I don’t want to be the kind of person who thinks that other people are stupid. That would be arrogant, elitist and wrong. But sometimes, it’s really hard not to! There’s a phenomenon I’ve noticed a lot in the past few months, which I keep meaning to blog about but never got around to it.
At this moment in time, lots of really important things are going on in the world. The below is a selection of things I’m aware are happening now, based entirely on my own biased preferences as to what news items will grab my attention, and what the equally biased ‘meeja’ will have chosen to tell me about in the first place:
1) Edward Snowdon has been granted political asylum in Russia, prompting the cancellation of a planned meeting between Obama and Putin.
2) Nairobi airport was on fire, which could have a potentially catastrophic effect on trade and tourism for vast swathes of East Africa.
3) As conditions for the LGBT community in Russia worsen, the debate heats up about the best form of political protest against the upcoming sporting events to be hosted there.
4) A 3rd person has been arrested in connection with increasingly violent threats made on twitter, while there are reports that Jo Smith (the sister of the teenager Hannah Smith who tragically committed suicide, apparently as a result of online bullying) is now facing similar ‘trolling’.
5) Seven people, alleged to be members of al-Qaida, have been killed in Yemen by a US drone, following reports from US intelligence claiming ‘chatter’ had reached pre 9/11 levels.
6) The shady practice of ‘zero-hours’ contracts is facing further scrutiny as research indicates the true number of people employed under these contracts could be much higher than the official government figure.
7) Someone in UKIP said something racist.
However in spite of the availability of reasonably up to date coverage of each of the above stories, at 15.23 this afternoon, the ‘most read’ article on the BBC website was regarding the number of complaints about the latest Marmite advert.
I cannot speak to the veracity of the data which indicates what is ‘most read’ at any given time, but if true this is both rather depressing, but somehow also not that surprising. Perhaps it’s because these daft little ‘human interest’ stories are easier to understand than news items which involve complex geo-politics. Perhaps it’s because ‘proper’ news is generally so depressing. Perhaps I have massively underestimated the cultural significance of Marmite. But when people talk about a lack of political engagement, I can’t help but feel that this is relevant.
So, if anyone has the time to conduct some proper research in this area, that would be swell!