Our Crack Tongue & Groove
Time torn off. Unused.
I popped into my local the other day for a quick pint (what a dismal old pub lad, eh readers?) and noted that all the other customers – five of them - were sitting around gawping at the telly affixed to the wall. Their collective gaze portrayed a thin gamut of emotion that flickered between entranced and stupefied. They were watching – make that ‘staring in the direction of’ – Sky Sports News, which featured the usual supermodel presenter looking all earnest as she relayed important news about Leyton Orient’s new lawnmower.
What struck me about the presentation was the sheer amount of stuff that was up there on the TV screen. Besides the actual human, there was breaking sports news flashing up constantly beneath her chin; slightly less breaking sports news scrolling along below this; and then endless league tables and fixtures rotating on the right-hand side of the screen. It was a carousel of drivel; a pacifier for grown-ups; novocaine for those people who have given up on thinking. And that particular group – the people who have given up on thinking – is starting to take over the UK.
It’s true. Many people don’t think anymore. It’s become passé; a notion as outdated as washing your socks down by the river or the Jimmy Savile wing of Stoke Mandeville hospital.
Huge swathes of the population – some of the most overworked and time poor in Europe - are STILL compelled to crowd-out any free time that they may have with shiny bits of clutter that succeeds in shutting down all thought. Naturally, portable phones are playing a big role in this mind-to-mush interface, a fact I noted upon leaving the pub when nearly everyone I passed was jabbering into their device, or poking at it, or being fed the latest Rita Ora by it via some headphones.
And then there is the rise and rise of apps, software seemingly designed to be a monumental waste of everyone’s time. I saw a group of what I can only call “students” recently who were having a whale of a time taking photos of each other and then using an app to make them look like they were made of Lego. Apparently you can also get apps that will show you what you’d look like if you were a chipmunk, or an Australian, or gay.
Some people can’t even watch The X-Factor without feeling the need to tweet sarcastic comments as they go, piling claptrap upon top of claptrap.
There is a finite amount of hours in each day – and so many good books to read, or news to take in, or stuff to simply sit down and think about – but people don’t want quiet contemplation any more. They want Angry Birds. RM