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Life

Eurovision

The Eurovision Song Contest was held this evening in Rotterdam. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s the annual competition that launched ABBA into the stratosphere in the 1970s, and was the subject of the wonderful movie starring Rachel McAdams and Will Ferrell last year.

While I wasn’t surprised at the outcome of the competition itself, I was surprised at the reaction to the outcome by a number of people I know.

Before getting around to that, it’s worth noting that in my mind the Eurovision Song Contest has some significant problems.

Because of the number of countries now involved, “Semi Finals” are held – meaning many of the more original bands are filtered out by juries of “professionals” that select the finalists. Unfortunately those juries tend to vote politically – meaning that neighbouring countries vote for each other.

Thankfully half of the vote in the finals is made up by a public vote – which often redresses the balance – but it’s too late for the bands that have already been removed from the competition by the afore mentioned biased juries.

There’s a damning phrase about committees (called juries in this case) – “designed by committee” often means the end result is a watered down mess that nobody actually wanted, but they are willing to live with if it means they don’t have to do anything more.

Getting back to the actual subject of this post, I headed to Facebook and Twitter after the competition finished, and started reading people’s reactions. I was stunned.

“The winner was terrible – nowhere near as good as (insert winner from 30 years ago)”

“Everyone in Europe hates us – what do you expect?”

“Most of the music was terrible – nothing I would ever listen to!”

“Did you see what half of them were wearing? I would be embarrassed!”

I could go on – for quite some time.

I suppose I’m just surprised (and not surprised at all) about the blinkered, insular view that seems to be so prevalent throughout a wide cross-section of people here.

So many people seem to think that their opinions are shared by the majority, because they are shared by the small circle of people that re-inforce their often bigoted, prejudiced, narrow minded, racist, sexist, or outdated opinions on music, fashion, style, culture, and everything in-between.

The social networks have a part to play in this of course – I’ve written about this before – about the algorithmic timeline surrounding people with concordant views. It’s dangerous. Unless we are challenged, we do not learn or grow. Plato wrote about it sixteen hundred years go in his “Allegory of the Cave”. It seems many people still haven’t learned.

How do I turn this around?

Perhaps with the admission that our entry into the competition was really, really awful – and that I loved many of the more spirited, individual acts that performed throughout this year’s show.

I just wish there were a few more people with open minds, and open hearts taking notice of the direction the world is headed, who might make a quiet stand against it with me.

Categories
Life

Lunchtime Thoughts

It’s Monday lunchtime, and you find me sitting in the junk room at home. I’ve been here on weekdays since the middle of March. Nearly four months now. The only places I have visited in town during that time have been the grocery store, and the pharmacy. I’ve been on a few long walks (even with a broken toe), which we have dubbed “mental health walks”.

This weekend we visited a national trust property called “Basildon Park”, and wandered around the grounds of the estate for a few hours. We took a picnic, and met my in-laws there. While walking, we viewed any and all strangers with suspicion.

Work has slowed down ever-so-slightly this week. Owing to shortened working hours, and various co-workers being furloughed, I’ve found my days pretty full. Busy is good though. Busy stops you looking at the world around you too much and being horrified at the ignorance, division, and idiocy going on seemingly everywhere.

I’ve quickly learned that it’s best not to have balanced opinions about anything at the moment – there’s a strong sense from the most vocal on social media platforms that if you’re not with them, you are against them – there is no middle ground. Facts, opinions, truth, and lies have been stirred into a toxic stew that is fashioned into whatever narrative people wish to subscribe to or promote. It doesn’t help that “defence of self” is such a strong instinct in the wilfully ignorant.

Anyway.

I’m listening to the “Mellow Morning” playlist on Spotify, complete with adverts every few minutes. Music has been one of the huge benefits of working from home – filling the room with an endless stream of songs and stories. I tent to pick playlists completely at random – and rarely know the names of any of the bands, artists, or tracks. If one of the kids were to walk in and ask after a track (which they will not, because it’s Dad music), I typically wouldn’t be able to tell them.

Time for another coffee perhaps.

p.s. I cut all my hair off again.