The Big Eye: June 14, 2016

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It would be fair to say that my feelings for things ‘electronic’ and the internet has never gone beyond deep suspicion.

I’m sure we’ve all seen the benefits of being able to purchase goodies over the WiFi and although it’s nice to be able to see what the weather is doing in Vladivostok this morning I can’t help thinking we’re all heading for ‘hell in a handcart’ as our daily interactions with each other become limited to the weirdly self-important witterings of those who want to punt the inconsequential minutiae of their lives onto social media. Times change and we’re told the future now lies with on-line shopping and banking and it seems we are increasingly happy to remain cooped-up in our little boxes awaiting a visit from a surly man-in-a-van who will scuttle up our path with a big bag of stuff for us to view in the safety of our homes.

It may well be that this level of idleness is preferable to having to do battle with public transport and allows you to believe that staying at home is a way of contributing to the reduction in carbon emissions. And this is probably true unless you are one of the millions who now order everything in threes and send two items back to the warehouse in another diesel-burning van.

We are social animals and need to be involved with (and shuffling alongside) the rest of humanity for our own wellbeing and sanity and although there are some who’ll convince themselves that having 267 ‘friends’ on Facebook means they are well-adjusted people I can assure you that clicking and ‘liking’ things on a keyboard will only result in one thing…isolation.

Out here, isolated in carrot-cruncher country we are rapidly falling between the cracks in the internet as the world of high finance and international brands means we fall foul of their multinational marketing strategies. Last week it was announced without a word of regret or conscience that HSBC was closing another regional branch because we’re apparently all sorting our accounts online and footfall is diminishing. These banking businesses have rapidly withdrawn their support for our outlying ‘nether regions’ over the years because they simply can’t make as much money out of us as they can out of the branch in Oxford Street and to hell with our communities…once we’re no longer a worthwhile resource to be harvested we can be set-aside like unwanted cheque stubs.

The relentless shutting down of shops and businesses in market towns seems to be ramping up and as neighbouring retailers announce their closing down sales it automatically reduces the attractiveness of these small-town High Streets with a consequential downward spiral in visitors and turnover for the remainder.

So what’s to be done? Council executives seem both impotent and mute on this tricky subject and although it would be nice to think they had a plan, it’s patently obvious they don’t have a clue. Maybe they could try posting something facile on Twitter…!!