Archive for July, 2012

20th Jul 2012

Text-obsessed!

Today I’m in the Yorkshire Evening Post, cultivating pearls of wisdom about the virtues – and vices – of texting, textspeak, text obsession, etc. In the paper version I appear on page 19 – but the feature is available for free online. Basically I’m sitting on the fence – yes, texting (like telegramming in the 19thC) is another harmless chapter in the evolutionary story of human communication. But no, texting should not – nor will it – replace more formal English usage as the default means by which we interact with one another.

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18th Jul 2012

Fathers, Sons, Celeb Ambitions PART 2

 
This is my esteemed colleague Lynne Hibberd’s response to the Father’s Day survey mentioned in my last post…
 
Why are fathers choosing fame and fortune for their children over more traditional jobs such as doctors and lawyers?It’s hard to get away from the presence of celebrities, much less their perceived importance. Celebrities play an increasing role in how and what we consume (think Jamie Oliver or Mary Portas), how often we consume it (as celebrities Tweet their feelings and beliefs instantly); while people like Carol Vorderman and Kirstie Alsopp also play a role in shaping governmental and social policies. Would thousands of people have turned out to celebrate the Jubilee were it not for the presence of celebrities such as Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue? Faced with this kind of visibility, power and wealth, it can be tempting to think that celebrity status offers instant rewards, especially in a time of economic recession. Doctors, lawyers, teachers – these are great, fulfilling and worthy careers which take a lot of graft, require commitment, dedication, passion and long-term, lifelong study. Parents may find it difficult to find money for university fees in the first instance, and as governmental cutbacks look sure to diminish the public sector roles that many parents occupy, these jobs no longer offer the stability and assurance they once did. 17 year old Ashleigh Butler won half a million pounds for appearing on Britain’s Got Talent with her dancing dog Pudsey, and even with low interest rates, that’s a decent investment.

It’s great that fathers are keen to tune in to their children’s aspirations, and reality shows can undoubtedly offer that ‘Cinderella’ moment to showcase talent. This can turn on its head though; instant global visibility is a lot to expect for any young person. I’m intrigued by the findings that fathers would be happy for their sons to marry someone famous as it’s still relatively rare for men to take a backseat role while a female partner basks in the limelight. It’s true that for many the ‘gift of the gab’ does win out over academic excellence. Alan Sugar, Richard Branson, Michelle Mone all had the drive and passion to see their business dreams become a reality without going to university. But we can’t all be entrepreneurs and there’s both room and need for creative thinkers across the board: scientists, architects, engineers, mechanics. As for reality TV, my dogs mostly smell like wet dog. I love them but they’re not doing my pension pot any favours.

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