Tony Blair’s speech on “Public Life” yesterday is being called the “feral beast” speech because of a specific use of the term to the media’s pack mentality in the vicious 24-hour news cycle. That is not the heart and soul of the speech. Ironically the coverage of the speech itself proves Blair’s point – look at stories here and here and here. T
Blair states the point of his speech clearly right at the start:
My principal reflection is not about “blaming” anyone. It is that the relationship between politics, public life, and the media is changing as a result of the changing context of communications in which we all operate; no-one is at fault – it is a fact; but it is my view that the effect of this change is seriously adverse to the way public life is conducted; and the we need… a proper and consered debate about how we manage the future, in which it is in all our interests that the public is properly and accurately informed.
He goes on…
I am going to say something that few people in public life will say, but most know is absolutely true: a vast aspect of our jobs today..is coping with the media, its sheer scale, weight, and hyperactivity. At points it literally overwhelms…
The speech isn’t an attack on the media as much as it is an attack on the frenetic world in which we live. The media merely embodies that frenetic world. We live in a world driven by hype and by our constant need to be stimulated and entertained and amused. We need and want more, more, more. Who is going to give it to us? The media. From the biggest Hollywood studio to the smallest blog, we want the media to push our buttons. We want controversy, we want fighting. From the media’s perspective it is what drives advertising and visits – controversy = revenue.
I know from my own world here that if I blog something controversial I get factors more traffic. Look at the comment boards. When someone posts something incendiary it gets us all going. I am obviously not attacking anyone, I’m merely observing the nature of our lives today. Tony Blair was doing the same thing just on a much grander scale.
What can be done? I don’t know. Technology can’t be undone. More laws aren’t going to do it either. The only way the world changes – as trite as this sounds – is for us to change and the best way for us to change is to draw near to God in silence and reflection and meditation and praise and worship and thanksgiving. Those things slow us down. We need to be slowed down.