Sunday, August 25, 2013

Seven days and one week

A round-up of the week's major news stories as seen through the eyes of an inattentive, misinformed moron.

Insane in the meme-Slane

I often wonder how different my formative years would have been if social media were around at the time. And then I thank my lucky stars that there was nothing more than the occasional camera and hearsay to document my activities. If Facebook had existed while I was a teen my page would have been full of incriminating evidence. Pictures of my gurning, bug-eyed face, videos of me dancing to cheesy French house music, rambling, indecipherable status updates penned in the dead of the night (wait, I already do that) and ill-advised declarations of lust for womenfolk I barely know – and that's just the good stuff.

Among all that relatively harmless activity there'd surely be something that made me cringe, something that reminded me of a moment I'd rather forget. I'd try to delete it lest my mother feast her eyes upon it, but it'd be too late, she'd never look at me in the same light again. Luckily, mercifully, I'd just about given up my hedonistic activities before Facebook came around. Oh how I laughed at the pictures of my young friends lying in a pool of their own vomit, all the while knowing that it could have been me up there on the tinternet for all to see. Being young and stupid is tough, but having your every mistake highlighted and analysed on a public forum makes it substantially tougher.

And nowhere are you more likely to be young and stupid than at a live music event. Shorn of responsibility and free from the restraints of your local town or village you can go wild, in your own misguided little mind you imagine yourself frolicking through the fields like it's the Summer of Love and you're just another wildchild about to come of age. The reality is far harsher; you get blind drunk on unfamiliar spirits and the rest of the day is a blur of twisted limbs, thumping sounds and corrupted souls. By the time it's over you wander through the exit and somehow manage to find the transport which will escort you home to Mammy and Daddy where you belong.

You wake up the next day and wonder what the fuck went on. But unlike in my day where all I had to worry about was a few texts ridiculing me for my antics there's a judge, jury and executioner waiting for you online. The girl captured on camera at Slane acted foolishly but she didn't do anything that the generations before didn't do. I could recount tales that would make a pornstar blush but that's all they are, tales. Once you put someone at the mercy of the Internet the gloves are well and truly off, and whomever thought if funny to post those pictures on Twitter and Facebook can congratulate themselves, because they have ruined this girl's life forever.

If she'd done that in my day her only worry would be facing the patrons of the bus on the way home. She'd be derided as a slapper and word would get around town, she'd walk with her head down for a few months and struggle to shake off that tag. But eventually she'd meet a nice fella, settle down and look back on her youthful endeavours with nothing more than a tinge of regret. Compare that to this girl. Her parents, her entire family, everyone she knows and beyond, they've all seen what she's done and in graphic detail too. How is that fair? Young girls get pissed and get off with boys, sometimes more than one, it's what they do, until they get a bit of sense and cop themselves on.

I'm not sure how the girl in question can ever come back from this. She's already been named and shamed and worst of all the posting of said pictures has been held up as a sign of all that is wrong with social media. So now the debate has extended beyond her actions and the fecklessness of those who brought them to the masses, we are now discussing the impact of those images and what it says about social media in general. Sadly she has now gone down in internet infamy, likely to be remembered alongside Joseph Kony, Rebecca Black and the girl caught flashing her tits on webcam by her dad. Saddest of all though is that for months she and her friends probably talked excitedly about the forthcoming gig, she went to bed the night before giddy and excited about the day ahead, and she woke up that morning with a spring in her step. Little did she know that by the day's end her life would be in ruins, in tatters, and why? Because she made a mistake, just like every teenager in history has done thousands and thousands of times.

Only in Ireland

Oh the embarrassment of it all, 'twas on Sky Sports News and everything. The Brits were laughing their holes off at the thick ole Irish again. Hawk-eye has been used to great effect in tennis and cricket but wouldn't you just know that as soon as we get our hands on it we fuck it up. I say we, but who I really mean are the GAA. The technology has had teething problems in other sports nut nothing on the level as seen in Croke Park last Sunday. Okay so the GAA can't be directly blamed for their piece of kit malfunctioning as it did, but the decision to slavishly follow it's commendation despite everyone in the stadium, and at home seeing it was wrong, is just so typical of the organisation. “Ooer the machine said it was wide so it must be wide,” “But it went over I can see it with me own two eyes,” “No, no, the machine is never wrong, if it says wide then wide it is.”

Instead of using common sense and discretion the man in the box chose to side with the robots and in the process deny Limerick's minors the chance of All-Ireland glory. Indeed the only saving grace is that this happened in a minor match and not the seniors, can you imagine the outcry if it had been in the following game? As it was the appeals from the losing county fell on deaf ears, gway outta it lads oul' Hawk-eye was just having an off day. But this wasn't any ordinary protest, it's not like they were complaining about a poor refereeing decision which came down to human error. Their case centred on a seemingly infallible contraption proving anything but. There was no precedence and you can't help but wonder if the error had occurred in a senior game, and it had been one of the more prominent counties, would the outcome have been different.

As it is the short-sighted birdie has been put out to pasture. You had your chance and you fucked it up, 'tis back to the boys in the white coats for us. I'm sure Hawk-eye return at some stage, but for the time being it'll have to make do with deciding the outcome of other sports, in other countries.


The latest newspaper circulation figures do not make good reading; readership is decreasing across the board and it seems only a matter of time before print media dies out altogether. I don't buy a newspaper anymore, and really I should. As someone with a vested interest in the industry it's my duty to support it any way I can. But still I don't. I, like everyone else, simply gather as much information as I can from other outlets, television, radio, oh and of course, the internet. I know that if I want to read good quality journalism then the best place to go is the national broadsheet, but who has time to sit and read for a newspaper nowadays? That's not how things work any longer.

We just want byte-sized nuggets of info, enough to give us a general idea of what's going on. Once we've acquired that piece of data we look for another, flitting from one story to the next without ever really getting the full picture. Even this blog, I've entitled it “a round-up of the week's news stories as seen through the eyes of an inattentive, misinformed moron.”There's obviously some slight self-deprecation there but as a description it's not far wide of the mark (the moron bit aside) and the same can be said for much of society in the digital age. Occasionally a story will take hold and we'll endeavour to learn more about it through well-regarded, reliable sources. But for the most part we just haven't got time. We're too busy watching three-minute long Youtube videos, tweeting 140 character messages and sharing apparently funny stories that we've only half read. Take the Internet away and suddenly the newspaper becomes King once more, but this world isn't big enough for the both of them and sooner or later one has to go. I know who my money's on. 

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