The British news website “The Guardian,” which is one of the ten most popular English language news sites across the world, is putting blinking red lights on certain articles:
You can’t see it in the screenshot, but the dot next to the word “Live” is blinking like an emergency light on that red background.
I don’t visit the front page of The Guardian every day. Most of my news is collected through RSS feeds and other more efficient systems. But I don’t recall ever seeing this before.
Israel attacking the West Bank is something you could actually communicate as an emergency, though these tactical aesthetics still seem relatively extreme to me, even in that case. But the German and UK economies have been having some pretty serious problems since they started this lunatic war against Russia. It’s not really breaking news, let alone an emergency.
Also: Serbia is planning a protest?
Clearly, the implication is not that these threads are emergencies, but that they are live threads, which is something The Guardian has been big on for a while. Again, it’s rare I see their front page. (I check the NYT front page, because the order of the articles is important and tells me what the top stories of the day are in America on TV news, which is not something I sit around watching.)
It seems to me the only reason you would add this emergency light and blood red lining to your news website would be to try to trigger a sense of panic in people.
I don’t know why there are even live threads on some of these topics, but I suppose that’s fine if those articles are successful in gaining clicks or if they think it’s important (it’s basically adding “Twitter functionality” to the site). But if you feel the need to add a color, why not green? And why the need for a blinker?
Surely, this must have been tested through some kind of focus grouping, and people must have answered “this makes me feel nervous, like a crisis is happening,” and then they decided to go with it anyway.
You would think that kind of deliberate subliminal emotional manipulation would violate the stated ethos of The Guardian, no?
Regardless, I think it’s weird, and it made me consider the fact that the media is about to get really crazy about their wars in the near future. Well, they’re already crazy, but it’s clear that they’re going to move into claims that this is now a threat to your personal safety.
They’ve never argued that the Ukraine war could possibly affect anyone’s life, they’ve said it was about fighting for good against the forces of evil (imagine that they think it’s okay to talk to adults this way!). But recently, Biden claimed without evidence that Putin is planning to attack NATO, implying Russia was going to launch an invasion of Western Europe.
I do not expect any of this to get less wacky in the short term.
You’re going to start hearing about “we fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.”
Remember when they said that about Moslems? As if the Iraqi Army was going to ride camels across the Atlantic Ocean and invade the Carolinas? It doesn’t matter if you remember. Many of you, dearest brothers, are too young to remember. But I can tell you as a matter of fact that this happened.
It was constantly used in the media, then in 2007 (six years after 911, when people really should have been over it), George Bush said in a speech to the American Legion:
Every day we work to protect the American people. Our strategy is this: We will fight them over there so we do not have to face them in the United States of America. (Applause.)
So, they are going to start saying really kooky stuff. I promise at some point, you’re going to start hearing about China and Russia planning to invade Alaska.
Americans especially really like this war stuff. They like feeling like they have some great enemy to stand against, and they like being afraid. Most of all, they like feeling that they are very moral for supporting war. They feel very proud of themselves that they are so moral that they are willing to support mass killing of random people who didn’t even do anything wrong all over the world.
Probably, a big part of it is that people are so alienated that war gives them a sort of sense of togetherness through common purpose. You saw this with the coronavirus hoax as well. People loved the idea of a crisis, and “this is our fight” and “we’re all in it together.”
There is a natural drive for this sort of thing, but I’m very certain there are healthier ways to express a sense of national togetherness.