Start Your Own Shitstorm!
I did a bad thing.
I upset a Milennial.
He’s some guy with a narrow jacket and a children’s TV show haircut who was swanking off online about his latest article in a pointless freesheet known mainly for publishing recycled press releases about trainers and beard gel. After I made a joke about the rag he replied with an insult, so to prove my point I took a screenshot of the freesheet’s trivia-filled front page. Rather than engage with me about the content he called me an old c**t. I can see now that it was me who made the mistake here; on balance I shouldn’t have called him out.
For this reason.
There’s a delusional space between the way people describe their jobs and what they actually do. He’s selling himself as a crusading journalist, but I see him as a shill for pharma and sportswear companies, turning out junk paper for people to leave on railway platforms. It’s a paper no-one wants except the people who make a profit from it. He has every right to delude himself about the way he earns his money, but I’m not sure it’s advisable to share that fantasy with others. However, it was wrong of me to point out the gap between his dreams and reality. What threw me was the vertiginous descent into name-calling that followed. Scratch a Millennial and you may find the oldest prejudices lying just below the surface.
There’s an interesting novella called ‘Shitstorm‘ by Argentinian-born Fernando Sdrigotti about the American dentist Walter Palmer, who murdered a lion with a bow and arrow and caused an international protest. Sdrigotti has changed the names to protect himself, but uses the event to create a powerful piece of polemic about the media reportage and millennial outrage that paradoxically drives centrist protest. It’s first out of the stable from Open Pen Novelettes, and is right on the pulse, capturing the looking-glass topsy-turveydom of the times. The Palmer drama is our spat writ large.
These short-tempered flare-ups take many forms and can be seen in Paris right now as the Gilets Jaunes riot, no longer about fuel tax but over everything. It’s an inchoate way of expressing dissatisfaction with Macron’s policies that merely makes everything slightly worse. In March we’ll doubtless see similar scenes on the streets of London if Brexit goes ahead. Next time around, though, it may not consist of a series of micro-tantrums, but erupt into something no government has seen since the poll tax riots.
And as someone who has lived through far too many London protests, I know it won’t change a damned thing if nothing has been constructed to replace a system that’s failing.