I recently read an excellent comic comparing Aldous Huxley and George Orwell’s visions of the future. You can read it here. Huxley’s vision of a society obsessed with trivia vs Orwell’s nightmare of control.
I read it, feeling smug in the certainty that I’m not one of the mugs who are sucked into a whirlpool of trivia, rendering them unable to think about what matters.
I think about serious stuff, I thought. I care about politics!
But then I thought… how quickly the debates move on, and how easy it is to be hurried along – to be thought tedious if you keep talking about an issue once it’s no longer in the news. Or when it’s been in the news too long – Leveson? Who cares, shut up about Leveson already…
For all the smug radio 4 listeners and eager twitter debaters out there… there’s a new pitfall. I fall down it all the time. It’s not about being obsessed with trivia. It’s about being obsessed with important topics but in a trivial way.
I was discussing this with @technicalslip over email: although not everyone is distracted by trivia, it’s still easy to be suckered by the politics of distraction. The 24 hour news cycle flashes something new and shiny in front of our eyes, so we drop what we were doing (or discussing, or thinking about) and pick it up.
Politics of distraction. Or, as I like to think of it, because Up was a very good film, the politics of SQUIRREL!
Here’s a comic I drew about it. Click to embiggen.