It would seem logical to assume that a nation’s financial markets would reflect the economic well-being of a country, and that a nation’s media would reflect the news and concerns of society at large.
Unfortunately, I would suggest that this is no longer the case. Despite jaw-dropping national debt, a fall in GDP that has reversed 18 years of growth, and alarming levels of unemployment, the stock market would lead one to believe that all is well in the economy at large.
With regards to the media, many people may be worrying about the genuine economic uncertainty that the lockdown measures have created, along with the knock-on effects on education and the lack of cancer screening that has been undertaken in order to ‘protect the NHS’.
A cursory glance at the main stories in the media over the past couple of weeks would lead one to believe that statues, long drives to get child care support, and subjective offence at old comedy sketches are people’s main concerns.
The disconnect between these two realities in the media and financial markets is a genuine cause for concern and is something that journalists, politicians and captains of industry need to address.
The danger of allowing these two pillars of society, the economy and the media, to become so detached from the daily lives and concerns of the population, is that this will cause mass disenfranchisement and will give room for genuine extremism to thrive.
By that I do not mean the type of cosplay extremism that is reported in the news at the moment. I instead mean genuine political extremism, from both the right and left, and a potentially damaging work environment in which companies and employees find themselves at loggerheads in a way not seen in the UK since the 70s.
It seems to me that the media and large corporations have chosen to completely immerse themselves in the distorted reality that is Twitter, without pausing to reflect on the fact that it is a market place of ideas and opinions that has consistently misjudged the political mood of the nation. Examples include Brexit and the Tories’ 80 seat majority, two political outcomes that nobody believed would happen on Twitter.
For the long term good of the nation this has to change.
Firms enjoy updating social media with empty words of support for whatever social justice buzzword of the week is being hysterically reported by Piers Morgan, but this is not helpful.
It would instead be better for them to focus on actively engaging in communities across the UK and demonstrating their commitment to provide social mobility and opportunity to people from disadvantaged backgrounds, whatever their race or creed.
The UK has a brilliant workforce and a hard-working population that simply wishes to be allowed to flourish and build a better future for themselves and their families.
Corporations are able to make these goals real and attainable for countless people, and it would be far more beneficial for themselves, and society as a whole, if they spent more time focusing on impactful change on the ground, rather than promoting a hashtag or meaningless phrase.
More and more independent organisations erupt on the internet as an antidote to the divisive narratives permanently emblazoned across our screens and tablets.
If the mainstream media want to survive, remain relevant, and be a force for good, they should start reporting in a fair and balanced way. Not only that, they should focus on the topics that the majority of people care about rather than incessantly forcing their own, often metropolitan, agenda into every aspect of life.
The media must stop constantly portraying the news through a lens that seems to force identity politics into every single piece of news. Instead, the spotlight should be on addressing stand-alone issues on their own merits, and reports should be on topics and issues that are of genuine interest and concern to people outside of Twitter.
For the good of the nation, it is incumbent that large companies and the media class start to get back in touch with the real economy and the concerns of the majority rather than the loudest.
If this does not happen, and this disconnect continues, the future for the UK may look very grim, and the hardships seen during the lockdown will look positively minor in comparison to the future that is being currently being forged.