Anti-social media – did Auntie know best?

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BBC HQ: Photo Credit: Shutterstock

TO any Briton older than 30 the BBC looms large.

Live in Australia, South America or anywhere in Europe and the World Service was a key link to home.

Episodes of ‘Just a Minute’ heard on shortwave reminded me of rain and cream teas when the actual view was Sydney Harbour and the passing Manly ferries.

The English tones, the clearly enunciated English reassuring.

Living in England these last decades I will admit that the BBC has infuriated, enthralled and entertained as well as informed me.

Though I say now that the BBC is biased – who is not – that the BBC has changed – who has not – the nugget of news this past week gave me pause to think again of how rapid change is challenging us all.

Not just Auntie BBC.

For the first time across all of the channels that the BBC publish; most of a key demographic the young aged 18-25, spent more time engaging with mediums other than the BBC.

The radio channels are challenged by music streaming services, the TV channels by on-demand services such as Netflix.

The budget that Netflix deploys for the production of new content, US$7billion in2018, is many times that of the BBC’s, without the cost of gathering and reporting the news.

The BBC news budget alone is an estimated €1.6 billion each year.

As the audience follows his own individual favourites the BBC’s ability to mark a national moment, a gathering around the fireside, is a habit of the past.

Instead, Britain has Twitter storms – furious tirades and rants. Usually, these Twitter storms pass in days and are forgotten.

If, however, you are a young person living in Britain your life may depend on what is being seen and said on social media.

London’s Metropolitan Police have partially blamed social media for turbocharging reactions during the current spate of violent knife attacks.

Gangs are posting to social media and challenging other gangs, exchanging insults and provocations.

Where traditional media among them the BBC offered entertainment and hard news curated and filtered we now have a torrent of abuse apparently provoking violent reprisals that in turn have won London the dubious distinction of a higher murder rate than New York.

The older generations may use the same social media platforms but the nature of the platforms means that we will probably not experience the same content as our younger fellow Londoners.

Where once the Christmas Specials tied us together, it seems that social media has blown us apart.

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