Thursday, August 03, 2006

How is it in your ideal world?

Our daily lives are highly complex affairs, though we rarely recognise that fact.

We interact with a myriad of people - family, friends, acquaintances, colleagues and strangers. Some interactions are planned, many are unplanned. We have prepared responses and we are also required to make many off-the-cuff responses.

We make good decisions, imperfect decisions and outright mistakes.

The good decisions may often involve the telling of lies, the use of flattery, the biting of tongues, the deliberate avoidance of the perceived truth.

The sub-optimal decisions are generally, though not always, arrived at without malice. We misjudge other people’s motivation or needs. We’re in a hurry. We’re not interested. We’ve already made our mind up. We’re deliberately provoked. We lack or lose patience. We act on imperfect or incomplete information or knowledge. We react to what has been done or said by the other party, or pre-empting what we expect as their contribution/reaction, or seeking to settle an old score. We act on something we’ve been told by a third party, which proves to be incorrect.

Sometimes the problem arises because the other party misunderstands what we mean to express or our intent, for good or ill, and an unexpected and unpredicted scenario develops. They arrive at our interaction with their own set of possible inputs and outcomes, so it’s fraught with a double dose of potential for misunderstanding.

Our daily lives are filled with such situations. Depending on how they are evolving before our eyes we make a number of decisions. We change tack. We bite our tongue. We compromise. We attack. We retreat. We kiss and make up. We shut up. We listen. We learn. We apologise. We walk away. Whatever.

Our own lives are a microcosm of national and international politics, but thankfully most of us are only burdened with a fraction of the potential complexities.

Media commentators have lives that are equally complicated. Indeed, with wealth, fame and the circles they move in, they probably have ample opportunity to complicate their lives even more.

Yet put them in front of a microphone and the same media people allow no such ambiguities. They offer black and white analysis of some imaginary black and white world that simply doesn’t exist and has never existed - for us or for them. They demand yes/no answers. They not only want definitive answers and explanations to existing problems and situations, but they want answers to hypothetical future situations - “what will you do if….” etc.. Often these hypothetical scenarios have the potential to exacerbate an already overheated situation if the response is seen or heard by the opposing party to the dispute under discussion.

The media make it virtually impossible for politicians to do what we do every day in our own lives - change their mind, compromise etc.. And, God help us, most politicians seem to collude in this nonsense.

Whatever chance exists to resolve international disputes, I suspect that the role of the media is definitely a double-edged sword. How would any of us, or our relationships, survive if we were forced to endure the equivalent of scrutiny by 24-hour reality TV but with the added twist that we were also subjected to constant interrogation, often of a speculative nature? With everyone you know and don’t know watching.

It's time to call a halt!

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