Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Where do we go from here?

Whilst I was walking into town this morning to do a few last bits of Christmas shopping I listened to one of Radio 4's many excellent programmes. This one was called 'The Long View', and today's subject was diaries through the ages, from Pepys to vlogging. One of the contributors - I forget who - suggested that blogs are just a form of diary, and a diary is just an act of ego; a projection of ourselves we want to make to the outside world. This got me thinking - do I write this for myself, or do I write it for anonymous readers? Is it an act of ego; do I want those readers - you - to think of me in a particular way?

I haven't answered those questions yet. What I do know, however, is that there are several times a year when I look back at what I've written in the past. I find it interesting, which leads me to think I write mainly for myself, and if other people ind it interesting too, well, that's a happy accident. I don't look back for a historical record of what was going on at a particular time, more to see what I was thinking at that point. More often than not of course, given the provenance of this blog, it's running or cycling-related stuff. But writing about that stuff week-in, week-out bores me, to be frank. I'm not bored of doing the events, or even the training for them, but the process of preparation and completion doesn't seem to merit a higher standing than any other number of potential topics.

So having written this time last year that 2014 would be a back-to-basics year when it came to subject matter, I'm now rescinding that promise, to myself mainly. From here on, any subject is fair game. I'm a grumpy middle-aged man for goodness sake, I need an outlet for my prejudices, views, observations and disappointments. 

So let's start with one of the aforementioned, briefly today. It's not going to be Christmas-related - that would be lazy and obvious. It's about freedom of speech, and Twitter in particular. I understand why people who make threats of violence via that medium are arrested and sometimes charged, and agree with it. But I read this afternoon that a 19 year old from Sunderland has been arrested for making an offensive 'joke' about the Glasgow bin lorry crash yesterday. I read what he wrote on Twitter yesterday. It was offensive, insensitive in the extreme, and deeply unfunny. But I completely fail to see what law he might have been breaking that would require his arrest. I worry that this is just the latest incident in the policing - official and otherwise - of what constitutes acceptable views. I fear we're going down the path of the censorship of thoughts and their expression. And from there, it's a short step to the undermining of democracy itself. Though I do wonder whether as many people believe in that idea as used to be the case.

On that happy note, it's time for a sweet sherry and to wish you a very happy Christmas.
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