Wednesday, 6 July 2016

How can we be sure Peter Mandelson doesn't shoot dogs?

Not many people read this blog. Not traditionally anyway. Until this week, my average post would get 100 readers or so. That was until I started writing about POLITICS. Suddenly, my readership has increased ten fold - seventeen fold to be exact. Who knew?  Lying dormant for all this time has been an audience, the size of an average Barnet FC home gate, who wake up every day thinking 'I wonder what the guy who played David Hasselhoff's manager thinks about the news'.

This leaves me in a quandary. Sure, writing about politics is fun (that's why all the teens are doin' it) but it's also stressful. Putting forth an opinion will inevitably lead to some people disagreeing with you. I found myself in an argument on Facebook about my Corbyn post yesterday. Has anyone ever, in the history of the internet, won an argument? If they have, I've not witnessed it. Once a debate has escalated to a certain level it never ends with 'actually, do you know what @BarbaraG1993? You were right and I was wrong'.

But my people want that sweet sweet politics talk from me. I could write about Chilcot which comes out in a couple of hours. That would be an ambitious topic. Here's a prediction; whatever Chilcot says, it will not change a single person's opinion about anything. Britain is split into three camps - those who think Blair is a war criminal, those who think he isn't and those who watch Geordie Shore. No one will be moving camps today. What you'll get is a lot of people screaming 'Whitewash! Whitewash! This report did not confirm my long held immovable view and therefore it is a Whitewash!'.

Here's a problem which is getting ever worse. For the most part, everyone only reads things they already agree with. Today I guarantee they'll be an article titled 'Why Chilcot is a whitewash and we should be outraged'. The content of the piece will not matter. It'll still get thousands of shares. You could fill it with carrot soup recipes and people would still go 'Well, this looks like it confirms my views - share!'.

Exploiting this culture is a website called The Canary. If you've not noticed it, it's the pro-Corbyn news blog your little sister's new boyfriend keeps posting on his Facebook feed with articles titled things like 'Charlotte Church Reads The Junior Doctors Contract - And It's Not Good!' and 'How Can We Be Sure Peter Mandelson Doesn't Shoot Dogs?'. The Canary's tagline is 'Fresh, Fearless Independent Journalism'. Its twitter bio is 'Free. Fair. Fearless'. These sound awfully like Fox News's tagline - 'Fair and Balanced' and it is essentially a left wing, British, low budget version of that. The Canary constantly complains about bias in the 'mainstream media', using the popular new irritating acronym MSM. Ironically, it has never published an article which didn't support its own particular leftie agenda.

There's nothing wrong with bias of course. The Guardian is heavily inclined in one direction and The Telegraph in another. They do at least have some degree of variety of opinion though. The rise of websites like The Canary and the right wing alternative Breitbart is fucking scary. Is this what we want to do? Pick a side in our early twenties (or at the age of eleven if you're a geek like me) and then block out anything that might not tally with our team's views? Just seek out things that support our argument not challenge it while piss poor websites pick up the clicks?

A few years ago I noticed that my twitter feed was invariably only giving me one side of the argument on most news stories. So I made a conscious effort to, in addition to all the lefty comics and journalists, follow a load of right of centre commentators and politicians. It hasn't radically changed my opinion on much but it has at least given me an insight into the other side of the debate. Now let me just step up onto my self righteous horse for this - I recommend doing as I did.

Perhaps you agree with everything I've said. In fact, maybe you already had all these opinions before reading and this post has just confirmed them for you. In which case, you know what to do - share!

Happy Chilcot Day everyone!

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