Monday, April 10, 2006

Why do I blog? Reason No. 1

I'm going to start what's hopefully going to be a successful little project with this blog that I've planned for quite some time and I want to give a little bit of background as to why I'm going to do it. Its not going to be the blog's central focus, but it'll be an important part of it.

I've noted for a long time that more established and better bloggers than myself having been having arguments over their raison d'etre. Why blog? What difference does this make? This discussion is not only commonplace, but I'd hazard a guess that it will be a feature of blogging for as long as it exists. I have no wish to reopen the argument but I would really like to add my two pennies as to why I blog. Or rather, just introduce one of my main motivations. Its only fair really, and hopefully it will give you a little more insight into the person who writes this.

I blog to beat the system. The system is dictated by who you know, not what you know. So far, so full of truisms. I, like many of you out there believe passionately in a meritocracy. But I also realise that this is an ephermeral thing, like notions like freedom, and democracy. It honestly does not exist. I'm going to share with you a little bit of my experience to illustrate my points. The immediate caveat is that this will be immediately subjective, not objective. But hey, you know better than that already, right?

I've been to University and I've seen plenty of the "Yahs" who never had to worry about their grades. Daddy not only supplied them with a credit card to cut their coke, but he will also make sure that they will never have to worry about unemployment. Having financed myself through University, I was broke by the time that I graduated. I had to go back home to the farm and then work my way from there to Belfast. After doing everything from frying eggs, waiting tables and working in call-centres, I finally managed to get a full-time job in the NHS. After that I came over to England for the girlfriend I met in Uni. Stuffing envelopes followed, then work in another call-centre, until finally an administrative position with a major corporation. Now, I've just had an unexpected promotion and you would think that I'd be all fine and dandy and everything that happened in the past doesn't matter anymore. Unfortunately I'm human, and its not fully the case.

There are three directions my life could go in for me to be happy pursuing a dream career. One of which is politics, which it should be plain from this blog is a major part of my life that I am very passionate about. The second would be life as a writer; this has seen efforts in the forms of the odd film script, two short movies and countless other ideas that await being brought to fruition. The third would be to write and present History documentaries. History is something that I've loved since I could read. It may have made me a boring, strange child, but hey, the only difference is that now I'm older.

To the end of getting into History documentaries, I managed to beg, borrow and steal just enough resources to do a month long placement with an independent television company in Belfast. The people there are nothing short of brilliant and I won't have a word said against them. I learnt loads, but in the end there wasn't a full time position to go to with them, although they employed me quite a few times as a freelance researcher, something I'm very grateful for. But I needed to get a paid position with a bigger company, or even the BBC. The difficulty with this is that I never got any answers back from all the speculative CVs etc sent around. The marketplace is saturated with people looking into the meeja. I also quickly learnt that the only way into BBC Northern Ireland was that you have to be blood. I have seen more contracts and jobs go to those with relations than sense. Nepotism, sheer unadulterated nepotism. Anyway, I had had my chance, and I couldn't afford another stint of unpaid work, so back to reality as my old man is fond of reminding me.

The only problem is that you don't ever really lose your dreams, instead, smothered by the reality of needing to earn a living, and subject to the vagaries of chance, they lie dormant, sometimes wandering about just to remind you of what you really would have loved to have done with your life. And sometimes they erupt as wild, jealous furies.

Now is one of those times. An old friend of my girlfriend managed to get an internship with the BBC in London. This, I will admit is pure chance. Grudgingly, I wished him the best of luck, but not before letting rip out of earshot. My particular problem is not that I'm not up to the job, I've already proved that. My problem is that I don't have rich parents. Don't get me wrong, I didn't grow up in poverty, but when you come from a family of seven, it would be a bit selfish to ask your parents to cough up so that you can provide the public broadcaster with free labour. (And you thought you paid too much with the TV licence.) Anyway, he duly went on to do his internship, complained about not having any money, and the last I heard of it, he had had a falling out over a particular subject matter, (I sided with him on this) and was probably not going to get anything further.

Since I have now got promoted, my current role is now up for grabs. Believing him to be without a job, I alerted him to the vacancy so he could have a go at getting it. (This is not the same as arranging for him to get the job.) I got a text back from him:
"Hey buddy, thanks for letting me know. Sorry about the delay in replying but I'm in France at the moment. I won't need the job as I've just signed a contract with the BBC as a History Researcher."

Needless to say, my blood boiled. I summoned up the restraint needed to send a text back, "Well done." But it just sums the whole situation up. He didn't even study History at Uni! And he's in France living it up! It pisses me off to think about it. But there are two things I have to learn from this, and this is where the self-centred moaning ends. Number 1 is that this is the way of the world, and no amount of moaning will change it. Its a market. Companies are overrun with people who would do anything to get a meeja job, so they can dictate any terms they want. And the only ones who can accept those terms, which amount to slave labour, are those with parents who are rich and willing to fund them. This has knock-ons in terms of the types of programmes broadcast, the social make-up of the media, and what the rest of us are forced to endure. It says a lot when you read a story related by Nick Cohen that a clown's surefire act when all else goes wrong at a children's party is to do theme tunes and impressions of the characters on TV never works at a party for children of TV execs. This is because they won't allow their children to watch the tripe that they produce. Number 2 is that if you can't play by the rules of the system, you have to find a way of undermining it. This is where my aforementioned project comes into play. Come up with a better idea than they can and try to execute to the best of my ability with my limited resources.

Am I bad person for letting my jealousy get the better of me? Overall, I don't think so, not when I see him waltzing into a job just because he is from a better off background. But it isn't pleasant, and I feel deeply uncomfortable with these all too human feelings. When it comes down to it, he is one of many friends of mine who fall into this bracket. Its not their fault they were born into those backgrounds. I appreciate them for who they are on an individual basis, as I think they do me. When he gets back from France, I'm going to buy him a beer.

And then glass him...


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