On telling the truth vs engineering angles

This evening, as I ruminated in a Twitter-like haze (better than an alcohol-ridden one anyhow), I fairly humbly tweeted the following:

I wish the trade of journalism involved telling the truth before engineering an angle. #justobservin

I’ve never worked professionally as a journalist – but then perhaps that’s what attracted me to blogging in the first place.  During my eye-opening experiences with mental ill health, I was attracted to the underbelly of humanity – especially that area of life which surrounded the process of telling lies to voters about war.  I was fascinated by how journalists – good men and women all, I’m sure – became involved and wrapped up in so many half-truths that reality was no longer the consideration on the table.  As bankers did less than a decade afterwards, so journalists and their editors both fell into the terrible trap of wanting to be so different and therefore quite remarkable, instead of – simply – wanting to tell and do the truth.

To be honest, the desire – essentially – to be original above all is the curse of humanity.  It drives us – yes, me too, just like you and you – to say the daftest things on occasions.  We want to go that bit further because that is what being read demands of us.  If we say what we believe is the truth, this may not be enough to satisfy the thirst and hunger of those readers with so much choice out there: a thirst for the latest and firstest over the lasting on the one hand, and a personal reaffirmation of dearly-held prejudices on the other.  Any writer who does not finally see it their responsibility to kow-tow to all that will become a writer who writes particularly for him- or herself quite before the audience which ends up crying foul.

Twitter, its failings, our own too, are but a symptom.  The rot set in with the introduction of 24-hour rolling news channels.  Without a proper time to reflect, and to learn to properly value the skill of reflection, it is hardly surprising we get the awful sociopolitical environment we’re now living.  I would even venture to say that this government, a government I’ve berated enough in the recent past, is not primarily to blame for this state of affairs.  We simply have politicians on all sides of the political pyramid, battling to make themselves heard when no one really cares to listen – and when all prefer, governed and governors both, to shout down the megaphone.

Yes, it is true.  Those who shout loudest have triumphed over us all.  Not because their views are getting pride of place on the political mantelpiece but for another, quite different, reason: we too have learnt that the way to do latterday business is to shout just as loud as our voices can bear in the vain and idiotic hope that something will constructively stick.

Careful and considered examination of matters to hand?  When, really, of late, did that ever happen?  Even in matters as serious as immoral tax avoidance by popular corporations on industrial scales deserves it would seem the open scorn and jeering of our elected representatives.

Everything – our politicians, our software, our communities, our neighbourly habits – has crept down to the level of the medieval stocks of old.  You think the problem is Twitter and those “nuke ’em” buttons that destroy reputations and debate in a second’s worth of virtual fission?  You’re sadly mistaken.  Whilst Twitter and its like will slowly be brought under control, the madness that discards the greatest human customs of reflecting on issues of the day with care, thought, perception and gentle understanding … well, it’s clear where it’s now leading us – and it’s clear that our good old friend Twitter is but a stepping-stone on a journey to hell.

I started out by bemoaning the pursuit of angles over the pursuit of truth.  To want to differentiate oneself from another can be a noble exercise, I don’t deny.  But to want to differentiate because difference brings recognition where agreement simply brings … well … agreement is about the most destructive device our society could possibly have invented.  And I fear that if we do not learn that this is the case in time to forge a society of common interest in this early 21st century, then there won’t be much of a late 21st century left for the children of our children.

So must we really accentuate what brings notoriety?

Must we really construct an organisational world on the back of “nuke ’em” instincts?

I really don’t think it’s a viable way forward – but I really don’t see too may people agreeing with me at the moment.

Wrong century or wrong species?  Maybe I’m simply not cut out for noise.

Maybe that’s what it is.

Maybe silence is my angle.

3 comments for “On telling the truth vs engineering angles

  1. November 25, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    You are right; too much noise from things that don’t matter, or are plain wrong, dominating the news airwaves, pushing out the things that *are* important.

    Like the destruction and privatisation of the NHS for a start..

    • mil
      November 25, 2012 at 6:24 pm

      Hi Brian – I’m inclined to believe you’re right, but I’m also inclined to wonder whether we’ve allowed ourselves to be painted into a corner. It’s not easy to deal with megaphone politics without falling into the same unlikeable trap. How to deal with the political bully without using their same tools? I don’t have the answer to that one. All I raise in this post is the fact that I don’t think, long-term, trying to shout back louder is necessarily the best and most winning way.

      And we *are* losing the natural inclination which as a nation we used to have to reflect, ponder and evaluate on the basis of evidence before opening our mouths. I think the desire to be first and biggest – once the preserve of the communication *industry* – has become a tendency of the smallest of us who find ourselves saying things in a social media context.

      That the software defines and encourages such behaviours is a self-evident reality. Can we be bigger than the software or mould it collectively to our better instincts? That I am not so sure about at all.

      Keep up the good work, mate. You weary less easily than I. And I do appreciate, most sincerely, what you do on behalf of our very sensible English welfare state socialism. But I also wonder if you and yours won’t get tired one day. And then who shall defend us all in this dialectic battle of awful attrition?

      Who will manage to keep the megaphones *productively* bellowing?

  2. November 25, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Oh I weary alright Mil..

    A technological solution *would be good*, however they tend to become simply tools for empowering the users of them, and caan definitely become corrupted.

    Trouble with the net/softwares is that there are always things to exploit, somehow.

    Can see the original idea of the net working against itself, denial of service or DNS poisoning being used by those with power to gain/maintain and further their power, invisibly.

    How do you believe we are being painted in to a corner?

    As Labour members I think we’re used to every part of t’stablishment (much mainstream media, newspapers) toeing the Tory line and espousing it’s worldview as the most sensible.. there is no alternative.

    For instance the Leveson enquiry.. looking at the role of the media and Murdoch’s influence.. member of which leaves uk politics to go and work for Murdoch in Murca.. after the enquiry in to “media misconduct”, bribery, News International and the Police.

    Plain as day.

    No one says much about it.

    Seems it is not newsworthy.

    Or Nile Gardiner, who started the “Andy Burnham is anti-American” bs, around the time of Hannan’s foray in to domestic US politics, sharing a platform with Liam Fox, founder of the Atlantic Bridge, in 2009..

    None of this an issue.

    You keep up your good (better ;) work too :)

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