A quick thanks if you have signed up in the last week. We had an odd surge. I can only assume we have reached the point of lockdown where most of us have read the entire back catalogue of modern literature and watched every available minute of Netflix and have, in maddening desperation, reached for any new content we can find.
And, so, here we are. At my newsletter. The very bottom of the barrel. Welcome along.
Back in March last year, I wrote an article about the bombardment of bad news. On my previous overnight talkRADIO show, we’d covered the Coronavirus outbreak more than most, charting it’s progress across Asia and Europe. As the inevitability of the lockdown rumbled towards us, I needed to take a break. That bombardment of bad news never really relented. Breaking news alerts and daily death figures have become a regular beat in the rhythm of daily life.
For many of us, we’re fortunate enough to be experiencing events through a screen. For others, it’s a reality of life. Especially those on the frontline of a creaking NHS, dealing with that weight of responsibility, the hazardous conditions and the lingering presence of death. That’s before we account for shop workers, teachers, bus drivers, taxi drivers, cleaners and radio presenters. OK, maybe not that last one.
With that, a storm is brewing. We are likely to face a mental health crisis the likes of which we have never seen before. It isn’t just key workers and NHS staff. The truth is, none of us are likely to step out of 18 months of uncertainty, intense change and relentless bad news unscathed. I don’t say this for dramatic effect – I say it as a warning. We must act now to recognise it, as individuals and as a society, and take steps to ready ourselves.
If we start from the irrefutable fact that we are a bit crap at mental health provision in this country, how do we begin to deal with post-traumatic stress on the scale we’re likely to see?
This weekend, we’ll ask that question and begin that conversation. What can we do to steady ourselves and prepare, as individuals, but more importantly as a society?
It’s a big question and there won’t be an easy answer. It may be that we don’t reach much of a conclusion at all. But it’s a start.
Across the pond, a storm of a different kind is brewing. Days before Joe Biden’s inauguration as President of the United States, the House of Representatives have moved to impeach Donald Trump. Again. There won’t be enough time for the upper house, the Senate, to conduct a trial before he leaves office, but the constitution is clear: it can go ahead anyway.
There is a train of thought that any action taken against Trump will only fan the flames of division in a country that is in desperate need of a healing ointment. Sure, maybe. But it isn’t it equally true, that allowing wrongdoing to go unpunished breads more of the same?
A key fuel in the rise of Trump and Trumpism has been the room afforded to those who do bad things to get away without consequences. When an candidate can boast of sexually assaulting women and still win an election, the flood gates open. Not only for that person, but for those who seek to replicate them. It’s a short leap to a total breakdown of decency, standards and, in this case, law. It leads to a man from Arkansas thinking he can walk into the Capitol Building and plonk himself in the speakers office… and get away with it.
Richard Barnett hasn’t. He’s been arrested. And surely his encourager should face the consequences of his actions too? No matter how futile it seems, it might just fire a warning shot to any future President seeking to start an insurrection themselves.
Edward Hardy from The Hardy Report will give us his take on that this weekend – and some key pointers on what to look out for in Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Back home, it’s been another week of grappling with the boundaries of the lockdown restrictions, as the government pleads with a weary nation to take it seriously. Most do, of course, and the flurry of stories about breaches or walks with coffee or house parties are in a minority.
Yet, it remains the case that some people just don’t get it. They remain blind to the severity and, seemingly, blinkered by selfishness.
One explanation could be a psychological tendency known as… optimism bias. Simply, the assumption that certain things just won’t happen to you – you won’t get COVID-19 and it just doesn’t affect you. It could explain a huge amount about our response to the pandemic – from Prime Minister, cheerily assuring us that we could carry on shaking hands, to that maskless guy breathing down your neck in the supermarket queue.
It could explain our response to lots of things – from climate change to the reason we elect politicians who boast about groping women. Because we just can’t process the negative consequences.
But we also know that optimism is a useful tool – it helps us put one foot in front of the other when times are tough and it in itself can breed positive results. So, how do we strike a balance – and spot when we’re doing it wrong? We’ll dig into the phenomena with a psychologist.
There is no doubt that the pandemic has tested us in lots of ways – including, it seems, our relationship with celebrity. The first lockdown was laced with tone deaf posts and videos from celebrities like Madonna and Sam Smith. This time, the backlash falls against Instagram influencers jetting off to Dubai and rubbing it in our faces. With an expensive watch on their wrist. #spon #ad
We’ll ask The Sun’s Online Editor if the pandemic has exposed some flaws in our relationship with celebrity.
See you in the morning.
Weekend Early Breakfast – with Darryl Morris. Saturday and Sunday from 5am on talkRADIO.January 19, 2021 | No Comments