Having successfully switched off from work for almost 2 weeks, and as it’s Hogmanay I thought it timely to post a quick final 2016 post. I have been trying to think of my 2016 highs and lows, but to be honest I really don’t have the energy or inclination to trawl back through the year. But I do want to thank you, dear reader for taking the time to read my little rants over the year.
Watching/reading and listening to the plethora of yearly round ups, I keep being reminded of something a documentary producer and former boss once said to me. He said, “the trick is to give them what they need, not what they want.” It’s probably been one of the most useful things anyone has ever said to me. Finding out what people need, as opposed to what they say they want has been something I’ve spent most of my professional life doing.
In 2016 the Brexit and Trump results were examples of people voting for what (they thought) they wanted, and politicians and pundits riding an easy rhetoric to appear to be giving people what they wanted but not actually explaining how they would bring about the kind of change that is really needed. The markets are happy just now, but how long will that last? The complications of Brexit haven’t even begun to be understood. The impact of the USA being run like a business (and a business from somewhere in the mid 20th century by the sounds of things) is probably not actually what the “real” people of the USA need.
I had a bizarre experience this week when listening to former Cabinet Minister Michael Gove explaining his statement about not trusting experts. Apparently what he actually meant was that there should have been more rigorous criticality of some of the claims that were made during the Brexit campaign. On that I can agree with him (another example of the madness of 2016 – agreeing even briefly with Gove!) . However I do think that he kind of missed the irony of his statement when referring to academics. Academics based their professional lives and reputation on criticality and rigorous review.
So my new year’s wish is that everyone starts to take a bit of time to engage with trying to understand what it is we all need, be that around climate change, how to sustain our health and (national) health service, education, the role of the UN, international diplomacy, Brexit, and trying to raise the level of public debate and critical questioning of the things that really matter in life. Digital literacy, engagement and participation are going to be key to ensure that we can all do that. But in the meantime I’ll leave you with Mick and the boys to give you a little bit of what you might not either want nor need.