Our colum­nist takes aim at colum­nists.

GQ (Australia) - - INSIDE - Char­lie Pick­er­ing

By the time you read this, Donald J Trump will have taken the oath of of­fice and be­come the 45th Pres­i­dent of the United States.* A note­wor­thy fact is that he’s ac­tu­ally the 44th Pres­i­dent – Grover Cleve­land was elected on two oc­ca­sions and for rea­sons lost to the sands of time, is counted twice. But that’s not the most note­wor­thy in­ci­dent – that hon­our goes to the sim­ple fact that Donald J Trump, most fa­mous for be­ing a re­al­ity TV star, is the new leader of the free world. Right now, opin­ion colum­nists the world over are hy­poth­e­sis­ing about what the world will be like un­der Pres­i­dent Trump. If the past 12 months have taught us any­thing, it’s that opin­ion colum­nists are ter­ri­ble at pre­dic­tions. They were sure that the Brexit ref­er­en­dum would fail. They were sure that Hil­lary would win. They were pos­i­tive that Ge­or­gia would pick Matty in The Bach­e­lorette. Against all the odds, sound rea­son­ing, hot editorial takes and bet­ter judge­ment, none of these things hap­pened. Trump will be Pres­i­dent. Bri­tain will be an is­land. And Lee and Ge­or­gia will be grac­ing the cover of magazines for weeks to come. It’s here that I’ll make a re­al­is­tic pre­dic­tion – the colum­nists will have learnt noth­ing. They’ll be bash­ing away say­ing what to­mor­row will be when few of them have turned their editorial abil­ity to two more press­ing ques­tions – what just hap­pened and what is hap­pen­ing now? Un­less we can fig­ure them out, then not only do we not know what will hap­pen next, we’ll be woe­fully un­pre­pared. OK, so what just hap­pened? Ba­si­cally, the in­ter­net. Hu­mans have ac­cess to vastly more in­for­ma­tion than they’ve ever had be­fore, or could ever pos­si­bly hope to process, let alone re­tain. We spend less time than ever think­ing about things. We just con­sume, be­fore mov­ing on to the next click. At the same time, in­for­ma­tion can be pumped into the world by any­one. Some of it is yelling opin­ions at peo­ple. Other parts are in­sults that would be deemed un­fit for civil so­ci­ety only 10 years ago. Some of it’s good, by peo­ple who ap­ply jour­nal­is­tic rigour. Some of it’s opin­ion, with­out fac­tual un­der­pin­nings, but dressed up as good in­for­ma­tion. And some of it’s fake made to look real. The re­sult is that we have no agreed set of facts upon which to base our de­ci­sions as peo­ple and as so­ci­eties. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, this tech­no­log­i­cal leap has cre­ated a truly global econ­omy. In­stead of a com­pany com­pet­ing within a state, it’s com­pet­ing with busi­nesses on the other side of the world. This has been great for some – tech and me­dia com­pa­nies have be­come bil­lion­aire fac­to­ries. The peo­ple at the top are bet­ter off than they’ve ever been. But the peo­ple at the bot­tom are sink­ing. Some jobs have changed coun­tries. Many more have been re­placed by tech­nol­ogy. A lot of peo­ple are worse off while they have seen oth­ers soar. And they’ve seen politi­cians fo­cus al­most en­tirely on them­selves while do­ing lit­tle for the peo­ple who need help. So, with trust in in­sti­tu­tions such as gov­ern­ment and the news me­dia at an all-time low, no re­li­able in­for­ma­tion with no time to think about it, acute eco­nomic un­cer­tainty and a world in a truly chaotic tran­si­tion be­tween the past and the fu­ture, some des­per­ate de­ci­sions have been made. In the case of Trump and Brexit, the choice was made to be­lieve those who said they could go back to the past. They chose the can­di­dates who, with a healthy dose of blam­ing out­siders, swore to un­scram­ble the most com­pli­cated one-way omelette ever cre­ated. A not en­tirely un­rea­son­able de­ci­sion, be­cause in a world of noth­ing but shit, why not choose the shit that smells the best? And what’s hap­pen­ing now? Many peo­ple are wait­ing for their bet to pay off. Colum­nists are telling peo­ple what their odds are, while pow­er­ful op­por­tunists are us­ing this mo­ment of chaos and mis­in­for­ma­tion to look af­ter them­selves. We still have no agreed set of facts. And a man whose high­est pre­vi­ous ac­co­lade was mem­ber­ship of the World Wrestling En­ter­tain­ment Hall Of Fame is now the leader of the free world. We’re in un­charted wa­ters, to say the least. What’s next? Don’t ask me – I’m just a colum­nist. But I wish Ge­or­gia and Lee every hap­pi­ness.


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.