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Old Media Vs New Media

On the BBC’s Politics Live show, Andrew Neil recently interviewed Ben Shapiro, the conservative political commentator and popular member of New Media.

Neil argued that Shapiro and other members of New Media were coarsening public debate with their work. He implied that videos glorifying the intellectual prowess of Shapiro whilst he ‘destroys’ some leftist commentator on trans rights was not conducive with having a healthy refined debate.

A phenomenon that has become synonymous with New Media, even when some of the hype videos include members of the old guard.

There are just as many ‘HitchSlap’ videos on Youtube as there are ‘Ben Shapiro Destroys…’ clips.

And this serves as a reminder that depending on which algorithm of content you are consuming, your ability to enjoy the echo chamber is in direct opposition to the development of public discourse.

Neil’s tactics were Old Media standard. Bringing up old tweets in an interview is entertaining for a viewer to watch but it exacerbates the coarsening of debate. It actually serves to encourage the viewer to pick a side, rather than critically think about the text Shapiro had written and was there to talk about.

Would it help to further debate if Shapiro sat asking Neil about the decisions he had made on Iraq, on Climate Change or on working for Rupert Murdoch, when he had just written a book about the state of the western world?

Probably not. So how are we expected to move forward when we are wasting time trying to undercut one another with ‘gotcha’ tactics and embarrassing overconfidence against those we need to be ready to have an in depth discussion with.

Both Old and New Media are flawed when it comes to exploring and encouraging ideas in the political sphere. This interview proves that. Shapiro’s book was barely even spoken about.

But perhaps that’s punishment for his complete and utter fragility in this interview and Neil’s expert humbling of the New Media man.

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Do we need Assisted Dying?

Four years ago the Assisted Dying Bill was voted down in Parliament. In a discussion printed in the Easter edition of the Spectator, Douglas Murray and Sam Leith look at the consequences of such a Bill and the effects it would have on society.

In the UK, dignityindying.org.uk supports the assisted dying bill. It stresses the difference between the law in Switzerland and the one they themselves want to see introduced in the UK.

They believe “assisted dying should be controlled by the dying person.” They want a law matching more closely to the US, where in Oregon for instance, the bill has remained unchanged since its inception in 1997, requiring “the dying person to end their own life and not permit another person to do it for them.”

I would have put myself firmly in the camp of Leith, before properly considering the article. I support individual liberty and less intervention from the state. But the arguments Murray made were particularly evocative. Supporting individual liberty appeals to me logically, but Murray’s protection of the sanctity of life made me feel like I was choosing between my head and my heart.

The only easy answer the article did provide me with – was who was the liberal and who was the conservative.

When Leith stated “I would feel it was a bloody cheek if I wanted to die and the state told me it was their business, not mine.” I felt a certain injustice.

The idea of knowing you’ve paid into the government; you’ve paid your taxes, you’ve been law-abiding, and yet you still can’t receive a relief that would send you on your way with peace and dignity, is an injustice for individual liberty. It does nothing but place power in the hands of the state. It’s a missed opportunity to assist a terminally ill person in being able to control the inevitability of their death. A means of handing power to the individual, especially if they have no other means of seeking the result they want due to socio-economic barriers.

However, this argument did seem less compelling after I’d considered the Sanctity of Life argument that Murray provides. Leith rightly argued that it “seems odd that an abstract concept of the sanctity of life is more important than the individual life itself” but then I felt a sense of resonance when Murray claimed. “Neither you nor I nor anyone else can fully guess what happens when a society that has generally run on the injunction [choose life] being significant decides there’s a parenthesis you can add to it.”

The strength of that statement strikes a chord. Especially in a modern world where the male suicide rate is so high and many claim younger generations are less stoic than their predecessors. It may be a perfectly obvious statement: but many people do not need the encouragement to give up.

The general consensus may be that things aren’t that great. And maybe they’re neither better nor worse than they have always been. But the difference is – the option to seek out an assisted death was never an option before.

If the option became available now (and even if it was only available to those who are terminally ill and pass all the necessary requirements) it could very seriously destabilise the foundation the choose life injuction has provided for us all these years. It may lead to deeper suffering and larger suicide statistics across all society. People may start to bridge the gap between knowing they have to carry on and see well actually, there’s legislation in place that shows me some people don’t have to at all. So why should I?

I can’t argue with Murray’s response to this aspect of the debate. I believe it would profoundly affect society: especially those struggling with mental health. It could undermine the encouragement we need to just keep going sometimes.

So if the bill were to be passed, I would hope I was wrong. I’d hold tight to the hope that the sanctity of life isn’t catastrophically altered and remain somewhat in favour of its passing: for the sake of individual liberty.

Last rights: A debate on Euthanasia by Douglas Murray and Sam Leith – The Spectator Easter Special 20th April 2019 p.22-p.24

Turning Failure into Achievement

Peterson explains that processing experience takes place amongst three levels.

  1. Firstly – The experience affects your body, i.e. you sweat, or run, or fight.
  2. Secondly – An emotional response takes over.
  3. Thirdly – You’re finally able to think about it.

Whilst listening to Peterson’s explaination of experience, I started to think about memory and failure. You often find people struggling to achieve their goal. They seem to be repeating the same process over and over expecting a different result. They believe next time it will be different; they just have to work harder, for longer, and take better care: to the point of insanity, as Einstein is known to have described it.

This habit seems to be a result of being taught that hard work = achievement. Yet as many of us know, there are many other factors in achievement. And I’m interested in why we resist acknowledging this?

Is it because the concept of having to strategize another way of getting what we want seems so overwhelming and impossible sometimes? A look into the unknown. A step towards something we don’t know how to tackle. Which when Peterson says “You didn’t know how to master that place and time” exemplifies our failure.

Failure was the first thing I considered. It was the first thing that jumped out at me, presumably because failure can result in some hard hitting trauma: an inability to step up to the occasion or take part ever again.

And if an experience is in three parts, as Peterson adds “You haven’t mined the experience for everything it can teach you.” You need to return to the memory of the experience to overcome your failure. You have to go through the three part process to contrucively resolve the trauma.

This is a very simple conclusion to gather but I found it quite insightful and a reminder most of all, that experience is experience whether it is negative or positive. Some experiences are more positive than others. Sure. But objectivity must be cultivated. It’s better to think – What am I going to do differently if this happens to me again? Than, I can’t do this and I never will.

To do what we need to do, we need to have an awareness of the effect certain events are having on our mental health. Our experiences must be taken and “mined” in order for us to work on ourselves.

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