Monday, December 26, 2016

No News is Bad News

So now we know: this year it was George Michael.  The downbeat story the media like to thrust upon us over the Christmas break, that is.  Some years ago, of course, they hit the jackpot with that tsunami which killed all those people - that was a real festive spirit dampener.  Most years the media have to be satisfied with an air crash or a horrible murder, but every so often, chance hands them something so catastrophic, tragic or devastating that they don't have to do anything to build it up or shove it in our faces.  Because, before the untimely death of George Michael was announced - on Christmas Day, they just couldn't believe their luck there, I'll bet - the media had been trying to build up the usual roster of tragic accidents and murders you get around this time of year as their Christmas misery stories.  But a Christmas Day fight involving a hundred youths in Woking (the only unusual thing about that was that they usually have mass brawls on a Friday rather than a Sunday) paled into insignificance against the unexpected death of a pop superstar.

Because there is nothing the news media like better than being able to put a downer on our Christmas celebrations.  Now, I know that they'd just respond that they are only reporting the news, they don't make it - they can't help it if celebrities decide to die, disasters strike or killers strike over the festive period.  It's just coincidence, but they're obliged to report it.  Which is true to an extent.  My problem is the way in which they report these things - there's an unmistakable relish with which they approach these stories when they fall over Christmas.  Perhaps it is just that there is so little 'news' about at Christmas (mainly because most of the Western world is spending a couple of days just sitting at home, instead of being out starting wars, committing murders and the like), that they are glad to have anything to report- and if it is something horribly bad, then all the better.  But there always seems to be something else to it - implicit is the idea that we're somehow wrong to be taking time off to do nothing but have fun and relax. So we have to be brought back down from our revelries by being reminded that all of these terrible things are still going on while we're thoughtlessly enjoying ourselves.  Because doing anything but work seems, nowadays, to be seen as anti-social behaviour.  By employers, at least.  I speak from experience, as my desire to take some time off over the Christmas season this year was met with bafflement.  Why would you want to do that - we're getting an extended weekend thanks to Christmas falling on a Sunday this tear, what more do you want, seemed to be the prevailing attitude.  Well, maybe the fact that I'm stressed out and exhausted, having not been able to take any leave since the end of Summer is why I'm desperate for time off, I tried to explain.  But nowadays, that just doesn't seem to be a good enough reason for taking the leave I'm contractually entitled to take.

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