Hurrah for Complexity

Hurrah For Complexity

A question for you - are you someone who enjoys keeping up with the News? We live in an age when there is access to the news 24 hours day. We are surrounded by people telling us what’s happening, whether on the TV, or on the Radio, on Social Media , or in good old-fashioned newspapers.

We are surrounded by News. But is all this information as useful to us as we might think? Might all this News actually have a negative effect on how we live our lives?

One problem is that the News represents only a sample of what is happening in the world.  What constitutes a “newsworthy” story?  Who makes this decision?

Another problem is that there is huge pressure to simplify everything and everyone. Some degree of simplification is, perhaps, inevitable; but over-simplification can have serious implications. It can move us away from the complex realities of our world and lead us into a world of fantasy and make-believe. The culture of the soundbite turns real human beings, with all their complexity and inconsistencies, into one-dimensional stereotypes. 

A further problem is how the News deals with questions of morality. Generally, the News will try to take what it considers to be a “balanced” approach on ethical issues - it will have one person speaking on one side of an issue, and then find someone to speak on the other side.

This sounds all very fair and objective. But what if there are more than two-sides to an issue?  Furthermore, might there be situations where the “balanced” approach is actually inappropriate? I’m thinking of ethical situations where there is something which is manifestly  evil, and the attempt to find someone to justify it, in the name of journalistic balance, is nothing less than the abandonment of basic human decency. For example, what should we think of someone who attempted to justify Racism or Sexism?

So the reality is that the world is a complex place, and that human beings are complex. Very few issues are black and white.

This might sound an obvious thing to say, but our Media tends to assume that the world is simple and that pigeon-holing one another is a good thing.

It’s good to remind ourselves that things are more complex than the latest tweet might suggest. God has given us ears to listen to one another, and brains to think about things. Let’s use them!

Fr Jason