South Africa Big Brother the Observer

SCARY: Ipads, smartphones, Channel 4Seven, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, Homeland, The Undateables and boycotting Israel

By Colin Grant

June 3, 2012 | 5 min read

Here are two frightening examples of how social media is changing our lives.

According to Robin Henry in The Sunday Times: “Parents are using iPad video calls to snoop on the lives of their estranged or former spouses.”

Apparently a lot of children whose parents had split got gifts of smartphones and iPads for Christmas last year from their dads.

The kids were then encouraged to use the new technology to help dad spy on mum.

In one case a mother walked into her living room wearing only a nightie to find her former husband staring at her from the screen of her child’s iPad.

It doesn’t say what he was wearing, but Louise Halford, a partner in Pannone Solicitors says her firm has seen a steady stream of cases in recent months.

Now courts are restricting the child’s use of parental video calls to just one room.

I wonder if we’ll soon need special court-appointed spy cameras to enforce those judgements.

Definitely shades of Big Brother there and I don’t mean the boring programme on the box.

Although, coincidently, the TV version of Big Brother could soon become a beneficiary of a new social media buzz.

The headline on Maggie Brown’s reports in The Observer is: “Coming to your screen, the TV channel with programmes chosen by Facebook”.

Channel 4 are about to launch 4Seven, a TV channel which lets viewers choose what’s on. According to the paper: “...shows that create a critical buzz in newspapers, chatter on social media through Twitter and Facebook, and reaction on the overnight log of comments kept by the broadcaster can be repeated the next day.”

The idea came from Dan Brooke, the station’s chief marketing and communications officer, who says: “Repeats used to be a dirty word, but now there is so much on viewers say they are missing the best stuff they want to see.

“People do use online catchup but viewers really want to watch on big screen, in their lounge.”

That view sounds as if it would receive approval from the estranged dads, but I’m not so sure about the whole thing.

According to The Observer “Hit shows like My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, Homeland and The Undateables are expected to be popular on the new channel.”

As I stated earlier, frightening.

Equally scary is an article in The Independent on Sunday entitled: “Israel is new South Africa as boycott calls increase”. If that’s the paper’s view it can hardly describe itself as independent.

The sub-heading reads: “After Madonna began her world tour there last week, campaigners urge cutting of cultural ties”.

This is misleading because the boycott has been inexistence for years so it’s a bit like the Channel 4 repeats, without the buzz.

The story calls for a cultural ban on Israel because of its oppression of Palestinians.

It fails to mention that for every minute of its short existence (formed in May 1948) Israel’s citizens have been under constant threat of attack from heavily-armed Arab hordes encamped on its borders.

Nor does the paper remind the readers that modern suicide bombing was created by Palestinians with the specific intention of wiping out Jews in Israel.

But what really got my blood boiling was the suggestion that somehow a boycott is a legitimate tactic.

I’m sure Journalist Jonathan Owen will be prouder of other stories he’s written.

He describes how Omar Barghouti, a member of a Palestinian group calling for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel, is unhappy about Madonna’s performance there.

Others who have, quite sensibly, ignored the likes of Mr Barghouti are Paul McCartney, Elton John, Rihanna and Leonard Cohen.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lenny Kravitz and Guns N’ Roses plan to play Israel this year, thus boycotting the boycott.

Good on them, I Say.

Here’s why: boycotts are illogical.

If you are going to boycott something on a principle, like I’m sure Barghouti and Co are, then you ought to be consistent. Otherwise you leave yourself open to the accusation of being a bully.

For example, those opposed to the UK’s intervention in Iraq or Afghanistan (and very many people who don’t like Israel feel this way) should boycott the UK as well.

Perhaps they could start by refusing to buy British goods, or drinking our water, using our electricity, roads, schools etc.

This would be a very good test of their principles.

I am a man of principle, that’s why I will not be boycotting The Independent on Sunday.

Despite my disgust!

COLIN GRANT is a former journalist who now runs Spectrum PR, a Glasgow-based public relations and media consultancy.

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