Thursday, 13 January 2011

Keeping people informed

in an emergency is vital. It saves lives. I could go on and say a great deal more but that is all I need to say.
As part of the business of keeping people informed our ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) has had extended national news services instead of the usual local parochial service. Now I would have thought that was important and that it would have been welcomed by most people. Not so.
Several of the locals have been complaining. They do not want to know about "all that doom and gloom" in Queensland and New South Wales and "so what if the Murray is flooding. We can't do anything about it". The television programmes individuals in their households like to watch have been put on hold for a few days. This is apparently a catastrophe - for them - especially during school holidays because "the kids are bored enough as it is".
I do not know whether I have merely been unfortunate enough to strike a small number of people who grumble about anything or whether this is something worse. I know about "compassion fatigue" but this seems to be about something different. They really do not want to know.
Now my father avoids watching the news but it is not because he does not want to know or does not care. If anything he cares too much. He worries and wishes he was young enough and fit enough to help. I do watch the news - but I watch it selectively. I do not trouble myself with the latter part of the bulletins which discuss sport in detail. This is of no interest to me. However I know sport is an all consuming passion for other people so I say nothing. Currently my father and I are missing the one television programme we do occasionally watch. The short documentary programme "Global Village" has, once again, been replaced by sport - this time the "Paris-Dakar" car rally (which is misnamed as it is actually being held in South America). We might grumble a little to each other but we have not said anything to anyone else. Global Village will return eventually.
But the grumblers seem to believe that their lives should not be disrupted because of a catastrophic event somewhere else in the country in which they live. They seem to be quite unaware that it does and will affect them well into the future. There will be an economic impact on everyone in Australia, indeed a global economic impact. Their response to this was a shrug and "It won't be that bad" and, in one case, "That's a load of nonsense. They are just saying that to try and get people to donate."
Do we get too much information these days. Is the only way to cope with information to switch off, to stop taking it in? I find it hard to believe the lack of concern and compassion. Whatever happened to the Australian concept of "mateship"?

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