I failed to write anything useful during the election campaign. Then I failed to write anything useful afterwards. 44,000 words wasted, just so. Turns out, here’s the meagre bite I have to write about it…
Before anything else, we must bring down the print media barons and their editors, by (almost) any means necessary. Now.
Election day morning, hours before the result, at a point when I was still more optimistic than most of my friends, I walked around in dizzy dismay at the weight of bias and bile in newspaper headlines, bellowing out at voters from display boards that the only safe course was to vote Conservative. Newspaper front pages are constant, imposed and ubiquitous.
It’s not like it was new. We’ve lived with it for decades. They reduce us to absurdity, promote our worst nature, normalise hatred and fear, they divide and rule. In bed with the worst of our political class; making pacts; screwing each other literally and figuratively; fighting private squabbles, shifting allegiances with police, church, state and big business, with us as collateral. But you know this.
Since May, each time an issue is raised online by activists, my cynicism outguns my engagement. ‘Echo chamber!’ I think, over and over again. And I love(d) social media activism. Thinking about it makes me feel fucking embarrassed.
Fewer and fewer people buy papers. None of us get our knowledge of the world from them anymore. They’re not essential, nor relevant. So they build websites and re-focus on celebrity gossip, bodies to gawp at, lives in the mire and pay-per-click. And many left-liberal progressives like me, who sincerely think we ‘radically’ oppose that establishment, in truth actively prop up their business model by clicking through, distributing their articles, contributing, discussing, oxygenating their fake controversies. Continuing to perceive them as the communication normality. Gifting them the debate.
Link to a piece? Instantly adds value for advertisers. We know it, yet we still do it, like addicts for whom that moment of sharing is more essential than the whole ruined landscape around us. Why do ‘our’ voices battling to face down the tidal bore of kleptocratic conservatism need to use establishment print media at all, to share thought? It’s precisely to try to climb out of that echo chamber. Yet the month of May told us with a punch to the face that it doesn’t work in the current system. The harm it does, perpetuating that norm, is worse.
I also keep thinking: right now the barons and the editors are very vulnerable.