Can you imagine such a thing now? Can you imagine getting just a single minute’s peace from the chaos? Consider the following…
Another horrific mass shooting in America that left 26 people dead, including children and pensioners.
It came just four weeks after the last lethal mass shooting in America, in Las Vegas, that saw 58 victims shot dead.
The release of the Paradise Papers which revealed the monumental extent of tax-dodging going on around the world, implicating everyone from the Queen to U2 to the cast of Mrs Brown’s Boys. (And you thought making that programme was going to be the least funny thing they ever did.)
Jaw-dropping – and accidental – revelations from former adviser Carter Page about the true extent of the Trump campaign’s involvement with Russia.
The resignation of Defence Secretary Michael Fallon in the wake of a lurid sex scandal.
The resignation of International Development Secretary Priti Patel after she was caught up in a scandal about secret Israeli meetings.
Calls for the resignation of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson after he endangered the freedom of a British subject by speaking wildly out of turn to a House of Commons committee.
(Sadly, I fear Johnson won’t be following his Cabinet colleagues out the door. The buffoon has probably reached his own Trump moment – he could stand in the middle of Whitehall and shoot someone and he still wouldn’t get fired.)
All of these scandals – each worthy of days of front pages on their own – happened within seven days.
Of course, some years back, that was all the media that was available – a front page for one day. And maybe an item on the six or 10 o’clock news that night.
Now? In addition to all the rolling news channels whose appetites must be fed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, there is social media, where you can always find the opposite take to what any sane, healthy person might be thinking.
You read about the Paradise Papers, for instance, and think, “Well, everyone must be angry about this.”
But no. There’s Toby Young on Twitter saying: “Every year the left-wing media gets up on its high horse about tax avoidance. It’s like an annual festival of hypocrisy.”
That’s right – a scumbag is trying to deflect from the real argument by saying: “Hey, come on, we all do tax avoidance. Don’t be hypocritical.”
“Well,” you think, “he’s just a scumbag, no one agrees with him.”
But then you click on his replies feed and see that hundreds of maniacs actually do. They think taxation is a foolish activity for idiots and good on the rich if they can get away with not paying a penny.
So your initial anger at the news itself becomes compounded at the reaction of idiots and scumbags to the news and off you go – blood pressure soaring and knuckles clenching white with rage.
To see this escalation-by-social-media scenario at its most painful, we only have to look at the shooting in Texas last week.
Shortly after the massacre, a Russian right-wing website began circulating the rumour that the shooter had been a member of Antifa – i.e. he was a left-wing protester.
What should have been obvious to anyone with half a brain – that this violent, wife-beating, ex-US military man was anything but “of the left” – was swiftly lost amid crazy conspiracy theories that he was a recent Muslim convert and so on and so forth.
Pretty soon – even after these theories had been debunked – you found yourself arguing online with psychotic right-wingers who had completely absorbed
the dreadful pieces of lying propaganda. The fallacy had become truth for them.
Within a few hours, the act of just typing the name of the killer into Google or YouTube also brought up the word Antifa.
So, in addition to trying to deal with the grief and rage you were feeling at yet another senseless massacre in gun-crazy America, you were also having to cope with a fog of lies and politically motivated dissemination about the killer.
Once again, your initial anger at the news itself becomes compounded at the reaction of idiots and scumbags to the news and off you go again – blood pressure soaring and knuckles clenching white with rage.
What can you do about all of this? My mum has a very simple solution
to the information overload of the modern age – she simply doesn’t watch the news or use the internet.