AS the world rushes hither and thither to conquer one virus, another, almost as pervasive and pernicious within its own realm, is rapidly spreading unchecked.
The virus of click-bait journalism is devaluing words, dragging them down to bargain basement level and beyond.
Words are losing their value quicker than sterling’s decline in the global currency markets.
An example: the newspapers today “reveal” (they rarely simply “report” nowadays) that a TV star … has opened up about her struggles with mental health, to encourage others to get help.
It’s a story designed to halt readers flicking through the headlines. After all, who can resist discovering the identity of this courageous “star” of the small screen?
Especially as “struggles with mental health” are another intentional tug on our emotions – an issue deservedly being dragged into the limelight from an entire A-list keen to jump on a royal bandwagon.
In this case, the “star” is identified as a 28-year-old woman who appeared briefly on Channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins earlier this year.
End of story. No further appearances in the showbiz limelight at any level. No BAFTA awards or even mentions.
Traditionally, a star rises high and burns bright for a long time. So many names meriting this tag rush to mind depending on one’s personal faves. But one attached to a fleeting role in a scripted “reality” show is unlikely to be included.
This is but one small example of how our language is being devalued and debased by the rapid rise of clickbait hit-and-run news.
It doesn’t help that, much as one supports this star‘s cause, she actually opened up about her struggles with mental health many months ago to quite wide coverage.
Which makes this story not quite fake news but definitely old hat and recycled “news” that further devalues the words used to present it.
There is, of course, no “vaccine” capable of fighting this worsening disease. It is a killer epidemic we are destined to live with as we watch it take its toll on our language.
As elsewhere, the best advice that can be offered is Stay Alert!