Angry people

From The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (Chapter 1), HHGTTG:

In the beginning the Universe was created.

This has made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.

I’m not trying to espouse nihilism or trivialise recent events (especially in conjunction with my previous HHGTTG post) — I’m well aware I have a penchant for describing current (any?) events and people’s actions through the medium of xkcd or HHGTTG — some of the sights over the past five nights have been profoundly distressing and frustrating (as has some of the reporting).

I’m just not quite sure how to reconcile how I feel about the recent riots (but yes, I truly believe it is rioting/looting and most definitely not “protesting”), without going all Daily Mail (which appears to be fairly standard practice across a number of social media platforms of late).

Comments gratefully received…

8 Comments

  1. I agree with Martin. My view is that the looters are criminals but that they are also the end product of political, economic and social process. Therefore there are valid political points that need to be discussed.

    Meanwhile, your quote from HHGTTG is right on the money (as it usually is). People have always had a reason to be angry about something and the events of recent days are echoes of what has gone before (for as long as humans have lived in societies rather than packs). Life _is_ getting better for everyone but inequality persists, creating anger and resentment on both sides.

    I share your reticence in making any kind of response too Tom. Mostly I have come up with fragments that I have jotted down in my notebooks: various facts and responses to individual aspects of events. I don’t think I will publish them. I have tried to stay away from opinions in the main (apart from perhaps the broad sentiments expressed above), just parping the odd interesting link or retweet on twitter or facebook now and then.

  2. I agree with Martin’s point above — I can understand how segments of society feel disenfranchised and disillusioned, but it’s hard not to think that the actions of the majority of the rioters after the first night appears to be shameless copycat opportunism, ranging from “a bit of fun” to outright disgraceful, rather than a genuine protest against recent events, government policy or any of society’s ills (accepting the caveat of we are only seeing what is being reported by the mainstream media outlets).

    Nevertheless, like Matt I find it hard to make any worthwhile comment on this hugely emotive issue, or any of its causes (which appear to be heavily skewed by political ideology or party affiliation). It currently consists of RTs on Twitter, or asking basic questions e.g. How is looting from shops a political statement? Or how has the rioting spread from London — what is the justification in other cities?

    Maybe their actions are truly nihilistic (or even naive anarchism)?

  3. I agree entirely, I vented my opinion over at http://davidwaldock.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/broken-britain/

    I think a lot of people seem to be showing anger at the effect rather than the underlying causes. It’s not a simple, shallow problem that can be fixed by arming the police and being disgusted. It’s a complex problem in which the issues run deep and which needs grassroots actions and social change.

    Unfortunately, I suspect that I the last thing we’ll get from the current government. Their policies at the moment can only enhance the problems and fan the flames.

  4. One of the things that does seriously disturb me is the profound lack of understanding of technology by our elected representatives*, especially “social media”.

    A communications medium, such as BBM or Twitter, is itself not dangerous, only the actions of people who use it. Banning or controlling it is a dangerous step and undermines our moral authority when we have previously chastised other countries for doing it during civil unrest. Furthermore, by reductio ad absurdum, you could use this rationale to propose new legislation to control or ban fire, because it has been used to cause so much damage over the past few nights!

    I truly hope that we have sensible people advising the Government on technology matters.

    * This is a generalisation, but quite possibly a fair one.

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