This afternoon just as I was about to write this post I was faced with some ‘Breaking News’ which popped up on my phone: BREAKING: Schools will open in January.
I read this again just to make sure I had understood it correctly. I then checked the source – yes it was from the Sunday Times, all-be-it tweeted by some random organisation I hadn’t heard of.
Over the last couple of years we have had all sorts of ‘Breaking News’ stories thrown at us – most of which have been to tell us we are all going to be locked up because too many people are going to hospital with a headache. The news in question was, unsurprisingly, a COVID related headline and it was telling us that despite Omnicron, Schools will open.
Surely schools opening in January is not news? Apart from possibly 2020, schools have been opening in January since God was a boy. Surely to be worthy of breaking news and taking over the Home Screen on my mobile telephonic device, I want to see something which is unusual or different from the norm. “Boris has had a few words and no one can ever breathe outside again”, would be worthy of breaking news because it puts a different perspective on how life might be going forward.
All of which got me thinking. I do not pretend to be a qualified scientist or health expert on any level. And so I do not pass comment on Covid or whether I agree or disagree with the government’s plan or current actions. There are other websites where you can argue about that and plenty of people who will be delighted to give you their opinion.
My current gripe is with the media. Not any particular newspaper or journalist but just the whole concept which is ‘the media’. A couple of months ago, our lives were completely disrupted because a journalist somewhere noticed that one of the pumps at his local petrol station had run out of fuel. This prompted every newspaper and news website to report that Britain was suffering a major fuel crisis which was going to be a million times worse than the oil crisis of 1973.
To make matters worse Boris then got involved and urged people not to panic buy. Whilst he was technically correct, this of course had the opposite effect with Mr and Mrs Bloggs who then interpreted this as a hidden message that a major disaster was about to unfurl.
Consequently the Great British Public jumped up from their sofas and immediately took their family hatchback to the nearest petrol station. At this point they filled their tanks, along with any other vessel which would hold fuel. Not surprisingly, ten minutes later the entire fuel stocks in the UK had been relocated from the filling stations to the driveways of every single housing estate in the land.
Now of course there is nothing wrong with keeping your car topped up with fuel. The issue was that the majority who had filled their cars with fuel then decided to go back and sit on the sofa for the next few weeks. As a result, the rest of us who actually have jobs to do and places to be, then couldn’t actually buy any fuel.
Should we blame Mr and Mrs Joe Public for the chaos which ensued for a couple of weeks? No I actually don’t think we should. Despite what Boris said, people went out to buy fuel because they were told there was a fuel crisis and filling stations were running out of fuel. And because people then went out and bought fuel they didn’t actually need, this story then rang true and all over the country there was a decided lack of fuel available to purchase on the forecourt.
As I understand it there was never a fuel shortage. The only reason why all the petrol stations ran out of fuel was because the entire nation woke up one morning to some breaking news on their phones and immediately went out to put fuel into their jalopy.
On any given day statistically some cars will have full tank of fuel, some might be nearing empty and the vast majority will probably have around half a tank. For most people this is a reasonable state of affairs and will be sufficient for their daily motoring needs. Of course if you change this status quo in favour of all vehicles having a full tank then it doesn’t take a genius to work out that we wont have any fuel left at the filling stations.
Ultimately the blame for this has to lie with the journalists and the media companies who seem to delight in giving us bad news. And even when they give us good news (or indeed no news) it is dressed up in such a way that it might suddenly turn into a disaster at any given moment.
I don’t know how the pandemic is going to develop or change over the next few days, weeks and months. And, like everyone else, I will be following the advice which we are given, regardless of the impact it might have on my business, my personal health and those around me. That’s fine because we are all in this together and we must all play our part in keeping everyone safe and working towards a return to a new normal at some point in the future.
Last year I nearly lost everything due to the sudden nature of the first lockdown. And that’s also fine because I am aware there were many thousands or people who were put in a far worse position than me.
Let us hope that the news of schools re-opening in January remains just a simple story about something which is going on as part of our expected daily lives rather than the precursor to a series of news events which only serve to cause chaos throughout the nation.