Mostly rumour and innuendo, the most organised gossip that is social media is seen as beneficial by some (freedom of speech, community justice etc etc..).

Through this still new medium, be it Facebook, Twitter or any of the other popular mediums, we are presented with myriad doses of slightly hysterical ‘news’ designed to entrap us in their webs of commercial trade.  And what ‘news’ much of it is, how chilling to learn that an actor I’ve never met was seen not holding the hand of a woman I’ve never heard of which apparently heralds the demise of their relationship. And do I care?

We have entered the age of the voyeur and most of us are complicit.  How naked we feel if we discover that we’ve left out mobile phone at home.  How worried our family and friends if we don’t reply at once.  So we take photos or videos of our private lives, and the private lives of our children and our friends, then remove the moral private tag and send it out on the ‘web’ to mingle for a moment with a billion other friends’ latest photos or videos.  If it’s cute enough, or scandalous enough, it may be passed around by a few hundreds or thousands of fascinated strangers and a much smaller number of actual friends.

So, what’s wrong with all that?  It’s clogging up the system and teaching our children to value information, any information, no matter how unreliable or transient, as more important and interesting than knowledge.

I’m not such a Luddite as I might sound;  I respect and appreciate the great wealth of information and understanding that can be found on the web.  At the same time I am appalled at the ease with which the rants of the ratbag fringe are accepted as the new Gospel, be they anti-vaxxers or climate change deniers or race supremacists.

That so many can be swayed to positions of certainty, beyond the reach of critical analysis, to blind adherence to the doctrine of slogans over research.

We all need scepticism which is founded in the doubts that arise from informed contemplation, and that’s also out there in the Web for those with the patience to look.

Shortly, I will receive a photo or video of my latest grand-daughter’s research of her new world.  I’m looking to that.

John Mortimore