by Jayne Ozanne, Editor of Via Media News and Director of the Ozanne Foundation
Families. They affect us all – for better or for worse.
Some are so close knit that they never let anyone through their metaphorical front door, whilst others quite literally wash all their dirty linen in public and leave it hanging there to dry!
Families are the one thing that most of us have no choice at all of being part of – as Harper Lee famously said: “you can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family”.
Interestingly families are one of the things that comedians – old and new – love focusing on. From Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s award-winning Fleabag, to one of the world’s most famous families, The Simpsons. Perhaps I should say the world’s most famous fictional families? For there is of course one family that is known and loved above all others, made up of real people, with real lives, who have real feelings, and bleed when cut – although I very much doubt that their blood is actually blue. I speak of course of our Royal Family, not that portrayed by the drama series The Crown, but the one made up of individuals who have had no choice but to accept the role into which they were born.
Very few of us know what it is like to live under the intense scrutiny of the 24-hour media. It is, I am assured, utterly relentless. The advent of social media has made this undoubtedly worse. For we now live in a world where diplomacy is conducted in 250-characters and news broken via Instagram.
Never has there been a greater need for clarity of communication that is impervious to spin in order for it to be believed and trusted. However, ironically, never has there been such a soundbite culture that demands fast news, at the risk of it morphing into fake news.
And so we start to witness the casualties – most recently in the form of a certain young couple who have declared that they want their lives and their privacy back. We blame the insatiable appetite of the media, without recognising that it is us – the public – who are the ones that are hungry for news.
It reminds me that there was once a young man who also found it hard to escape the multitudes. Who had people monitoring his every move, and criticising his every decision – including his own family. His popularity and fame were legendary, and ultimately led to him being crucified by the very crowds who had originally feted him. Jesus of course was prepared for this.
It is however a sobering reminder about the role we, the public can play. At the start of this New Year, perhaps it’s time to check our appetite for certain types of news.