The recent swine flu hysteria has made me realise something.
For some time now (I would guess several months) I have not watched any news on television, nor listened to the news on the radio and not read any newspapers. This has made me blissfully ignorant of all that’s going on in the world.
I haven’t purposefully shut myself away from the news, it’s just that I never read newspapers (not interested in celebrity gossip), don’t watch TV except for programmes I specifically want to watch, and I have found myself listening less and less to the radio (which is a shame).
So my ignorance to the world was entirely serendipitous.
I did read a newspaper.
Swine flu. We’re all doomed. We’re all going to die. Again (in the same way we were all going to cark it over bird flu, SARS, mad cow disease, meningitis, AIDS etc).
What a miserable sodding format the media is.
I realised how they hawk anxiety and sensationalism. I suppose we all know that anyway, but when you’ve been away from it for a while and take a look you realise just how insidious it all is. You realise that we don’t ignore the commodity of fear so much as synthesise it, we absorb it into ourselves and ‘learn’ to live with it.
For that reason I have decided to actively avoid ‘news’ from now on. There’s a good few reasons for this. Firstly, there’s no point in worrying about something you can do nothing about. Secondly, the propagation of fear and anxiety is inherently immoral and cruel (I was happy in my ignorance, and the media only brought me down). Thirdly, and this one is closely tied to point #2, it strikes me that this anxiety trade is designed to curtail our freedoms. I’ll expand on that.
It is only natural that when difficulties come our way that we would want to find a way of eliminating those difficulties. And when we are faced with a threat, such as an invisible disease that we as ordinary members of the public can neither see, understand nor do anything about, we have to look to other forces to protect us. We turn to the government, to agencies, to organisations. That is, we give up our independence and accept we are incapable of looking after ourselves and go, like little children, to hide in the skirt folds of our ‘maternal’ protector. The very same protector who has fed us the fear. Whether it’s a disease that will kill us all or mad terrorists trying to blow us all up, you have to wonder who benefits most from spreading this fear.
I’ve never really seen the point of violent revolution. It seldom gets anywhere. Therefore, the only revolution I would advocate is to take control of ourselves by refusing to listen to the news, refusing to read the papers, to think for ourselves, to ignore this trade in fear and anxiety and to get back our freedom.