It was on Saturday morning during a break from attacking the duvet cover with a lint roller and cursing Colin for being so damned fluffy that I saw a tweet from a PR for whom I had much sympathy.
Bought the Mail for the 1st time in years today (client coverage), it really is like entering an alternate universe.
The Mail isn’t my paper of choice either (and then some), but being a PR sometimes necessitates that we buy publications that fall outside our normal reading habits.
Of course, one might argue this is no bad thing. It’s remarkably easy to get sucked into a media diet of opinions concurrent with one’s own, and suddenly you can find yourself viewing the world through unconsciously self-imposed, but very narrow lens.
I read The Times on a daily basis, and the BBC site. I like Time and the Economist and the New Yorker and, on a Saturday when I have a bit more time, I’ll also pick up the Telegraph (although that’s mainly for the GK crossword when I’ve been beaten by the Times’).
From that little list, you can probably tell an awful lot about me, and if I always stuck within those media realms, I’d get a very particular view of the world. But, because of my job, I don’t: I read a whole host of other publications too, which is invaluable in broadening the mind, and testing one’s views on almost everything.
Of course, reading outside one’s comfort zone has its dangers and can, on occasion, inspire fearsome rage. I don’t read The Spectator because it makes me cross enough to spit; The Writer very nearly had a meltdown over croissants on Sunday morning over something that had been said in The Observer; and the Guardian has the same effect on me almost every time I pick up a copy – the sneering articles about how dreadful posh people are annoy me greatly, and the less said about the spelling, the better.
I don’t buy celeb magazines – something I was told off for in my previous job, because it meant that I wasn’t in touch with a huge swathe of public opinion (little wonder that I’ve decided I prefer corporate to consumer PR). Horribly snobby maybe, but I just don’t care: life is too short to look at pictures of the latest X-Factor contestant’s armpit hair, and frankly I’d far rather read something more intellectually engaging. Or poke myself in the eye with a pencil. Whichever comes to hand first.
But then, maybe I should. Maybe it would do me good to get down off my high horse and discover what’s so compelling about the reams of celebrity gossip – because given the immense popularity of celebrity magazines, there’s clearly something in it. And while I’m at it, maybe I should give the New Statesman another whirl and see if this time I can get through an entire issue without being cross enough to burst into flames.
And perhaps those of us who quite wish they’d lock up the Mail’s Liz Jones – and not just for crimes against feminism, quality journalism and sanity, but for theft as well – should indulge a little more in Melanie Phillips’ views on immigration.
If nothing else, proper immersion in arguments on the other side can test our views, and see whether our arguments stand up. It better informs us about differing views on the world, and gives us a much broader understanding of what’s going on. Or else it induces such levels of crossness that we spontaneously combust in a fit of rage thus negating the need ever to read anything ever again.