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Ideas Composting

Constructive News Resources

As citizens and academics, we need to address the possible effects of the steady drip feed of negativity that news media present. This, of course, is connected with entertainment values and taken for granted industry assumptions that negativity sells. Endless bad news may not only be depressing in itself but may also discourage engagement in what appears to be a hopelessly broken and frightening world. We need to raise this issue to challenge the unspoken assumption that 'news' means bad news.

An Exclusive Future?

What if apocalyptic popular culture, dystopian science fiction, zombie apocalypses, and so on are part of a kind of collective denial of historical responsibility? A view where we as individuals and as a civilisation have no responsibility to the future, we have no cause for shame about how future generations may remember us, because we believe that there won't be a future?

This fits with the 'mindfulness' of capitalism, an ever present present, where the past and the future don't really matter. There is, harking back to Say's law, constant balance in the market in the present.

Global Media in the Nineteenth Century

The novelty of today’s globally connected society and economy is often overestimated.  The emergence of a truly globalised communications system can be traced back to the mid-nineteenth century.  The late 1840’s saw an explosion in global trade.  This global expansion of capitalism was facilitated by improvements transport for people and goods.  Developments like clipper ships, transcontinental railways, the Suez and Panama canals revolutionised the speed and volume of global transportation.

It’s not about who you are but who you appear to be

In the not so distant past, personal power was often associated with a slow, deliberate and controlled demeanour. An unhurried manner showed that one had time. One could take time in the moment. More importantly, such poise subtly announced that one had had the time, and money, to cultivate this demeanour. Today we seem to seek credit for ostentatiously showing that we have no time.


'Now' Postponed due to False Hope and Distraction

Rather than emphasizing the past or the future, western culture increasingly exists in the present. In our media, politics, economy, and so on, there is only a blinkered vision of the here and now. Businesses cannot see beyond the next quarter. With a permanent financial emergency, politics is reduced to tactical fixes without long-term vision. Advertising tells us to ‘make the most of now’, and so on. A new combination of advertising and social media add a new twist to this.

Television Debates: Running to Stand Still

Our news and current affairs broadcasters are stuck in a cultural lag. Our society and economy have changed. The endless growth paradigm has ended. The old ways of producing (or not, as the case may be), working and living are over. There is no realistic prospect of a 20th century western lifestyle for today’s global population. We do not know how society and the economy will operate in the years to come but it will not resemble the last century’s consumption-driven dreams of limitless growth.

The Affect of Theory

Alongside, and perhaps even before, the meaning of something, there is the way it makes us feel. In an article last year (2010), Jan Teurlings argued that academics must consider the emotional impact of our work as teachers and researchers. Intended meanings and feelings are two different things. As Teurlings points out ‘sometimes the affect of a cultural artefact can be diametrically opposed to its literal meaning’ (2010: 372).