War, death, famine, murder, earthquake, hurricane, crisis, death, war, sex, crisis, tsunami, murder, war, death. I am a grown adult and I live in fear of the television. I used to enjoy turning on the tv at ten o’clock to watch the news. I used to feel that there was some value in staying up to date. The trouble is nowadays, after 30 minutes of sheer misery I feel my will to live ebb away. I now try to avoid the news like you try to avoid the most depressing person you know at a party.
It’s apparent that there is one constant in the universe and that is war. No news broadcast is complete without pictures of men in uniforms firing tinny sounding guns and the prerequisite upper-middle class toss bag standing in a flak jacket with mic in hand talking about how the fighting has ‘flared up’ somewhere. As a matter of fact fighting never flares up, it is always there if the damn country is at war. Your Grandmother’s arthritis or her hemorrhoids can flare up but fighting most definitely does not. Meanwhile they provide you with the latest information about the statesman/madman/General who is either on the run or making television broadcasts which make them look like loons. By journalism law they have to close with a statement where they suppose that the tyrant/dictator/leader hasn’t got long left and the war will be over soon. And they are right as it is over until the next time you switch on the news.
Another thing which gets my goat is the over use of the word ‘tragedy’. To me if something is truly tragic it is something that could have been avoided. A freak occurrence if you will. Natural disasters are deeply distressing, but they are a fact of life. The loss of life caused by an Earthquake is in part caused by the fact that we as a race have built dwellings over Tectonic plates. The loss of life caused by war is a result of human stupidity. In an average news broadcast you will hear the word tragedy or tragic regarding any topic ranging of an air crash to Wayne Rooney missing a penalty for England.
Crisis is another of these overused words. If the news is to be believed everywhere is in one kind of crisis or another. Whether it be economic, political, socio-economic, geo-political, financial, existential or deferential. It appears that there are no longer any rules as to what actually constitutes a crisis. You can even be crisis-stricken which makes it sound somewhat similar to rickets. The amount of time given to discussing the financial crisis as if it is an unexplained phenomena is astonishing. The fact that some people have spent more money than they have earned is quite bloody understandable to the average Joe as every human being has credit card bills and bank loans and mortgages. We do not need to hear the same long-winded arguments involving as many acronyms as possible in a blatant attempt to ensure that the viewer passes out through boredom. I don’t care what the G8 or 7 think. I don’t care what the European Commission of Agricultural Arm Wrestling needs a bail out, a bail in or a shakedown. I don’t care what’s happening with the FTSE index because it’s not even a word. And honestly the next time I hear the word ‘recession’ I shall attempt to swallow my television.
When I was younger I always enjoyed watching the local news stations more. They still droned on in newsreader monotone about quite depressing events but there was always the fact that I knew what was coming. The very last story would be about the remarkable recovery of Dolly the Breakdancing sheep whose leg had healed with the help of a famous donator and now was going to be the subject of a reality tv program, win the lottery and get the chance to record a segment for comic relief in Africa. Perhaps not all of that is true but the point is there was always that final story to lift the gloom. That’s my hope. That one day the news stations out there will return to trying to lift us when they leave us. Rather than leave us stewing over the fact that this piece of rock we live on is only getting worse.