March 2009: No news is good news


– I’ve given up watching the television.

Is it the cost of the licence that’s caused this most dramatic of decisions?

– Not at all. In fact, that’s only the start of many decisions that I’m going to make.  I’m giving up the radio as well. And the newspapers.

– Somehow, I feel sure that you are going to enlighten me as to the reasons for these actions.
–  Well, if you insist. I reckon that if I don’t hear what’s going on it won’t affect me.  Take the recession. Sure, I’m sick and tired of people telling me how worse off I am since last year. There was a time when they told us that we didn’t know how well off we were and now, all of a sudden like, they’re falling over each other to tell me how badly off I am.

– You have a point there, my good man.

– My mother never stopped telling me how well off I was; how in her day, they went to school in bare feet with a sod of turf under their oxter. God, I used to feel guilty about having a pair of socks on my feet, even if they were darned with a different colour of wool. And the other day, I realised that I was feeling even more guilty nowadays than I was back then and suddenly I realised why…

– Pray, please proceed with your line of thought.

– You see, it’s all to do with the Information Age.

– Really?

– There’s too much information flying about. In my mother’s day, she thought she was well off because she knew no better. They had only one newspaper a week, the Sunday Press. And divil a bit of bad news did that carry what with it being a Fianna Fail paper and all that. Sure, my mother being a De Valera woman, she couldn’t hear any bad about Ireland, not to mind allow another paper into the house for fear that we’d be corrupted. And so we grew up thinking the world was a grand place, how we never had it so good because the paper and our mother told us that it was a grand place. Now, we can’t even get out of bed before we hear how bad things are. The alarm goes off and the clock radio kicks in with the latest news; all bad, of course. If we have the courage to crawl out from under the covers, the television is switched on by some unknown and unseen hand and we get more of it. You hop in your car and its depression, recession, inflation and deflation all the way to work.  Then all day, every day, you have to listen to your workmates as they moan; ‘Did you hear yer man on the radio yesterday about the property bust?’ And: ‘I see on the telly that such-and-such is laying off ten thousand people next year’; they’re all infected by it.

– I have to admit that I understand your state of depression completely, my friend.

– I knew you’d understand. Sure, like yourself, I only come in here to retain what’s left of my sanity. Keep your head when all around you, and all that. Where was I? Ah yes, the Age of Information. Then there’s Tinternet. Look at all the rubbish that they write on there.  Most of it lies too. And the politicians are all at it now. Doesn’t that young fellow from this town run the Fianna Fail site-for-sore-eyes? It’s not enough that they broadcast the drivel from the Senate every night on ArrTeeEeeToo to keep us awake. Now they want us to log on and read about it as well the next morning.

I must admit that I avoid that programme myself.

– Too right you do. Like the plague. Too much information, I say. All bad news that we’d be better off never hearing about any of it.  This is what I’m telling you. In the old days, we never heard about banks going burst in America. We could be throwing the pounds around like sods of turf and America could be a dustbowl like it was in the Thirties, for all we knew. What did we care? I’m telling you, we might never have got ourselves into the mess we’re in today except for the invention of satellite telly.

-How so?

-Well, all the Irish banks got the jitters when they heard about the credit crunch in the States, they stopped lending to the builders and the builders couldn’t build any more houses. Then the banks heard about the property crash as well and stopped giving money to people to buy houses. And all because they switched on Sky News. Need I go on?

I think I can see your logic all right.

– Good man. Now you know my plan. If everybody in the country took up the challenge, we’d be as right as rain in no time. There’s a lot to be said for thinking outside the box. What you don’t know won’t hurt you, as they say. I’m a far happier man today since I stopped watching Brian Dobson and listening to George Lee. No worse off than yesterday anyhow. And just as much money in my pocket. Long may it last. As the old saying goes; no news is good news. Are you in the mood for another?


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