When there’s nothing to fret about, we fret about nothing. Surveillance, am I bothered?
We live in easy times at least in comparison with earlier generations and if we’re lucky enough to live in the prosperous third of the world. Yet, if you believe some reports, people have never before been so worried.
There’s a good evolutionary case to explain why, as a species, we’re slightly pessimistic and cautious. Our ancestors would have had a better chance of survival with these characteristics than their more gung-ho cousins who would have gone rushing out only to be eaten by lions or suchlike. Of course the real pessimists would never have left the cave and would have starved before getting much chance to pass on their genes.
Now, thanks to the wonders of a liberal market economy, entrepreneurial writers can make a fairly comfortable living out of being gloomy. Professional pessimists such as Henry Porter, to name but a few, are well rewarded for filling comment columns and our airwaves with dismal stories.
He was at it again in the Observer yesterday and today his agent got him onto Radio Four’s Start the Week programme to plug his programme on More 4 (not Channel 4 as Andrew Marr seemed to think) this evening.
What a lot of fuss about not very much! Do we care if the ‘authorities’ know where we are? Is it a worry that someone could read an electronic passport with a scanner? Does it matter that Tesco knows my choice in wine, soap powder or ham? Not really, actually not at all...