We live in an age of unparalleled communication technology, we spend our lives blogging, tweeting, putting our every movement on Facebook; we can send pictures of our intimate moments around the world. Three hundred years ago under Elizabeth I of England a simple message would take weeks for everyone to know.
Last year the BBC celebrated 90 years of communicating news, the Radio enabled the news of the death of Kings, the invasions of armies and the defeat of Dictators almost as it happened. The Coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II (Parliament has passed legislation to say the monarch is known by the highest number, so Queen Elizabeth II is legally correct, even if you are Scottish!) proclaimed it as it happened.
During the War the BBC became a force for good, it became the voice not of the State but, in a way, became the voice of God, it spoke the truth, it was trusted, it was respected.
Today I watched the news of the Helicopter crash in London and even though just seeing the images (I was at work) it was sensational, a News Team was on site, raking over the story, looking for every angle, on the website almost begging for pictures, news, interviews and any morsel it could find. The BBC, and I suppose all the other news outlets, were sensationalising a Helicopter rather presenting the news, it was playing to the popular trend now of wanting to know, now, instant opinion, and worse than instant speculation. Speculation is now the news.
Whilst the BBC should be presenting the facts and not something slightly better than gossip, it is merely servicing our desire for instant information, our desire for intrusive nature, our need to know and feel that others lives belong to ourselves.
In this age of instant communication we do not have a ‘private life’ any-more we live it in the public and on the internet, in the ‘blogosphere’ and in our reality shows. The news has become just another reality show. Our insatiable need to pry into the lives of others is fed by the information trail we leave, showing ourselves and our opinions in the hope of, well, just in the hope.
There is too much information and what we need is to make sense of it.Due to a work related issue I did a quite search for my partner, I know his name obviously and his nationality, all basic information. True his name is reasonably uncommon, but I was surprised to find out the information that is there on a simple ‘Google Search’ – his online comments when he was a student, his attendance at the funeral of his Mother, and by association this English guy who was there, who it would not be unreasonable to suggest was his partner. Fortunately on Facebook we have both decided, independently, to use pseudonyms, but the problem is that all this information is searchable, and there for the entertainment of others.
A fundamental shift in how own our lives has taken place over the last 20 years, and this is reflected in the entertainment values, of the right to pry, incur, and invade what was once the ‘private’ – we readily invade these traditional private spheres and forget to protect our personal, readily sharing views and pictures with the world in the new relentless and remorseless need to receive validation from strangers.
We have all become information junkies, and we have all become slaves to the vox populi and watching the news of the Helicopter crash this morning I wait until it is my turn to contribute with a picture, a comment, or a uninformed guttural reaction.
We need more informed news, less opinion…