Vaccine passports come into force this week and I bet a lot of you are looking back at normal times wondering how on earth we ended up here.
There’s probably more than one hing you’re thinking of anaw. One person is worrying about youths not getting the vaccine, the other is spoutin bile about how the government are a bunch of dictators and how all the restrictions are LITERALLY (the moaner’s words, no mine) suffocating them.
I wanted to shed some light on something else… it comes in the form of agenda-setting in the media.
For those that are lost already, this is the basic suggestion that media outlets can influence what we think about as important in current affairs. Media organisations use several techniques to get into the minds of consumers and establish a pecking order for what’s most important for the public to know about. They’re no telling us what to think, but they’re definitely telling us what to think about.
The topic of conversation that pops up on your notification screen isny there by coincidence, someone’s made the call to put it there.
I’ll gee you an example. Have you ever wondered why there’s such a big build-up to the American election when it’s on? There’s a huge buzz, folk are getting up early to watch the polls, you get a notification saying Biden’s making gains in one of the states near Texas that you’ve only heard people say on the tele or at a pub quiz. You’ve got thousands of people in Glasgow gathering for an anti-Trump protest.
And if we can just haud on, back up and let that settle in for a second… thousands of people rallying against Donald Trump… in Glasgow?
Trump wasny the most popular figure in Scotland to many… but what was the point of this protest? Was it to make a genuine change? Did people actually think that Donald Trump would check his Twitter, sit back and go christ Nathaniel from Hillhead has made a sign calling me a ‘bawbag,’ I better get a shift on with whatever it is they want me to do?
Erm… I’m gonna put this frankly: naw. I really don’t think he even knew about it let alone batting an eyelid if he did.
Ken what I think of when I try to envisage that?
Have a deek at the documentary called ‘Turning Point’ on Netflix. A fascinating documentary that’ll give you insights about 9/11 that will blow yer nut. In one scene they capture the moment that George Bush was told about the attacks whilst it was happening live. The footage shows one of his security staff whispering something in his ear and his face drops like a 17-year-old that’s just got himself next to the speakers in Sub Club. And for a moment you think, deary me, the pressure that guy will have been under must've been Heinz lentil.
Now… imagine the message whispered in his ear was: ‘Sir, sorry to bother you but this cannot wait. Gemima from Morningside in Edinburgh is marching through the streets saying you’re a ‘pure heid the baw’ for some of the comments you made on Twitter.’
He’d probably pish himsel with laughter and say ‘tell Gemima to mind her own business.’
If you think I’m exaggerating about the content that was on these signs, gawn have a google and look for yourself.
And that’s the thing… it isny Gemima’s business. I’m not saying what those that protested in Glasgow for that day is wrong and they shouldn’t be voicing their opinions. I’m saying why is stuff like that in the forefront of people’s minds? And, by the way, at the forefront of their minds so excruciatingly so that they feel the need to go out, rally the troops and protest about it.
The guy lives in a country that’s 4,000 miles away and I doubt many, if any, in that protest had a democratic say in decisions that are made there.
If you’re under the age of 40, ask your parents this: when you were growing up… was American politics ever really a thing in the news?
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that, since the ‘War on Terror’ flooded television screens, American politics has become part and parcel with keeping up to date about current affairs… IN SCOTLAND. Not saying media outlets are the sole reason but they dinnae half ram it down our throats.
I’ll paint you another picture… what if the same march was aimed at the British Prime Minister, callin him an eejit for sookin up to America aw the time cos some of their leaders’ views are brutal? Or aimed at the Scottish First Minister to put more pressure on the UK to take action? I don’t know about you but that just seems to me like a far more normal way of thinking to me.
Instead, we’re bothered as if we’re actually over there. And nae wonder! If you turn on the news a month before a US election you’d think you’ve just sat down in your gaff on 12th Avenue, back fae a hot-dog-eating competition at the local Baseball stadium in New York or sout.
One example that’s got people thinking about this kinda hing is the news coverage on Covid. You’re hearing a lot of recycled paranoia about empty shelves in your local shops even though, for a lot of people, this has been the case since the start of the pandemic. Or, the comparison of restrictions in other countries compared to the UK and Scotland… or one that’s a biggie for this week: vaccine passports.
In response to an article posted by Sky News about France forcing unpaid leave on frontline workers refusing a vaccine, yer man Joey Husband (a regular punter on Facebook) noticed this:
And ats the thing anaw, there’s not a bad word said. It's like we’re being telt no this is what’s happening everywhere, yous will need to get on wi it.
You never once see an outlet going ‘Do anti-vaccers have a point?’ Or even coverage in a slightly positive light about those that are protesting on Motorways near vaccination centres.
Many will have been moved by the most recent series of Sex Education – a striking moment happened after pupils stood up to old-school, authoritarian views on things like gender… a teacher interrupts Jackson (Head Boy and swimming champion) worrying that what they’d done might’ve been a waste of time. You almost got goosebumps when the teacher then interrupts and says “Standing up for what you believe in is NEVER a waste of time.”
… so does this only apply when your views aren’t in tune wi most other folk? Or do we genuinely mean it when we say that? Cos if there are people out there that feel so strongly about the dangers of the vaccine that they’ll run out onto a motorway wi cars flying past at 70 odd miles an hour, surely they’re due the time of day at least?
An argument I heard by the Scottish Government in retaliation to a question on vaccine passports wis something along the lines of ‘aye, but are you trying to say that yer Frances, Italys, Spains n aw that are wrong and you’re right? Surely no.’
Why is it we’re constantly comparing? Why can’t Scotland be an innovator? Sweden went their own way wi covid… even if you think this was a snide call, why is it countries like that can take a course of action against the grain but we canny? How is it the folk in Parliament that are wantin us to take all political decisions into our own hands through independence are using arguments like ‘here surely we just follow that mob though?’
End of the day, vaccine passports will not solve all our problems with covid. They might help… they might even help a lot. And yet you get the feeling that it’s being debated right now as if it’s the be all end all.