The State of The Nation

Sparked by a post by Chris over at in which Chris, in essence, notes how watching the news on TV has a negative effect on her, and how “NOT watching the news has improved my psyche.”; I was prompted to comment

I agree entirely, Chris. I haven’t watched the TV news for nearly 12 months! In fact, I try not to watch TV at all. I watch films, and occasionally sit down with my daughter and watch something ‘harmless’ on the Disney Channel.

Unfortunately, I often hear the news on the radio which my partner insists on having on most of the time. It just confirms my opinion that the world at large is losing it’s morals, it’s intelligence, and is getting more trivial and petty. Or is that just the media?

Of preference I will read books, listen to music, create something (usually computer programs), have conversations (online and IRL), and read blogs!

I forgot to mention that like another commenter I too don’t read newspapers or magazines (except technical ones).

You know, I’m old enough (40) to remember when the news (TV/radio/newspaper) didn’t require EVERY story to have a superlative!

I mean, in the UK, every single headline story seems to have a superlative: “the worst xxx in 40 years”, “the most yyy since the war”, I’ve even heard “the coldest month this year” in February!

There must be armies of researchers sifting through records to find that crucial superlative and the appropriate time period. Or perhaps they make them all up. 😉 Who would know?

An example: the recent earthquake we had in England was quite minor (4.8 on the richter scale) compared to those suffered in other countries: Buildings near the epicentre had minor structural damage, but there were NO reports of injuries. The 7:30 news on my local radio station that morning reported the story quite sensibly, with interviews from people who were frightened, police men who’d been inundated with calls, etc. Quite a reasonable story, not too sensational. By the 8:00 news, the story was reduced to a sound bite: “England Rocked by Worst Earthquake in 60 Years!!” and a couple more sentences. You could actually hear the exclamation marks and the capitalisation.

I hear it all the time in conversations now: Everyone talks about “the worst this”, “the best that”, “the most”, “the least”. People no longer say “Last night I had a great night out.”, they apparently had “The Best Night Ever!”… Until next week, when the also have the “The Best Night Ever!”, unless they have “The Worst Night Ever!” for a change.

The English language used to be wonderful for its subtleties and its shades of meaning. There are often dozens of words to use to modify, qualify or enhance a particular adjective, or adverb, particularly if one includes regional colloquialisms. Today things are ‘top’ or ‘naff’, they are ‘the best’ or ‘the worst’, people are loved or hated, football teams are the ‘best’ or ‘nowhere’, you are either successful or a loser. Everything is extremes, there are no shades anymore.

I suppose it still is wonderful, the English language; there are many skilled authors around, some better than others. But it seems that no longer is it a requirement for mass media writers to have a mastery of the English language, or even a good grasp of it. The most basic of understanding will do. Grammar is not required, spell checkers will correct their most obvious errors. A good grasp of one-up-manship in sensational headlines is more valuable than actually being able to string together a coherent sentence. The same seems to be true for advertising copy writers too, including the sensational headlines!

Maybe I’m just an old fogy, wishing for the old days, and bemoaning the “state of the kids today”? Or maybe I’m one of the last generation to get a decent education in this country.

Ho hum.

2 thoughts on “The State of The Nation

  1. The news just depress me . I usually listen to the first part of “bad” news to keep myself updated but I don’t linger on . Are you 40? Hm, reminds me of my dad who went back to school for a master’s degree just because he was bored with work. Haha.

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