Friends, Romans, Countrymen – don’t consume stories, listen to them

Religious Consumption
Religious Consumption

Sunday morning I listened to Broadcasting House on BBC Radio 4 and heard how technology is affecting radio and TV. The presenter referred to how we “consume” radio.

I am not about to give a lecture on lexicography but the adoption of the word “consume” for every social interaction is part of a commercialisation of society which we are only now beginning to understand. Starting under Thatcher and continuing under Blair a political vocabulary was deliberately adopted to encourage us to view society as nothing more than a system of commercial transactions. It is responsible for a change in mind set, a coarsening of discourse and an emphasis on materialism.

Building societies morphed into banks, the borrowers changed from members to customers and the building market was opened to dubious practices including a flood of foreign money which helped drive property prices to obscene levels.

Football clubs became Plcs, the supporters became customers and were milked for money for branded shirts. The new PLCs then abandoned their traditional supporters for the much larger TV market.

Railways were privatised and passengers became customers. The emphasis moved from transportation to sales. The trains are newer, the stations packed full of shops but the seating is worse.

Even airports morphed into enormous shopping malls. As a frequent flyer I am continually irritated as I clear security and am deposited in the middle of a perfume section of some department store.

Humans are amazing animals. We live in complex social groups and each person plays many roles. We’re friends, brothers, mothers, lovers, teachers, neighbors, locals and strangers… least we were at the time of writing. We are also passengers, football supporters and club members.

So, friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. The essence of radio is storytelling which existed millennia before double entry book keeping and we do not consume stories. We listen to them.


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