Monday, April 16, 2018

Off the Beaten Path

Ever feel like you are gradually losing touch with the world?  Increasingly, I find events which, once upon a time would have held some kind of significance for me, completely passing me by.  They barely register on my radar.  As a for instance, I'm told that the Grand National was run over the weekend, yet I was barely aware that it had happened.  Now, I'm not a gambling man and have no real interest in horse racing, but the Grand National has always been one of those cultural events which traditionally we all take an interest in.  Now, the reason why the National has progressively fallen off of my radar over the past few years could lie with the way it has been treated by broadcasters. Back in the day, it was always on the BBC and, consequently, everyone knew when it was on, who was running, the whole damn lot, such is the reach of the national broadcaster.  Just about everyone is likely to tune into a BBC channel at some point during the week, so the chances of being exposed to a trail for something like the National was very high.  But then the TV rights to UK horse racing passed to Channel Four.  Unfortunately, Channel Four and its family of channels just don't have the same reach as the BBC: fewer people watch them, so fewer people were likely to be aware of when things like the Grand National were coming up.  Certainly, I began to lose track of it during this period.  Clearly, I wasn't the only one, as viewing figures for TV coverage of horse racing declined significantly.

But nowadays the rights lie with ITV, which has a similar reach to the BBC.  Yet still the event's visibility seemed low.  Then again, it might just be me - I don't watch a great deal on ITV, so my exposure to trails for horse racing are limited.  More than that, it just seems to be yet another event that I just don't seem to be able to muster any interest in any more.  The Boat Race is another such cultural event I've lost touch with, despite the fact it is still carried by the BBC.  Again, i'm not especially interested in rowing, but it was always one of those things you always watched, always knew the result of, watched the build up to - just like the Grand National.  Perhaps it is an age thing.  Then again, maybe it isn't just me, perhaps the decreased visibility of these once 'must see' cultural events is a reflection of the way society has become more fragmented: perhaps shared cultural experiences are a thing of the past, usurped by the connectivity of modern media as the cement which brings us together.  Then again, perhaps it is an age thing on my part.  I'm at an age now when i find myself completely out of touch with modern popular culture: I have no idea who most of the so called 'celebrities' who appear in the media are; I have no idea what is in the charts; contemporary film releases rarely hold any interest for me and most current 'must see' TV seems a turn off for me - too pretentious and self-referential.  I feel completely alienated by modern pop culture.  Increasingly, I find myself off of the beaten track. I've no doubt that my recent bout of illness which kept me off work for weeks contributed to a sense of isolation but, nonetheless, the further away from the mainstream I drift, the happier I feel.  Here's to being out of touch!



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