An interesting article by Terence Blacker in the Independent recently caught my eye. He maintained that we are living in the Great Age of Panic. Without being able to pinpoint why this would be he suggests that we could be needing that sense of constant panic in order to feel alive.
As much as I agree with him that there is an extraordinary amount of panic about, I’m not sure whether this is necessarily something coming from the people or whether it isn’t something the media is stoking up. A kind of “what came first — the chicken or the egg?” question surely.
As an example one could speculate that the drama in the financial markets has reflected a mood of panic rather than any kind of thoughtful process. No matter what the central governments have done to try and shore up confidence in the markets, it has not halted the total erratic ups and downs of the stock and money markets.
In fact it is quite difficult to put any kind of logical reason to the movements. This fire has been fanned by the media. Just listen to Bloomberg TV to get a feel for how well that is being manipulated.
He further makes a case of the recent hysteria that erupted in the UK media about two celebrity DJs who had played a particularly silly and crude prank by leaving ill-mannered messages on a senior actor’s mobile phone. It took a while for the momentum to gather, but it did eventually lead to a public outcry with even politicians getting involved in the debate.
But I would make a case for the fact that it is not people who are longing for panic in their lives or even that they enjoy getting involved in mob hysteria. It is rather the media that feels that only bad news sells papers, gets eyeballs onto websites and gets people to watch TV.
So it is not surprising to read that the US newspapers could not keep up with demand for their editions writing about the Obama victory. After all, considering how they perceive their market, they could not have predicted that people really, really want to read about something uplifting and positive for a change. Perhaps it’s not the internet after all that’s killing off the print media.
Regrettably, with that kind of mind set, it will be but a short while and the news headlines will be shrieking at us how badly Obama is doing and what a mistake it has been to vote for him. After all, what could people have been thinking to believe that he could lead them into a period of positive change?
And do expect dozens of “experts” or media sluts who will suddenly pop out of the woodwork and explain why it was such a bad thing the US citizens got tricked into doing. Suddenly all of these political experts will have predicted disaster, well before the elections.
Let’s see how long it takes before these kinds of sad, ill-informed and panic inducing headlines are in all papers and being discussed by talk show hosts. And just to keep in practice until that time arrives, the media is having fun mauling runner-ups McCain and Palin.