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End of civilisation

End of civilisation as we know it

armageddonI love the German language. Some might give it a hard time – the medieval emperor Frederick said it was only of use for talking to horses – but, for me it nails down ideas and feelings like no other. Take, for example, my newest discovery – weltverbesserungswahn – otherwise known as ‘the sneaking feeling that the world ought to be better than it actually is’. But my favourite still has to be schadenfreude – that uncomfortable, guilty pleasure we get when learning of the misfortunes of others. And let’s face it, there’s plenty of it about at the moment thanks to mighty fallers like Chris Huhne and his ex-wife Vicky Pryce or the former cardinal, Keith O’Brien. The undeniable fact is that we all, either openly or secretly, like to see a bit of doom and gloom falling on the heads of people apart from ourselves and our nearest and dearest – it’s hard-wired into our genes. The problem for practitioners of the dark arts of PR, like me, is that this pre-occupation with the negative often overtakes the media too. Listen to the Today programme on Radio 4 any morning and you’ll be treated to a steady stream of Cassandras predicting the end of civilisation as we know it (the Chief medical Officer was on this morning asking for the government to classify anti-biotic resistance alongside terrorism). Which is fine, I suppose, in small doses, but when we are treated to an endless diet of negativity we are unlikely to do all the positive stuff we need to get out of the ongoing economic marsh. So laugh up your sleeve at the great and good hitting the banana skin if you like (I certainly will) but don’t let it stop you doing your bit to save the economy. Go and buy something for goodness sake.

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