Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Friday 17 March 2023

‘...not with a bang but an insta’

It would, in a slightly perverse way, be comforting to think that, should our civilisation fail, the end would be brought about by something on a cosmic scale and completely beyond our control; a massive asteroid, perhaps, or an alien invasion.

Science fiction writers have added a moral dimension with inadvertently self-inflicted scenarios involving nuclear disaster, rogue AI or global pandemics spread by mass air travel, not to mention my personal favourite, triffids; less spectacular but there’s still a certain element of grandeur involved (except, perhaps, in the case of zombies).

Sadly, it’s looking more and more as if the end will be a combination of terminal dumbing down and bitter political infighting. With hindsight, we could have seen it coming; the internet gave us a tool beyond the wildest dreams of previous generations, so what did most of us do with it? Shopping, lolcats, belfies, hot and cold running Kardashians and all the rest (blogs too, of course).

Above all, the social media genie, once out of the bottle, has set about undermining our society from within, providing the perfect medium for narcissism, misinformation, witch-hunts and denunciations, all played out in public for the delectation of the masses - the perfect counterpart to the circuses of the Ancient Romans. 

The instantaneous knee-jerk posturing of social media is fuelling an increasing polarisation as our society fragments into tribes - us (right) and them (wrong) - according to one’s opinion on the issue of the day; humans being what they are, it isn’t long before the tribe determines the opinion rather than the other way round. As far as Brexit, gender or the British Empire are concerned, we are effectively involved in wars of religion, whether we know it or not.

Worse still - since those are, at least relatively serious matters - is the growing infantilism recently embodied by news coverage of one Liana, who filmed herself on tiktok copiously weeping because some social media users had been rude about the name of her child (Koazy, since you ask) or the petty squabbles surrounding the antics of various footballers’ wives.

It’s all starting to look horribly like a fast track to hell in a handcart and, given the wedge of diversity staff and green policies being driven into every pillar of our social and material infrastructure, the collapse is gathering pace. We might be able to slow the decline - for a start, it would help if if Instagram’s estimated 1.47 billion users didn’t spend an average of half an hour a day gazing at their own and each other’s navels - but I suspect our time is up, just as it was for the Ancient Romans, the Aztecs or the Moche.

How humiliating, though, to descend into barbarism in such a trivial and meaningless way!


  1. "We might be able to slow the decline..."

    You know, I'm no longer even sure of that.

    1. It might be easier if we were fighting something tangible, but you’re probably right; there’s no remedy for stupid.

  2. Plan A may be totalitarian government dressed up as something else. That something else may be a more strictly formalised version of woke politics.

    1. It’s becoming increasingly more plausible that there are people out there who read 1984 and saw it as an instruction manual - certainly Oxfam took a massive step towards Newspeak this week with their staff guide to appropriate language.

  3. Social media has, though, introduced "The Lineker Scale", a new measurement of guaging virtue signalling, as in " Most of Gretal Thunderbox's rants have rarely fell below 5 Linekers".

    1. An excellent notion!

      Perhaps we could extend the idea; ‘Jordans’, perhaps, as a measure of gratuitous self-exposure, or ‘Clarksons’ for gaffes and giving offence.


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