Living in the grip of the hyperbolic followers of Gubba

20 12 2011

I visited the BBC website yesterday and I noticed the following question; Was 2011 the most eventful year yet?

I clicked on the question because I wanted to see if 2011 was the most eventful year in the history of the Earth. The click led to this page. After reading its contents I was disappointed to find that 2011 wasn’t the most eventful year in the history of Earth. Some important and serious stuff happened – the death of dictators, earthquakes and a royal wedding – but this kind of stuff happens each year if you live in the right, or wrong, place. I really began to doubt the author’s claim when he put forward one of our chancellor’s six monthly budget announcements as one of the so-called important events in 2011. 

I began to think that everyone now views the world in the same way that Tony Gubba, the master of the misguided hyperbolic statement, views football matches.

When I was younger I lost count of the times that I heard him say something like  “…with what will surely be a goal of the season contender” or “… conjured up one of the best saves ever” during his match report on Final Score. After he told us about the supreme skills he would always urge you not to miss Match of the Day. Needless to say I took Tony at his word so I’d tune in  to watch Match of The Day in the hope of being amazed by some exquisite skill of fantastic piece of aplomb. I’d always end up disappointed.

I’ll partly give him his dues, he had always seen something that was above average but it was never that fantastic. After he had cried wolf for the umpteenth time I realised he was a false prophet and stopped listening to him. I wondered how the balding fraudster could lead us all on.

The page that I found on the BBC website shows us that Tony’s outlook is becoming widespread. The author of the page on the BBC website seems just too certain of himself. I can’t understand how anyone can attempt to judge the historical significance of the time in which they’re living.

Sometimes you can tell that you are living in a historically important time. For example 1989 felt important at the time because of  the end of the Cold War. The Cold War conditioned peoples’ thinking so you knew that the world would be different when it ended.

The effect of events are hardly ever this clear cut. There was no way that people living in 1919 would have known that the Versailles treaty would help Hitler’s rise to power. People living in 1939 would not have known that they had just witnessed the start of a six year conflict that would result in the deaths of millions. These people would have lived through actual world changing events without realising they were living at such an important time. We also need to remember the effect of unintended events upon the course of history.

It says a lot about the rampant solipsism of our time that we believe that our time is the most important. This lack of an ability to see beyond our own experience blights the media. Every time there’s a top 10, top 50 or top 100 poll in anything and it’s always skewed towards the time that the poll was taken. 

The coverage of football is full of this crap. Whichever team does well / plays well for more than couple of seasons seems to be granted the title of one of the best ever by tossers like Andy Townsend. Likewise whichever player happens to mesmerise the viewing public for a few years is given a place in the pantheon of world football’s heroes.

Last week I experienced a symptom of this kind of thinking when I watched a programme called “Barcelona’s 50 Greatest Goals” on ITV4. This programme wasn’t about the best goals scored by Barcelona in their history, it was about the best goals scored by Barcelona in the champions league (not the European Cup, just the champions league).

Consequently we only saw goals scored after 1994. The title of the programme should have been  “Barcelona’s 50 Greatest Goals as long as you limit your choice to the ITV Archive”. We need to compare things in order for things to be remembered, and so we don’t get carried away, but the media goes about this in the totally wrong way.

I do wish people would stop with the hyperbole. Some of us don’t need to be sold things all the time. Some of us know things already, please give us some credit for that.

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