Alain de Botton on the Media – Free EBook

everyone and thank you so much for joining in so enthusiastically it used to be the case that when we woke up in the morning we would look outside and we would see the Jew and we would listen to birds but now of course we don’t do any of that what do we do we turn to our smartphones and we look at the headlines and when it’s late at night and we’re ready to go back into sleep we do exactly the same thing the news book ends our lives and if you look at the traffic on the BBC News website some 15 million people will check that site over four times a day during the day now what are we looking for what is the search what kind of information are we looking for what do we think it’s going to change it’s so unclear the news is something that seeps up on us as we’re growing up and very rarely does anyone take us to one side and try to explain why it’s there how its put together people will have a shot at introducing us to paintings people will have a shot at telling us about theater and literature but no one really ever stops to systematically warn us about what might happen when we come across this sort of material it’s deeply puzzling it’s full of mystery and power we’re not quite the same people after we’ve looked at this stuff people think that they can relax on a Sunday by reading the newspaper it’s the striking idea of what might happen this you know where nowadays I’m surrounded by news the philosopher Hegel said that a society becomes modern when it swaps this for this essentially when it stops going to church on a Sunday and starts reading the newspaper instead we are firmly in that age and yet though we know about religion and what it might do to us and we’re prepared to argue quite facility for it or against it when it comes to news we’re curiously cowed and timid and passive consumers of this information in the eighth century when people were looking forward to an age of more freely available information this was the great rallying cry of social reformers in the 18th century when reformers looked forward to a future with more information they imagined that more information would be an unambiguous good that by knowing more we would care more we would want to do more good and the light of Reason would shine in previously dark places it hasn’t quite happened that way there’s a curious way in which even though we have unbelievable amounts of information the utility of that information both for the individual and for the running of the state is at best questionable you know there are two ways maybe to keep a population passive resigned despairing accepting of whatever status quo is given to them the first way to keep the population down I think is the way that’s been tried in North Korea stop all news that’s one way but there’s another more insidious clever away flood the people with news give them so much news they can’t remember what was going on yesterday let alone in this morning I mean who can remember here what was happening in the news yes last week this time last week who knows I mean it’s a prehistory no one can remember Oh prizes for anyone who can afterwards but basically we’re deeply puzzled by the torrent of information and unable to quite make sense of this I’m very interested in the therapeutic I look for the therapeutic qualities that might be available within all sorts of art forms of jars I’ve looked at philosophy I’ve looked at literature I’ve looked at the world of fine art and now I’ve turned my attention to news and the thing that I’m arguing for is a more therapeutic kind of news in other words a news that might be more geared towards our inner and also societal needs how could and use how could the news get better in the sense of being more focused on the genuine requirements of its audiences rather than the passing titillation of its audiences or the the fear and panic side of the of the audience how could news become genuinely useful rather than merely as it is now gripping compelling but not necessarily nutritious in many ways we certainly know news is important how can we get it better let me begin by taking you on a tour through some of the issues that I think we’re facing as the consumers of news in every case trying to get things to go a little better now look one of the great puzzles of the modern age is that there are many serious issues that surround us this is one of the most serious global warming climate change the problem is you will find that if you are running a news organization and you put this on your front page on your home page your viewership will drop catastrophic ly however you will also find that if you put this on the front page your viewership will increase exponentially there used to be a distinction between important news that would go at the front and then unimportant but perhaps fun news that would go at the back that hierarchy the architecture of news has broken down and this is a serious problem for anyone trying to get serious ideas across to the audience the important and the popular should be one it’s very important that important things are popular right too often there’s an idea that if you’re dealing with important stuff doesn’t really matter how many what kind of an audience you get because it’s so important but the problem is in a democracy politicians need the population to have their attention focused on the really important issues and to care about them through time this is breaking down and so the popularity of Taylor Swift’s legs over the arctic melt is not just a passing journalistic problem it’s a problem for our democracies it’s problem for our societies a very serious problem is going on now what do we do about this I’m an optimistic sort of person and part of the reason I’m optimistic is because I look at the example of the Catholic Church in the Renaissance the Catholic Church were very interested in getting people to focus on the truths of the Gospels I don’t necessarily believe in the truths of the Gospels but that’s what they wanted to do and let’s look at what they did they put up advertisements everywhere or also known as altar pieces and these advertisements were designed to make the important popular now the Catholic Church knew that if you’ve got some important things to say don’t rely on this fellow don’t rely on guys with beards and big books because no one thinks about them what you need to do is to go and search for the Taylor Swift of the day and therefore you go here and you go here and Bellini was on the case and they did it very very well we need to take a leaf from there but popularization which is what this is about this is a giant work of popularization is a very important skill and one that serious journalists and serious media people today neglect at their peril it’s an absolutely fundamental part of communication in a democracy that is very distracted so this is something we’re going to have to get better at if we’re to keep the important topics at the front of our minds but let’s think of Bellini and let’s try and tie those legs to the arctic melt you know what I’m saying now I mentioned that there’s a little bit too much news the good news is there isn’t so much news it’s just that news organisations constantly tell us that there is a plethora of information they keep presenting things which are actually not new at all as though they’re brand new but actually what we need to do as consumers of the news is to become more alive to the fact there are archetypes out there there are stories that keep coming round and round and round and they look different and they can be polished up to look completely new and the news loves to do that because it gets more money from doing that but what we need to do is consumers is to go the other way and try and reduce the number of stories so get a handle on the archetypes in the book I’ve written with this talk I identify 32 main archetypal stories that just keep coming round and round and round there’s very little that is ever new its archetypal but the news dissuades us from thinking that way because it wants to make things completely fresh because that’s how it’s going to make the money so we need to get sharper at doing that and I want to help you to do that look there’s one story that keeps coming around it looks very different this is one part of the story another part of the story and this is another part of the story it’s the same story but it looks like many stories it’s not and basically what that story is about is someone extraordinary the king or the son of God or a singer with it with a big audience doing something quite ordinary putting wrestling with a car seat or buying lettuce at Whole Foods or giving birth in a stable so it’s the same story it just it just keeps coming round we need to train ourselves and give ourselves the tools to spot the archetypes there’s a lot less news than we think manoeuvre number one okay other maneuvers there’s something else that’s really problematic about the news nowadays which is that we can hear things like today in the Democratic Republic of Congo 300 people died and afterwards we can go make a cup of tea and not give it another thought or we go straight to sleep you’re a disaster news seems to be a perfect thing you can you can listen to the news through other people and then go to be asleep within 5 minutes it’s an extraordinary unbelievable ability are we crazy are we the nastiest people species that could ever have been invented how come we don’t care how come despite all the fiber optic cables and satellites and foreign journalists rigging their lives in places how come what gets called World News which is primarily disaster based gets one from the lowest audience figures of any kind of news imaginable it’s to do with empathy right the news is so focused on getting us information hard data through any people have died that it forgets a very important thing trying to make us care about it and the very important thing about caring you cannot care about 300 people dying if you never knew they existed if their existence was entirely unsuspected and it entails highly uninteresting and abstract their deaths will seem equally uninteresting and abstract the news doesn’t recognize this that doesn’t recognize this phenomenon and therefore it parachutes us into areas of disaster at the last moment we need to know about the steady state of a place before its catastrophes can come in any way to matter to us some people say well we’re racists and that’s obviously why we don’t care about a democratic problem Congo these people got different skin color so therefore you know I we don’t get that’s nonsense of course we could care you know we’ll sit in the performance of King Lear and we’ve a guy who never even existed hundreds and hundreds of years ago so we have immensely rich powers of empathy but they need to be stirred into action and the way they’re stirred into action is by a discipline which were want of a better word we could call art art is the name of the discipline designed to get big and important ideas more powerfully more imaginatively into our heads in the realm of news the art form that is predominant is photojournalism the problem with with photojournalism is there’s ever less of it that news organizations will pay for reliably if you draw any many depressed people out there philosophers top top of the league but right below them are photo journalists no one loves them a bit cause that they do their work in people at Magnum you know in despair the great material is not recognized it’s very very important to have good pictures right that helps a story to get across what is a good picture I’m not talking about color balance or you know cropping etc that’s not really when it comes down to a good picture is a bearer of new information it doesn’t really corroborate something that you already knew it advances the state of knowledge take child marriage we’ve all heard about child marriage and those things you know we might have read about it this is a photo by this is incidentally Democratic Republic of Congo a photo that’s probably not going to help us to cap this is something that might help us to care it’s definitely Sinclair Pulitzer prize-winning photographer did a wonderful photo essay on child marriage in Yemen one learns all sorts of things from you know this picture first of all you realize that it’s not little girls getting married it’s little old ladies these children have had something so traumatic happen to them that they have aged overnight seemingly and they have a kind of poignant pathetic sadness in their eyes and meanwhile the men are not you know the powerful brutes one imagines they’re like lost children themselves so it’s a lot more complicated there’s a lot of information one can stare at this picture for a long time and develop some of the deeper feelings that a bad picture whatever the cropping and color balance is all about is going to deny us so we need good quality images and more than that we need good quality art to get us to care about data we can’t simply care about data however it’s landed given to us on it on on our plates we need it to be properly cooked presented seduced we need to be seduced into caring this happens not just in areas of the developing world you know this is President Obama this is a dead picture we don’t we don’t let anything about them at the man with that we’ve seen this a hundred times we don’t pay any attention this picture is alive because it’s telling us something new now we know that Obama is a fake and can fake things to get elected did we know that Obama can sometimes fake things in order to please the child of a White House staffer who is playing spider-man not necessarily this is new information important information we are learning this is photojournalism in action we need more of it point number two moving on many of us here are very nice if everybody says really nice okay and generally we trust our fellow citizens to be nice you got two stranger you know people at friendly right until you go on a news website and you go what’s called below the line and you realize a really dark truth everybody is insane they are completely crazy they’re vicious and dark and cruel and unforgiving and just angry all the time about everything what is going on you know this is these are some this is a an average I proposal it’s an average article about George Osborne in the Guardian I mean it’s unbelievable someone wants to sit on him and and punch him supposed to take off his socks and put him in his mouth I mean it just say what is going on now look I think we need to be prepared for this I think it’s a little bit like journals you know how a journal is in certain moods you know things are going not going very well you know you’ve got your bedroom and you put out your journal and you pour out your woes and you’ve got I’m going to kill myself I hate everybody no one understands me it’s all awful you have good cry and the tears mingle with the ink and then you shut the journal and just be multiplied rascal you put the journal away and and then you rejoin a group life and you know hopefully no one will ever read this because if they did they would have a very distorted picture it’s one moment it’s a snapshot but let’s not dwell on it but if we get arrested with that image we may never be able to be seen in the same light again and therefore it’s very important that we don’t read people’s journals and it’s equally important that we must never read below the line because it’s not really true we need to be able to love each other and trust one another and go out into the world and do business and and and and communicate with one another we can’t do that if we take the message of a comments seriously it’s a very there’s a very particular pathology going on we need to be aware of it and resist it a lot of it is driven by hope the news gives us hope that the world can be better than it is and that it isn’t and it produces enormous amounts of rage it doesn’t help us the news doesn’t help us with our homes it also doesn’t of course help us with our fear the news is always trying to scare us about all sorts of things so we need help with our fear and our hope now this is another kind of story that is very very popular this is one of the most popular stories that ran in the Daily Mail two years ago a huge number of hits on this story this is a man a father and this is his very sweet son shortly after this picture was taken the father took the son and his sister into a lay-by and killed them and then killed himself and they ended up in this sob they were found by somebody walking their dog dead and this was an incredibly popular story what on earth is going on are we crazy a we as a species demented that we love to read about soft which is obviously so sad and really should be the realm of private grief what’s going on let’s call an Aristotle for a little bit of help here Aristotle recognized that there is an appetite a human appetite for very very dark stories involving people who make some error our prey to some passing passion fury darkness and do something utterly catastrophic and ruin themselves and those around them and the name that Aristotle gave to this phenomenon was of course tragedy and very importantly Aristotle believed that witnessing tragedy was not merely a gory spectacle was not merely some kind of tittle-tattle or rubbernecking it belonged to part of a civilizing process the greatest Horrors have a role to play in building up civilization and that’s why the ancient Greeks believed in taking the whole population regularly and showing them this sort of stuff hidup is the king which beats anything in a Daily Mail in terms of and I was already know how would you headline this kind of story sex with mum was blinding so then well but in other words Aristotle believed that the the disasters and misfortunes of others are important to us why are they important they teach us fear and pity pity for the person who has ended up in a disastrous catastrophic situation and the lesson is we are all of us however much it seems like everything’s fine with us and with completely in command and rational all of us are quite near the edge of disaster all the time therefore we need to be scared for ourselves and pitiful a full of pity for the person who has been pushed over the edge or the or was pushed themselves over the edge the news is so scared about compassion for those who have done very bad things it’s scared that we’ll want to open the prison doors that it doesn’t take us to that Aristotelian tragic cathartic emotion so it brings us the raw material doesn’t take us to the edge it merely leaves us perturbed gripped knowing that there’s something we’re searching for and yet unable to offer us generally redemption it’s because this is considered as low news and serious people in serious journalism think that this sort of stuff is ridiculous it’s clearly very important to us psychologically and I believe we need to find a way to use this material and Sophocles and Aristotle are one beginning of an answer there’s something else that we absolutely adore doing when we look at the news is taking care of some car crashes love a good car crash particularly there lots and lots people dead maybe in some fog we also love we also love when aeroplanes crash beautiful things airbus both and then they crash fantasy of the scale popular with news websites what is going on are we again sick no we’re not we’re searching for the meaning of life the thought of death a higher a heightened awareness of death is one of the tools which helps to bring the meaning of life into focus we used to know this as a civilization in the Middle Ages when you were decorating your bedchamber or your office a standard piece of decoration was a memento mori a skull either literal physical skull or a painting of a skull and this was designed to focus your mind on the omnipresence of death not in order to sink you into despair but in order to remind you of what matters I think we’re vainly searching for an element of that when we come up against the sudden awareness of the loss of others in tragic accidents but again the news is not helping us it’s not tying up the loose ends and that’s why it’s we’re both compelled because there is something important and yet unresolved and slightly with a low-level anxiety because there’s been no catharsis okay the other thing that the news constantly does to us is make us scared of everything of bird flu and swine flu and cockroaches and strange UFOs and Martians and any that you name it with constantly being terrified and you know it’s very surprising but we live with so much terror news and use terror that it sometimes amazing when people you know people’s car breaks down on a country lane and you know it’s time to go and talk to a stranger very difficult moment when you’re reading the news because you know that everyone is going to be ax murderer a pervert or a widow or a pedophile so what do you do well you have to go and talk and then nine times out of ten in fact nine point nine nine nine nine nine times out of ten it’s absolutely fine indeed they’re really nice because most people are really really nice we wouldn’t have murders on the front page if people murdered all the time it’s deeply anomalous we forget this very basic point the news that you know the news headlines is a such a distorted picture of our society we’re constantly losing a sense of how things really are and we we start we constantly take the anomalous to be the normal instead of seeing that of course it’s only on the front page because it is so deeply unusual the first lesson of looking at all news sources remember that it is not the norm that’s why it’s there so the new swings us into terrible fears and then occasionally it swings us into hope particular regarding politicians maybe this politician can fix it the last one was useless but this one can fix it and then also health news health news is a repository of a kind of utopian ideal that perhaps we can crack death so lots of thoughts about you know what will cure Alzheimer’s may be extra walnuts at night or some special long socks that you’re worn we’re on long flights I mean what’s going to cure kidney disease maybe it’s you know some flowers or whatever it is it’s suggestions of the kinds of things that may help us what the news doesn’t do is to accept the baseline truth which is we’re all going to die and rather than accepting this sober fact with dignity like these guys used to do it gives us a kind of hope that perhaps we can crack it and it gives us a feeling that you know guys in white coats are currently just now and you know MIT or in Stanford trying to solve the thing and if we just get the new kind of fruit juice we’ll be solved etc it doesn’t do as the greatest favor which is to induct us gently and with dignity into the base facts of our lives it swings us from extremes of hope to despair and leaves us anxious now the other thing that we need to really get a grip on is this phenomenon celebrity now serious people are appalled by the fact that we’re all gripped by celebrity and they point out the celebrities are absolutely vulgar and gross and disgusting and they’ve shunt the whole thing now I think it’s very important for a society to have celebrities we can’t do without celebrities we need role models the idea of a role model is fundamental all good societies have had role models you can’t do without them the problem is that’s not abandoned the making of role models to the lowest common denominator but at the moment the serious news doesn’t care about anointing celebrity so it abandons this task to the lowest common common denominator and that’s where we get this very nice young lady there are sometimes glimpses of how how things might be recently Natalie Portman took her two-year-old child to the park now going to the park with a small child is very boring as you all know however is also really really important it’s really important because their development your development etc it’s very important it’s very useful when a big star who could be doing all sorts of things decides that actually she’s going to take us onto the park suddenly it shines the light of glamour and we need glamour to encourage us to do things that you know not a pleasant to do we need a little bit of help and there is st. Mattala helping us set Natalie the saint of going for a walk in the park now we used to be surrounded by Saints Society used to be surrounded by Saints who we would say for this and a saint for that and they would not just in the right direction a well-functioning society I think is one that has useful role models this model has really broken down partly because elites refused to accept the seriousness of the job of role-modeling look there’s something else about the news and it happens on the weekend mostly on the weekend there’s this sort of idea that of reading the news the newspapers per tick in particular is a normal thing to do on the weekend so you know it’s a sunny Sunday morning the birds are chirping and you’ll go and read the Sunday newspaper there’s something very dangerous that is likely to happen when you do so there’s sometimes you know warnings of strobe lighting when they’re showing you images in a warning strobe lighting what they should really be over the Sunday papers is warning NV NV the Sunday newspapers are the moment of most concentrated a dose of envy that we’re likely to receive from the news although throughout the week it will be doing a jolly good job of dosing us up the reason is that we live in very mobile societies where the possibility of attaining amazing things is unfortunately a little bit too close to be put completely out of mind we know that it’s possible for example this is a man called Ellen Musk he’s 46 years old two years older than me used to be great when you’re a bit younger you can always go well it’s almost 46 ok well that’s me I’ve got another 12 years so I could you know this guy found at eBay and PayPal and he’s putting men on Mars and he’s developed an electric car company and and this is his wife and he’s got five children he’s just and his was a twelve billion dollars and we’re supposed to be happy about this we’re supposed really pleased we’re suppose we’re supposed to be able to read this sort of stuff and then go darling shall we have lunch and just not suffer any kind of damaging effect it’s nonsense this is deeply worrying now part of our neo Christie and Heritage’s were embarrassed about Envy we shouldn’t be embarrassed about Envy we should put it to use Envy is very useful inside every envious attack there is a clue however foggy it might be about something that we should be trying to achieve or attain but what we need to do is to sit down and analyze quite soberly and with sensitivity what is making us anyways we should let me keep a diary of anybody write down the names of everyone who makes you envious because you’ll start to see if you study those names you’ll start to see patterns emerging and those patterns are a code about where you should be heading in your life for example find look at this man more closely so I’ve got it you know if I try and move on from a general envious attack towards a more sincere focus okay what does this man really teach me about what I want I don’t actually want to start an electric car company I’ve got no interest in putting men on Mars etc my wife’s very nice we don’t don’t need this lady so what is it what is it really that’s that’s kind of getting me about this man I think what I’m envious of is his courage his determination is ability to persuade a lot of people of some unlikely sounding things and carry them with him to all of these things are really important the news and particularly in that staple of Sunday newspaper the interview is hopeless about this it’s circled people’s achievements without really trying to pin down what might be important it doesn’t help us with our envy because it isn’t alive to it so again you’re starting to get a sense of the themes that I’m taking the news is often presenting us with important and interesting material and then leaving us to work out what we might do with it that’s why my book is called a user’s manual how can we make use of this stuff some of which is very important how can we make it go better in our own lives now look there’s something else about the news and that is the idea that the more serious the news outlet you go to the less the news that they should be providing you with should be biased in other words the worst kind of uses read biased news and the best kind of news is unbiased news so the words got news is you know Fox News or the Daily Mail or something through biased news and at that terrible but you go up up the scale and of course you know in this country right on top of it the pile is the BBC and and this must be very good because they just present you with the information the facts and they’re not trying to influence your get inside your mind or tell you what to think or anything like that they’re very balanced reporting so they’ll do a feature on in a genital mutilation so that someone is for genital mutilation and someone is against genital mutilation someone is for genocide and someone’s against genocide I’m not just your favorite event it’s nonsense of course you need bias the thing is you need the right sort of bias you don’t need crazy buyers but what we desperately need is some guidance what are we to make the flurry of facts that comes at us every day we need guidance but the news is prey odd moments to a kind of sense of restraint that if it were to tell us what to think we might not be able to say no we’d be sort of convinced by the BBC the BBC told me the other day that the only moment when they abandon impartiality after much heartache and much thinking is they’ve decided to admit that they thought that apartheid was a bad thing ever since then they have not come down on any issue with any degree of bias they should get a lot more biased we need bys particular when it comes something like economics you know economic news is you know sense the most important views and yet the way that the economics is reported in series outlets is so often devoid of the kind of muscle that will enable us to make sense of the world that we live in and give us a sense of the options the real options that we’re facing so there’ll be you know very small you know issues around you know interest rates or currency movements or of course these are have their place in are important but the wider picture which is who’s getting what and why are we doing this where what are the options for change so unbelievable how even at the height of the financial crisis this kind of data was kept out of the public mind people at this point might say oh you a Marxist and you were going to know there’s a real difference between you know there’s a real spectrum between a Marxist on the one hand and people who support the status quo absolutely on the other there’s a lot of good ideas out there about how we might make our world slightly better slightly nicer and yet you wouldn’t necessarily know it from following the economic news agenda and this leads to on the one hand in a bottled up rage and low-level depression and then occasionally explosions of rage but very inarticulate ones this is the Occupy movement people who care very deeply know that things are wrong but have been watching the wrong kind of news because they have no good ideas about what to change so a desperate naivety and sentimentality allied with real energy to change it’s a recipe for disaster so after a while these guys get hosed down by the police and it moved on and the world doesn’t change the news is partly responsible for creating a world that marries up this kind of genuine passion with ignorance and dfangs the ability for change very bad part of the problem is that the news is obsessed by bad guys and it hates systemic problems many of the problems facing our civilization are not the work of anyone that you could tightly put in handcuffs and take away right it’s the work of people who are not necessarily evil but misguided not necessarily you know looking to corrupt and control but they’ve you know lacking imagination take the housing crisis that’s afflicting the Southeast of England it’s not the work of one person that you could tightly put in prison and yet it’s one of the most the biggest problems it’s a messy story that journalists don’t quite like because if you open up the hearts of most journalists on their heart is written Watergate they looking for the Watergate paradigm paradigm everywhere one person or few people a cabal in a room somewhere doing very bad things journalist comes along gets a little bit of information the world changes right most problems are much subtler much more elusive than that and yet the news doesn’t fill it can’t see them through the filter look the other thing that the news doesn’t tell us and it’s a very basic point is that the most important things that have happened in the history of humanity have not necessarily happened in the previous half-hour we are a species with a long history and there’s a lot of stuff that we have forgotten and that therefore if it came to the fore right now would be news you know if the contents of Plato’s Republic became properly known it would be headline news you know democracy not always good says big thinker you’re amazing you know that could be really big thinker or you know if the truth of the Buddha were told more explicitly this will be you know headline news so the news is supposed to be the most important thing in our society right we that’s why we accorded this almost religious reverence that’s why there’s this sonorous music before a bulletin that’s why we listen like children at school assembly for the important stuff we’ve got to make sure that it really is the important stuff which may mean sometimes it may absolutely mean what happened in the last half hour and sometimes we may need to stretch our optics 3,000 years so we need news organizations that are willing to accept this and then sometimes we as the consumers of news need to realize that there are moments where we’ve had enough news and we need to go somewhere where we’re left alone with as it were our own agenda the news is the most wonderful tool of distraction ever invented and the great thing about is it it sounds so serious you know what are you doing darling I’m just looking News Arness in the news so important right if you said you know what you doing I’m just staring out the window and sort of thinking about a moment in my childhood get up doing the washing-up that’s not serious right so we need to accept that being with ourselves taking the news from ourselves is a very important part of what it means to be a good citizen and a good press aeroplanes are some of the few places left nowadays until they put Wi-Fi everywhere be a sad day but for the moment we can still find room moments for reflection on a long flight and the thing about you know room for reflections we start to notice all sorts of things we’re not alone on the planet there are other things on the planet and they’ve got really different agenda and this guy doesn’t care about all sorts of things that you think are really important he doesn’t know that it’s the Sochi Olympics he doesn’t know about you know Nick Clegg and David Cameron and Scotia nationalism and it’s just important to remind us of the existence of these very small creatures talking of small creatures there are too small creatures in this room that I elected with special thanks to they’re my children who they’re not the size of this bird by any means they’re seven and nine they’re deer creatures and they daily remind me that there are priorities which have nothing to do with the news agenda and I’m very grateful for them for coming here for listening today I know that it’s a bit of a ball for them but they are a reminder they’re a reminder of a very important balancing act psychological balancing act which we’re finding it ever harder to do look by training I’m a philosopher and philosophers think that they know it all and that they’ve got very important truths in hand the problem is no one’s really listening the average worker philosophy a friend of mine told me the other day the I could forever average academic work of philosophy is read by 300 people right that’s 300 people and yet this is where to be really important truth the Daily Mail website has 40 million hits a day 40 so you know you’ve got 340 million that is the world that we’re dealing with what this one’s supposed to do so one the obvious option is to despair get very very sad but I and the school of life we don’t believe in despair with very very optimistic people so the other day the school of life and I we came up with a new project it’s funded by the school and what we’ve done is to rewrite the mail online and every day we look at all the stories the mail looks at you know the murders the suicides the incest the celebrity stories etc and we caption them differently though we caption them with a view to philosophical justice compassion kindness gentleness etc so these are the what I introduce you to the philosophers male you could look at at website philosophers and you look at we’ve had a great start please come and visit us it’s a sort of project that we loved doing at the school of life so would you end it there thank you very much

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