Paul on Being Relevant

Paul Stafford
Paul on Being Relevant
Everybody wants to be relevant. Everyone wants to be heard. The biggest failing of Western education is
that we are taught to have an opinion. About everything. Whether or not it is about whether Marmite is
good or whether abortion should be legal, as long as you have an opinion, you have a voice. And if you
have a voice, you have relevance in this world, right? Nope, not really.
Has truth ever been tangible? If anything it is relative. To older generations, music, literature, film and
theatre were the main sources of opinion fed into the public domain. People would shape their views
around such mediums. A couple of generations further back and religious institutions and family would
be the defining benchmark of personal theoretical belief.
Now it is social media that seems to hold sway. And that has become such a smorgasbord of crappy,
poorly thought out rants that the truth may never have been further from our grasp. In fact I am inclined
to think Oscar Wilde was spot on with his observation that “Most people are other people. Their
thoughts are someone else’s, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” Slip that through the
filter of 140 characters and short attention spans and you have “most people are fractions of other
There is a great quote from the 1981 film called ‘My Dinner With Andre’ that goes: “See I think it’s quite
possible that the 1960s represented the last burst of the human being before it was extinguished.”
The theory being that we have become confused and imprisoned by our own technological advances
that we do not even realize we have been, to an extent, lobotomized and dehumanized. Today we will
happy wrangle with one another over twitter about pernickety issues so that we are distracted from the
reality that we are trapped in the swelling blubber of the financially bloated Jabba known as the ruling
elite. And there is no more perfect cliché to prove that than the enraged comment posted in reply to a
statement somebody does not agree with on their iPhone. Apple incidentally will soon be worth $1
trillion. Apple already has $180 billion cash in hand plus about $630 billion in assets. Their cash in hand
alone is worth more than the annual GDP of New Zealand or Morocco.
If we could just step outside the maelstrom for a moment, one logical idea seems to formulate; in most
cases there is no right or wrong answer. Sure there are arguments that are far clearer cut, like should
women and racial minorities have an equal standing in our society to white men (the answer is yes, just
in case you were not sure). But if we were to avoid the petty differences of opinion over issues that are
beyond our control or that just do not matter, focusing our vitriol could free us. But it won’t because we
are more preoccupied with venting their ‘formulated in 5 seconds’ opinions to get more followers to
make ourselves feel relevant.
But of course that is just my opinion, and I’m certain there will be plenty of you out there who will
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Paul Stafford
Further Ideas:
Paul on flaws in the UK film industry – Tax breaks and Harry Potter changed the landscape of the
UK film industry, but without support of local filmmaking, Britain will lack a creative class and be
left with a legion of well trained film manufacturers. But just like the closing of the mines, if
Hollywood work dries up, where will that leave us? And how is it killing our own home-grown
Paul on war coverage – Back in 1853the first full war journalism came out of Crimea, complete
with pictures and shocked a generation into voting with their conscience. Today you can watch
GoPro frontline footage and nobody cares enough about the government’s war policy to vote
against war.
Paul on cheese dreams – How far would you go as a creative to get new material? Paul goes
undercover with a block of cheese to see if it throws up any inspiration.
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