If you still read or view mainstream media you might be excused for thinking that the world is in a really dark place, that we have unprecedented problems, and that society in general is worse than it ever has been before. But, while there are certainly problems which we need to be cognisant of, things really aren’t that bad. The issues which are being highlighted tend to be either nowhere near as bad as they are portrayed, or not really issues at all because we are just paying attention to things which were ignored in the past, or they might even completely non-existent.
So many of the apparently serious problems we are facing are more the result of increased sensitivity and vigilance – sometimes to the point of creating problems where none really exist – rather than anything genuinely serious. And the real problems are so misrepresented and trivialised that they are difficult to take seriously for many people.
Sometimes the truth of a matter is well illustrated in fiction, satire, or humour. And in this case I have several political cartoons illustrating this phenomenon which I think are useful…
In the first one, the main character is sitting in front of his TV watching the news and the news presenter is demanding to know “what can we do to lessen the grip of fear from terrorism?”. The character simply turns the TV off, followed by a smug grin.
There is little doubt that the mainstream media horribly distort the relative importance of events. Why they do this is difficult to establish, but creating sensational headlines to get more clicks and greater ad revenue must be one reason. Another might be that most media are very politically biased and emphasise stories to reflect this. The danger of terrorism in most Western countries is very small, so the news media are certainly responsible for a lot of the fake fear, as the cartoon suggests.
Then there’s a comparison of feminists now and in the past. The first photo shows an historic photo, titled “feminism then” with a woman holding a sign reading “votes for women.” The second photo is titled “feminism now” and shows a “feminist” holding a sign which reads “proud slut.”
As I have said in past posts (especially “St George in Retirement” from 2019-10-04), feminism has basically run out of real issues to try to fix, so it has now been reduced to demanding solutions to problems which don’t exist, or looking for more and more obscure and trivial problems to deal with. The cartoon shows an example of this (note that this is actually two real photos with captions rather than a traditional cartoon).
While we’re on the subject of ridiculing feminism, the next shows an hysterical and clearly traumatised woman. The text states: ” New feminist study: 7 out of 3 men will rape in the next 15 minutes. Feminist: I already got raped 3 or 4 times today, and it’s not even 8 o’clock yet!”
I don’t want to minimise the traumatic effect of genuine cases of rape, but the word, and its close cousin, sexual assault (which can mean a lot of different things), has been expanded to try to make the problem seem worse than it really is. So we get ridiculous statistics based on actions which are never well defined, and are often not rape at all, and might not even be lesser crimes.
Then there’s a cartoon featuring our old friend, Greta Thunberg. In the first frame it shows her saying “Yet you all come to use young people for hope. How dare you!” The second frame shows some bad-ass looking action movie actor (sorry, I don’t know who, I’m not good with celebrities) saying: “I don’t remember asking you a goddamned thing.”
This is a good point, isn’t it? Greta seems to think the older generation have made a mess of things and are running to her for solutions. What utter drivel. She is a tool being used for political influence, and most of us would prefer to listen to sensible adults, rather than a silly, hysterical child. But again, things look bad if you take too much notice of this neurotic nonsense. (Just for clarity here, I believe global warming is real and primarily caused by humans – I just object to the frivolous and ridiculous political rhetoric from people like Thunberg).
My favourite is this. Multiple frames show young people from different eras. The first shows life 700 years ago and the text reads “1300s: I’m dying of black plague.” Next is: “1800s: I’m working 16 hour days.” Then: “1900s: I’m off to fight a war.” And finally: “2000s: I’m offended.” The first 3 frames show people demonstrating grim determination as they try to survive plague, struggle to complete 16 hours of hard work, and march off to war. But the final frame shows a bunch of teenagers sitting around and dramatically crying over nothing.
A similar sentiment is shown in my final example. Two frames show young people from two different eras. The first shows young soldiers, with the text: “1944: 18 year olds stormed the beach at Normandy into almost certain death.” The second shows some pathetic modern teens with the text: “2019: 18 year olds need a safe place because words hurt their feelings!”
I’ve heard the idea many times that people need some element of danger, risk, or adventure in their life. When there is no genuine source for these, something fake needs to be created as a replacement. People returning from war report they can’t cope with the mundane sameness of everyday life. They actually miss the fear, companionship, and excitement from living in a situation where death is imminent. Maybe being insulted by someone using the wrong language is the closest thing the modern generation can find to having any sort of genuine struggle. If so, it’s kind of pathetic.
There is one other related cartoon I should mention while I’m here. The caption for this one says: “Guess what happens after you’re offended. Nothing, that’s it! Now be an adult and move on!”
And that’s another good point. If someone says something you don’t like, you could do one of two things: first, ignore it and move on; or second, get really upset about it, start a major argument, and try to get the person who said it banned or fired. Which one is more sensible in the end? Which causes the least trauma for all concerned?
I do feel a bit like an “old fart” when I criticise the younger generation like this, because older people have always done this, and often not looked particularly credible in the process. But I can’t see why the criticism isn’t valid. I can remember when I was that age I was also politically naive and supported many of the trendy issues of the time, but I really hope I wasn’t as presumptuous and overconfident in my own infallibility as the current generation is. And even then older people told me similar things to what I am saying now, and – although I usually didn’t accept it at the time – they were often right!
So it seems to me that the stress and anxiety that many, especially younger, people today feel is really their own fault. Things aren’t as bad as we are often told. They should do what the character in my first cartoon did: turn off the TV. Note that I mean that figuratively. They need to disconnect from all overwrought, exaggerated portents of doom, and relax: it will be OK!