This is carajillo, the best coffee in the world, Valencia, Spain
Every morning, I make myself a cup of coffee, return to bed, open my iPad and check the news on BBC. Then I move on to The Guardian and sometimes I look at Gazeta Wyborcza, the main Polish daily. It is as much my morning ritual as a harmless addiction, probably shared by many (many!) others in the world. But I am beginning to wonder about the adjective “harmless” that I have so hastily and indifferently tagged on to my news fixation.
This is because I have finally decided to acknowledge my total disgust with the media. Well, the feeling is not new, of course, it’s been lurking in the remote(r) recesses of my mind for a very long time. But, as of today, I have allowed it to emerge in its full abhorrent glory and therefore have a need to rationalise and justify it.
At the risk of stating the obvious, the media display an insistent and unquenchable thirst for the news, as each channel, website, newspaper and digital social platform try to outdo each other in how fast they can report events. Combined with our growing desensitisation to entertainment and the resulting lowering of the mass boredom threshold, that compels them to report any (and I mean, ANY) insignificant, preposterous, idiotic, ridiculous, absurd event or any such statement made by any such nonentity. Then it travels all over the world at cyber-speed and people reflexively take it as bigger than it is – because it’s on the news – so it must be newsworthy. Of course, other media obligingly re-report it, however inconsequential, pointless or irrelevant it may be. And so it goes.
But as we read/see it, the brain begins to absorb and process it, generating an inevitable reaction, either positive or, more likely, negative. So, we may become indignant, enraged, repulsed, or scared. Quickly, we jump to conclusions, we inform friends and family, ultimately, we may even go out in the streets and protest against it… And the news grows, perpetuates itself. The media now have to continue reporting because the initially minor, local episode in a provincial town or village in a faraway country has become a ‘global’ development, although, if left to its own devices, it may have died a natural death of triviality.
Yes, of course, this may bring about recognition of serious issues and give rise to greater justice. But it can also result in giving voice, shape and identity to something undeserving of any such attributes – like some groups (gradually renamed “organisations”), which originally were nothing but a bunch of unwashed, unshaven and uneducated, murderous lunatics, but acquired “legitimacy” through relentless reporting and rewriting and rebranding their “narratives” (oh, yes). There is a lot to be gained from this – fame, money, power… And both sides stand to reap profits, the reporting one and the one being reported on.
That said, I will continue with my daily ritual, cognizant of the potential harm it can cause to my sanity. But, I must admit that my own curiosity is as insatiable as is the media’s desire to satisfy it and be paid handsomely in return. Thankfully, I get the news for free, but should my circumstances change, I’d eagerly pay my TV and radio licence, and my subscription to a cable packet, and my broadband fees just to keep abreast of any developments.
In the end, what brought on this rant was of course insignificant and stupid, as well as outdated – a piece of rather laughable, absurd, no-newsy news from 2008, mistakenly included on, and swiftly removed from, today’s BBC website. However, the article made me explode with indignation. And then I realised how easily hatred and prejudice sustain themselves if not checked by rational thought. I will try to nurture my own rationality and approach the news with greater caution, but still can’t help blaming the media for their tendency to trade sense for sensation.
P.S. While on the topic of curiosity and sensation, the disturbing issue of our mind’s upper boundary for permissible belief should also be discussed. At some point.