helbling: (vampire)
[personal profile] helbling
**Disclaimer: I'm very tired, but I wanted to make this mess of a post, so please excuse me if I occasionally ramble off on a tangent or accidentally a word.**

So, it's no surprise I'm voting Remain tomorrow, if you've been paying attention to what I've reposted on my feed. While I have tried to keep what I promote to articles or sources that are informative and well resourced, they've all had one particular bias. (It's worth noting that I honestly don't think I'd have been able to find Leave posts with the same level of fact checking and information, because they have not run that sort of campaign).

The vast, vast majority of my feed is also voting Remain. So honestly, this post has little point if I were aiming to swap you to my side; if you're reading it, chances are, you're already there. Which is good, I suppose, because that's not really what I want to talk about.

What I want to talk about is the fact there should never have been a referendum in the first place. I do not have, and do not have the time to gain, the knowledge and experience required to make a truly informed decision here. Neither do the vast majority of the British public. We elect officials to act in our best interests. Experts provide data and break downs of that data for them to use to decide. It is the officials' full time JOB to turn that data into actions that will benefit the British people. What we're all going to be doing tomorrow is mostly closing our eyes and pinning the tail on the donkey; going by gut based on who has told us what. I am hoping and praying that the majority of voters go with the evidence supplied by the experts rather than the propaganda peddled by those who need your vote to keep their (often ridiculously high) income, but I suspect it will be closer than I'd like.

So why are we here? There are a few possibilities, but I have a theory why, and if it's true, it's the reason why there is a referendum is also the reason it's going to be so close tomorrow.

And, in my theory, the reason is the media. Newspapers in particular, to be honest.

Papers aren't doing so well (or shouldn't be) in modern days. Their format, whereby they provide an infodump of the news from the last 24 hours at the beginning of the day, and that's it, doesn't mesh well with our lifestyles - those of us who live on the net (I can't claim 'youngsters' here, I'm 31 FFS) are far more used to, and get far more use out of, constant microstreams of information that come in throughout the day delivering up to date news. Some have a decent online presence, but it's nothing compared to the % of the market they used to command, given the big names in online news are BBC, Huffington Post and, of all things, Buzzfeed. My observation has been that rather than adapt their format to this new way of obtaining and processing information, they have instead adapted their content to induce more people to buy. Namely, the sheer amount of alarmism and fear-mongering they promote and peddle.

Additional disclaimer: I might be entirely wrong. Nostalgia is a tricky beast, as the Leave campaign well knows, but as best I can recall in my youth, headlines and articles contained nowhere near the levels of overt racism, xenophobia, and what I term 'proud and righteous ignorance' they do now.

And the effects are far reaching. One of Grove's frequently used lines is 'People are fed up of being told what to do by experts!' What? Used to be people strove to BECOME experts. Now they boast about ignoring them as if it's a mark of pride. Similarly, train-wreck journalism has meant that the far-right has been lent an air of unearned legitimacy, because politics is a lot harder to sell, because it looks a lot more BORING, when you strip it of sensationalism. The headline 'Vote on issue X defeated by respectable majority' is a lot less likely to sell than 'Far-Right Politician says He Will *insert discriminatory action* Against *Minority*!'

And it's had a palpable effect. We've gotten used to seeing these extremist idiots on our front pages, and mentioned in the same breath as the prime minister, as if they're of equal importance. We've sort of made room for them on the political scene, as if they're a frequently invited guest that we need to appease and make allowances for, rather than what they ought to be - fringe extremists who should be a foot note at best. Until eventually, we end up pandering to them, at least in part, to win 'that section' of the vote.

And thus we have this referendum. Because a right-wing idiot screamed loud enough that he wanted it, and the media, rather than treating it with the proportionality it deserved, handed him a loud speaker.

Sidenote: I've heard tell that some companies are gearing up to sue the Leave campaign for false claims. It is my fondest wish that everyone who has made a patent and willful falsehood in this race gets dragged through the legal mud. Maybe it would lead to less ridiculous campaigns in future.

Anyway, obviously, it's severely impacted British politics, and the voting patterns of the British public. Because we've got the nation going to the polls tomorrow to vote on something we should never have been asked to vote on, and apparently half of them are proudly proclaiming they're not going to be listening to those damned 'experts'. I keep having flashbacks to listening to American Republicans talk about things like gun control and global warming. We have lost the right to mock them about Trump, we really have.

So, what can we do? Not a lot, to be honest. The press commission can police what is printed but not what *isn't* printed; they can't do a square thing about what proportion of a newspaper is devoted to which candidate, whose agenda and campaign promises they print and laud and whose they ignore entirely.

But what *I* can do, and I intend to, is never buy from them again. Most of my generation already don't bother, but it can be one more straw on the damned camel. And maybe, just maybe, those papers can die at the same time the man who owns most of them does, and it will get better...not for our generation. But for the next one.
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