What you're missing if you're an intellectual

13th November 2017

I’m not ashamed to tell you that I religiously check Twitter every morning before I even think about opening a newspaper. I’d rather be writing about Stormzy’s brief entrapment in the female toilets at the MTV European Music Awards than international relations and I’m not afraid to admit that.

There’s no doubt in my mind that I am an intellectual. I have a first class degree from Durham, I’ve read the entire collected works of James Joyce more than once. Does that stop me following Kylie Jenner on snapchat? You bet it doesn’t.

There’s a big distinction in this country between what we can and what we should talk about. I’ve learnt the hard way that there are certain situations where it’s just not acceptable to talk about the latest developments on Made in Chelsea (see: your seminar group, a job interview and dinner with you middle-class boyfriend’s parents).  Yet in the bright new world of social media we have to start asking ourselves, is a hyper awareness of popular culture really so shameful? Why should some conversations be reserved for Saturday night rather than Monday morning?

On that note, here are some stories you might have overlooked this week:

the doctor
The Doctor’s new outfit; Image: BBC

Today broke the news that Boris Johnson’s father will be launched mercilessly into the I’m a Celeb jungle next week. With tensions between stark right and left wing camps higher than ever in a Brexit-torn country, this certainly is giving a voice to some controversial opinions in the most public of platforms.  

Fashion trends can make a huge statement on capitalism and shifting global markets. Kim Kardashian West’s latest app, ScreenShop, is revolutionising the way items are advertised by letting social media users scan posts to find items immediately available online. This is an exciting development for buyers yet concerns have been raised over how this will impact independent businesses and fashion bloggers.

Jodie Whittaker’s first promotional pictures for the Doctor Who Christmas Special were released, striking at the glass ceiling of gender equality yet one only has to take a brief glance in the comment section to realise that sexism is alive and well in modern Britain.

Furthermore, Taylor Swift’s hotly anticipated new album Reputation  just dropped, which actually makes some pretty relevant comments about an ideal construct of femininity and the heavy policing of women’s sexuality. Straight off the heels of the Weinstein sex scandal and Swift’s own recent sexual assault court case, there are some powerful messages buried beneath the trope melodies and melodrama music videos.

None of these stories will change the world. With harassment suits, acid attacks and earthquakes I would forgive you for believing that you don’t have the time for them. But nothing is more pressing in my mind than what everyone is actually talking about when they think no one important is listening. I’m not suggesting that the life of tabloid stars is the most important form of awareness; certainly we should all strive to be as engaged as we possibly can with many diverse and conflicting aspects of current affairs.

Yet there comes a point where we have to admit that we live in a strip tease culture. People care about what’s immediately in front of them. Like it or not, they want reality television and OK Magazine. What’s popular should certainly not be disregarded on principal, in fact I would suggest that what everyone is talking about is actually one of the most valuable windows we have into society.

13th November 2017