especially, but that doesn’t mean it’ll let go of me.
August 17, 2009
Going out is a very complicated process for me. It’s not as easy as picking up my keys and wallet and then skipping off into the sunset. For one thing, I can’t drive at the moment so I have to arrange transport, which is usually my Dad because he’s normally willing and has nothing better to do and he’s also the person I trust the most to help me escape from any uncomfortable situations.
Situations that are the reason for why going out is so difficult. When I say ‘going out’, I mean taking a quick trip to a shopping area to grab or look at something Amazon is unable to adequately demonstrate to my unquenchable curiosity. Going out isn’t setting myself up for a night on the tiles – I hate that, it’s boring.
When ‘going out’ comes around, I have to take into consideration where I’m going, how long I’ll be and how fast I’m going to have to walk in order to get through the crowds as quickly as possible. I make a base assumption about where I’m going and always accommodate for the fact that there are going to be people everywhere, like cockroaches.
I have to calculate the odds that what I’m looking for is going to be there – usually, I talk myself into believing that it won’t be there, just to avoid disappointment and give me some added relief, like a sort of prize you get at the end of a competition to compensate you for the ordeal.
On top of that, I often concoct witty sentences and dramatic escapes to cover the probability of having to communicate with other people and it all goes terribly wrong; they might not understand me because I talk too fast or they might not know what it is that I’m looking for and then make a huge fuss and call the manager who will look at me like I’ve just emerged from a nearby swamp.
Before I’ve even stepped out of the house though, I have to make sure my satchel is packed with essential urban survival kit: keys, phone, money, water, headphones to drown out the world, sunglasses (even indoors and in bad weather) to make it easier to avoid eye contact, and a paper bag. For cases of hyperventilation.
Everything is executed with paranoid, maniacal precision when I go out. Everything that could possibly go against me is calculated and recalculated, even when I’m finally home and a few days have passed. I spend a lot of time thinking of what can go wrong and what could have gone wrong.
Of course the best plan, the one most easily executed is the one where I don’t go out at all.
August 12, 2009
I shouldn’t be given the responsibility of making decisions. Not because I can’t make a good one but because I often start to wonder if I’ve made the right one.
There are a myriad of possibilities when it comes to making decisions, so I don’t believe that there is such a thing as a ‘wrong decision’, just bad ones. Or silly ones. Risky?
You can tell when you’re starting to question your judgement because you obviously make your choice, time passes a little and then the memory of it might surface through conversation with a friend or through random synapses firing; you get that sudden tug in your stomach, similar to the one you get before you’re sick, followed by the feeling that you’re missing out on something.
I’ve made some hefty decisions in the past year and most have died out already. Except one: postponing my studies. And I’m reminded of it at least twice a week where I find myself worrying that I was a bit hasty, if choosing this path will mean that I end up in an undesirable position next year, if I’ll even be interested in going back or indeed if it’ll even be worthwhile.
There are pros and cons; if I go back next year I’ll be able to finish the qualification, maybe get my life back a little, spend some time with a friend, get out of the house, engage in academics again but it also means that I could end up finding that I’ve wasted my time (after finding that I didn’t get much from the first year) and about£2000.
If I don’t return, I get that money back. Yum. I’ve potentially not wasted my time, I don’t have to worry about being unwell at any point, struggling with work or travel, feeling ostracised etc. but it also means I would have dropped out of an MA course. I don’t like that part. And I could actually be missing out on something big.
I could be stressed out and tired all over again in September (by returning early) or I could spend my year out worrying myself sick.
Money or opportunity? In all likelihood, both are bound to lead to disappointment sooner or later.
July 23, 2009
1. You can feel eye sockets beginning to form in the back of your skull.
2. You need to pee – badly – but know that if you wait five minutes, your bladder will get so exhausted in telling you to pee, it’ll stopper itself up for the night.
3. The untidy bits of your home / room start to look quite reasonable.
4. Aching, you think it a good idea to watch that documentary, Ypres: Gas Hell, for the hundredth time because it just seems like a good idea. Remember, you’re tired.
5. Lists like this become increasingly nonsensical.
6. You’re not even sure if ‘nonsensicle’ is a word anymore.
7. The thought of using a dictionary to see if ‘nonsensical’ is a word makes you want to cry.
8. You simultaneously remember and forget that you have a spine.
9. You get jealous of your cat, laying there so peaceful and asleep.
10. You wake up your cat out of spite and then cry because you feel guilty.
11. You cry a lot.
12. You ramble.
13. It takes writing twelve points of utter, truthful rubbish to make you finally collapse into bed.
February 2, 2009
Y’know you get to a point in your very small life that makes you stop and evaluate your habits?
I’ve stopped eating dairy. Well, for the most; I still eat a small amount of olive spread as my Dad hates soya spread and I refuse to tip the weekly shopping budget just so I can scrape a measly bit of fake butter across my wholemeal bread. But for the most of it I don’t eat dairy anymore, purpose being that I was intolerant of it when I was born and have been picked on by stomach complaints ever since my parents thought it was a good idea to try me out on the cow stuff. Cramps, bloating, mild nausea and constipation doesn’t sound too bad until you combine them, so the decision to give up the following foods was a relief but also emotionally unbearable:
1. Chocolate … although I can have dark chocolate (more that 75% cocoa), but that gives me a headache.
2. Milk / butter / cream … I’ve not cried too much over this. Plus soya milk is lush.
3. Cheese … this is particularly hard as I’m a great fan of continental cheeses, especially when they’re accompanied by a bottle of red.
4. Biscuits … again, no real biggy as I don’t eat that many biccies. Not a biccie kinda woman.
5. Cakes … this is a bit of an issue, particularly when said cake-age is combined with chocolate.
6. Pizza … the thought of not being able to eat pizza depresses me beyond god-like understanding. Nothing beats a night in with a crappy horror film with a massive pepperoni or vegetable pizza.
7. Yogurt … luckily I’ve found a good Alpro substitute.
8. Crisps … only a problem if you bring popcorn under this banner.
9. Ice cream / custard / desserts … my pudding options are severely limited.
10. Anything else that has a significant amounts of dairy or dairy derivatives in it.
I could go back to eating these things, but I have felt so (digestively) better since cutting these things out of my diet, I don’t think I want to go back to them. Ok, maybe I’d cripple myself for a few slices of pizza, but on the whole (and as long as you discount anxiety related digestive complaints) my gut is pretty happy.
So where’s the problem? Why the mourning nostalgia?
My alternatives consist of fresh fruit and veg. I snack on raisins, oranges, carrots. I cook dairy-free muffins that I call ‘Chaos Cakes’ on a regular basis to enjoy something warm, spongy and relatively chocolatey. Instead of chips, I eat rice; I indulge in humous in wholemeal pitta with fresh tomato and cucumber; my dessert after enjoying an extremely small portioned Sunday roast (smaller than what my youngest nephew eats…) consists of a banana and a Chaos Cake.
I’m stuffing raisins in my mouth as I type.
I’m sensing you’re impressed in some way and maybe wondering why I’m so distressed at this good, healthy change in my diet. I’ll tell you why.
At least I’m losing weight…