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Rant: A Good Riddance to Anniversaries and 'International Something Day' Stories

BREAKING: A massive run on anniversaries of forgettable events and concocted days celebrating 'whatever' is threatening to bring global news reporting to a standstill. Some opponents have gone so far as to suggest solutions including a general embargo on Today Is International Something Day stories, but militants in the We Must Fill The Space Somehow tendency say this would lead to carnage and represent a blockade on modern news gathering. Yet another breakaway splinter group, the Hysterically Shrill, Righteous and Angry about Everything Faction suggests that attempts to do either, both or nothing would represent “an open invitation to chaos”.

It's a pandemic, isn't it? On Wednesday this week, we could don garish paper hats and blow hooters to celebrate both the mobile phone and bar code having reached the age of 40. The birthdays come in the same year that Ethernet networking also turns 40. It’s a similar case with the Something Days. We are overrun with this nonsense and where news once meant, well, new things happening, the preference for looking back is becoming overwhelming.

As Patron Saint of Column Fillers Richard Littlejohn might write, you couldn’t make it up. The age-old need to find a peg for a story has led to this situation, exacerbated by a general miasma of desperation and gloom in newsrooms. The technology sector is far from being alone in its culpability and complaisance of course, and you might argue that criticising spinners and hacks for their attempts to pin a fresh angle on the fact that another day, month or year has passed by is merely shooting fish in a barrel. But let’s not have that stop us.

The fact is that no day passes without celebration of an earlier day in history, a fond look back down memory lane and a long regurgitation of how things used to be bigger, slower, more expensive and, yuh know, different.

Look at that big old Nokia, looks like a brick and doesn’t even have GPS/4G/pico projection/multifunctional back covers in various striking colours. They used to cost £400 every time you called somebody on another network and you couldn’t even get Facebook or email so you could work all night on proposals that came over from Baltimore, the contact centre your boss offshored to Bangalore or your sales colleagues in Wackeroo, Australia. What on earth did we do in those days with our free time? HAHAHA!

Weren’t PCs huge in the 1980s? Look at the size of the monitors. They were heavy too. And slow. There was no Windows. THERE WAS NO INTERNET!

And if a general strike of the media massaging sector can’t find an anniversary there’s always an International Filler Day story to occupy the resulting gorge. Some are worthy (if over-frequent) but more are risible. A recent email began thus: ‘As World Backup Day draws near…’

There are exceptions to my draconian rules, of course. I enjoyed GS1UK’s fond look back at the bar code. It’s a technology that is under-appreciated and plays a big part in our lives in a sotto voce beeping sort of way, and the facts of the matter were presented in an attractive, colourful way.

But in general we need to put a cap on non-news stories that only exist because an unimportant temporal event has occurred or because somebody or something has arbitrarily deemed this a day to be celebrated in order to sell something. Or we should at least write these things well in advance and publish them on International Media Beano Day or Global Don’t Bother Reading Guff Day. That way we can all breathe a little more freely.

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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