This week, I was going to write a column about how I just cannot stand to hear any more about a certain person right now.
I was going to say that, even though I don’t read or watch the news, still this person manages to sneak into my awareness daily, through Twitter feeds, or Facebook shares, in magazines or on TV, where I invariably learn that he’s launched another controversy bomb, showering the nation in the debris of offence, leaving them sifting the rubble for the rights and wrongs of it all.
Actually, it’s not just this guy I’ve had it with – it’s all of the controversialists-for-hire. The posh blonde one with her inflammatory ‘opinions’ on obesity and equality and ginger babies. Those designers with their bizarre comments about same-sex families. Anything that comes out of that pop star’s mouth.
Unless it’s Noam Chomsky or the Dalai Lama having their say, who cares? Why does what these people think deserve reporting? And why do I have to keep hearing about them?
Could it be because controversy engenders outrage, and outrage leads to clicks, and clicks lead to advertisers and advertisers lead to profit? Social media leads the news these days, so what we click on, share, sign and get worked up about creates the headlines. Today, more than ever, we get the media we deserve. Yikes.
And what I was going to suggest, was, maybe it doesn’t have to be this way. Imagine these repeat offenders were just normal people. The bore down the pub harping on about his cars, spouting his pantomime opinions, casting the odd racist slur then taking a swing at the glass collector. The mean-spirited woman at the school gates, bitching about the weight of the single mums. Would you not just position yourself far, far away from them, whilst making a mental note to avoid them altogether in future, for the unhappy people they clearly are?
And yet, when someone is on TV, we devote thousands of hours and even more words dissecting their actions (both for and against is wonderful for them, as long as they’re trending) while worthwhile causes go un-clicked. No wonder some celebrities act like gods. They are like gods, despising humanity, all the while feeding off our attentions.
We shouldn’t stay quiet in the face of bigotry or racism or violence, no. But we don’t want to be contributing to the circus, either. After all, ‘Banned from the BBC’ would be a sexy new addition to a presenter’s CV if taken stateside. It’s all a game. These ‘offenses’ are just (lucrative) vessels for the public’s ever present ire. Controversy is a commodity, now, and the chumps are queuing round the block.
If we want a more peaceful, more compassionate world, there’s an old saying: “the grass is greener where you water it.” How about we stop expending energy hating these people – hate and love are just different ends of the same stick, after all, requiring the same level of energy and devotion – and instead simply become indifferent. Deprive the controversialists of their oxygen, and let them wither.
Like I say, I was going to write that column. And then I thought, would that just be giving these berks even more attention they don’t deserve? So I decided against it. But if I ever do write that column, I can promise that you’ll be the first to know.