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The Last Contrarian
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When the media thinks we are stupid

04 February 2014, 20:29

Every day the world wakes up to another slew of hysterical headlines trying to convince the common man that somewhere a part of the sky is falling. Alongside these literary thrills features all the advice you’ll ever need … about anything!

The tone of editorials has become predictably dramatic and distressing and are often nothing more than embellishments of whispered rumours—exactly the sort of enterprise one expects from the media and copycat writers desperate to secure some public following.

For those prone to misunderstanding and taking offense, I am not claiming that journalists and editors should not convey real tragedies and tangible threats with the requisite level of adverbial colouring that does such stories justice, but must every single hiccup in the employment statistics, or squabble in parliament, or teenage pregnancy necessarily serve to blow the trumpets signaling Armageddon?

There are days when I still force myself to read the news, but for the most part, I take to reading history books—some, centuries old—to keep up with modern times. And this is entirely possible because all the drama, angst, and upheaval we see today have already done their rounds—numerous times—in the past.

So rather than listen to or read  the thumb-sucked opinion of some journalist or columnist who had a brainstorming session with his/her drinking pals the night before (regarding the dire state of the global economy, of course), I dismiss many such contributions on the basis that these modern-day prophets of the printing-press don’t actually know what the hell they are talking about! Getting one of these ‘columnists’ to thumb a few pages through a proper book containing facts is near impossible—because they take to scandals, clichés, lunch-time politics, and housewife wisdom like moths take to candlelight.

I’d name these offending individuals—a few of them featuring on this very site—but the list would be too long … and mentioning any one of the offenders by name would but simply nudge them towards another over-a-cup-of-tea-and-a-sandwich discussion with a colleague, before discharging a 2,500-word retort in their own defense the next morning. Some people truly feel it is not just their right but also their duty to disseminate their ignorance regarding everything around them, but they do so at the cognitive detriment of their readers.

But as history has demonstrated, such problems will often get a lot worse before they get any better. And things have gotten worse—much worse! By far the most insulting blocks of text now filling up the (web)pages of the nearest THE INDEPENDENT are the numerous self-help articles frequently authored by teenage wannabe writers who enjoy nepotistic advantage by way of their mother’s or father’s position as the editor for the regional gazette.

You are in for a literary treat as these channelers of the obvious tell you all the things they think you didn’t know about starting your own business, saving up for your retirement, giving birth to your first set of twins, and baking the perfect Black Forest cake!

And just when we (well, those of us who eventually get bored with the same) had finally had enough of these contrived and vapid self-help articles, some genius went and introduced the ‘grocery list’ article as the solution! OH JOY! Instead of just one tip about how to raise your son to be feminist suck-up, you can now learn…………………… hold on …………………. wait for it ……………… THE 10 SECRETS TO RAISING YOUR MAN CHILD TO BE A WUSS!

Give me the demented scenes of Japanese porn stars shoving live eels up their butts over this nonsense any day of the week! My belief in professional integrity would be much less wrecked from seeing some Japanese porn actress prolapse in a puddle of wriggling eels than reading the 10 things I never knew about David Hasselhoff or revisiting the 7 most adorable sitcom characters from the 70s!

This is the very thing those illiterate old hermits in the hills of yore tried to warn us would happen if society did not band together and resist the information age! Now look at what rampant literacy and endless volumes of information have reduced the world to.

If the only intellectual currency one has to barter with is one’s own opinion, then one is already well on one’s way to being a journalist or a columnist—the very foot soldiers that help exact the media’s war on the intellectual sovereignty of society.

The common man/woman may not entirely appreciate what it is that I am trying to achieve with all my finger pointing in this article, but be glad that some writers are still willing to defend your intelligence and remind you that those in the media are talking to you in a tone befitting a person with severe cognitive impairment. Unless you really are an idiot and revel in that fact, you’d best to write to your favourite paper and remind the writers/journalists there that you too know how to pay rent, save up for your retirement, and raise your children to adulthood.

Generations before us managed just fine without being exposed to all this ‘advice’ from ‘experts,’ and on a daily basis, at that. So take a moment to remind the media that you (a) don’t wear intellectual diapers, and (b) surely don’t need someone from the media to change them for you, either.

There was a time long ago when being able to write was the mark of an educated mind. But as literacy has now been a viral reality in much of society for more than a century, we must move beyond the idea that the occasional flair for writing elects and opinion worth listening to.

And to those of you writers and journalists who must—for paycheck’s sake—construct these dreaded grocery-list and self-help articles, I implore you to showcase something original and practical for a change! You know, really be of use to your fellow man (for once). How about—and this is just my personal recommendation—trying some of the following:

1.       The 5 Kamasutra positions to avoid when you have heart problems

2.       The 7 spicy foods that ruin anal sex for you and your partner

3.       Drinking on an empty stomach – the 7 mixes of death

4.       The 4 most effective ways to escape the embrace of that 3AM ass cramp

5.       The 8 best websites for watching FREE porn

6.       The 6 sex toys to avoid when you both are drunk

7.       The 3 things never to call the Greek at the corner cafe

Perhaps you want to keep it regional or local, in which case you want to focus on one piece of advice and cover it thoroughly. For example,

1.       How to psych up for your first HIV test when you have reason to expect a fail

2.       How to give your boss ultimate pleasure for the ultimate raise or promotion

3.       Office politics for the office saint – the art of blending in

4.       How to avoid getting bliksemd when drinking with Afrikaans people

5.       The DIY abortion kit no teenage girl should be without!

Then you may wish to diversify and give us some advice from true domain experts. Something like,

1.       The metropolitan slut’s guide to the streets of Jo’burg

2.       The hijacker’s handbook for surviving his day job

3.       Convicted Ponzi scheme tycoon talks investment for the elderly

4.       Advice from a serial rapist – how to walk away from rape with your insides intact

5.       A Daspoorter’s confession: how my mother is also my sister

6.       Retrenched white IT expert shares his secrets for avoiding the ombudsman

7.       Armed robber shows how to live in style with no job and no income!

And if you do have the opportunity to interview distinguished individuals in society, keep the Q&A session within their field of expertise—however limited that may be. Some examples,

1.       Don’t invite a psychiatrist or therapist to talk about the economy

2.       Stop asking physicists questions about god, religion, or spirituality

3.       Following from point 2, refrain from engaging preachers and religious figures on scientific matters

4.       And, for god’s sake, don’t discuss political and social issues with celebrities and movie stars! (rather ask them what fake blood tastes like)

Finally, try your best not to go all oxymoronic on us, will you? For example,

1.       “It’s ok to shake hands with black people,” admits recluse white supremacist

2.       McDonalds manager says “Chinese are evil” for eating dog meat

3.       Renowned South African hunter calls for end to Japan’s annual whaling season

4.       40-year-old virgin talks sexual rampancy in society  – (the very essence of irony this one is)

5.       And finally, Catholic priest declares child rape a ‘crime against humanity’

Looking at this finished article, I stand convicted of having done the very thing predicted by such great writers as Christopher Hitchens: “You cannot banish this specter by invoking it.” And I fear I have done exactly that, becoming possessed by the very demon that I set out to exorcise.

Oh well. I guess I’ve now earned the right to ask you to…

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