I’ve received several requests to sign online petitions to Save the BBC. The petitioners seem to think that any cut to the BBC is an absolute outrage to be resisted until death – even if it is being proposed by the BBC itself, which does have a vested interest in its own survival. In classic BBC fashion, they seem to have chosen the wrong things to cut – the good bits that the market isn’t providing – but I can’t see that it’s wrong to admit that the BBC can’t do everything and scale back. A pre-emptive strike against cuts being imposed from outside, perhaps? (And personally I hate and rarely use the BBC website, so big, so bland, so smug. It should have been pruned years ago).
I haven’t signed the petitions, although I love the BBC for all its faults. It’s the fizzing outrage of the emails that puts me off. There’s no nuance in the argument, no recognition that there may be more than one side to be considered. At least one of the organisations that petitions me for support, regularly asks for suggestions as to what I want them to protest about next. It’s as though it’s the act of complaining that’s important, the opportunity to vent about everything that’s wrong in the world, rather than doing the difficult and often dull work of bringing about real change. A classic armchair warrior, I’ve clicked yes to petitions for Amnesty, Reprieve and Friends of the Earth, pro-democracy in Burma, anti-homophobia in Uganda and lots more that I can’t remember. What happens to it all? Is this real democracy in action, or knee-jerk populism? And, as one post on the Guardian’s 6Music story remarked, is it just me, or are Facebook and Twitter now running the country?