ConnorHerb-at-Woodstock1I have developed a thesis over the past couple of days. It mainly concerns the younger members of our society, but is certainly not exclusive to them.

I have come to the conclusion that we, as a nation, are currently in the grip of a crisis of passion.

It is not fair to say that “people (or the young) don’t care about anything anymore,” because they do. The problem is that what the majority of them care about makes no fucking sense whatsoever, and we’ve had several news stories recently which have brought this message home.

Disbelief, hysteria, devastation – am I talking about the freak weather that hit Vanuatu? The tragic plane crash in the Alps? The prospect of an ancient civilization being forced to go bankrupt and ejected from Europe? The continued violence in Syria / Iraq? No. I’m talking about the reaction to the news that 1/5 of a group of young men who can tenuously be described as a band had decided to call it a day. He had dramatically retired at the age of 22.

Now I do not doubt that young Mr Malik’s life could be pretty stressful at times; hounded by the media and fans alike, it’s a wonder that any of those boys retain any semblance of sanity. But the scandal is that this news caused widespread pandemonium amongst our younger generations. If you want to see passion and emotion, people who are fully informed on all the latest developments, just question a 14 year old 1D fan on Zayn’s exit and what it means for band, the future of music, and the universe as we know it.

We also saw a posh, rich, rude, lanky, relatively funny man being fired from his high profile job for attacking a colleague over his selection of cold meats. Read that back and try and find the flaw in the story. Correct, there isn’t one. It may sound funny, it may sound bizarre, but it certainly doesn’t sound unreasonable. And yet apparently in some quarters of our scary and wildly unpredictable society this was considered further evidence of a grand plot to persecute the ‘normal (white) bloke’ and in doing so adhere to some kind of alien and thoroughly unwelcome sense of right and wrong. This time it wasn’t just the youth in revolt, no, here the great troglodyte legions mustered themselves and dusted down their keyboards / smartphones. After numerous failed attempts to “turn the shitting thing on” they unleashed waves of support for the poor millionaire perpetrator and vitriol for the bastards who had dared to discipline him. “But he makes a show that I like, and somehow makes me feel like it’s ok to still be a bit racist, a bit sexist and generally a bit of an old tool – in bad jeans – so how dare you fire him?”

What do these stories have in common I hear you ask? I’ll tell you what – they both involve a scary number of people who have absolutely no real connection to the events or individuals concerned, experiencing such emotional turmoil that they simply had to flood ‘new media’ with their concerns, worries and opinions. They genuinely cared about what had happened. They (wrongly) felt that these events had an effect on their lives, and they knew damn straight that they didn’t like it.

“Ah well what’s wrong with that?” some of you cynics at the back are asking. There’s a bloody election on, that’s what. Our country faces an important juncture in its contemporary history – will we embrace the politics and economics of ‘us who count’ and ‘those who don’t,’ or will we take a punt on a man who offends every sense of leadership that we have, but might, just might, have the guts to stand up for those who have been trampled on (with relish for the last five years, with disdain for the last 30)?

But ok, let’s not be narrow minded here, there’s more going on in the world than an election on our small island: Nigeria – the most populous and economically powerful nation in Africa – has just experienced the first peaceful transition of democratic power in its history; the major world powers are currently engaged in negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme which could dictate the shape of politics in the middle east for the next generation and prevent a thermo-nuclear conflict (yawn); Saudi Arabia has chosen to invade Yemen with the world’s backing because ‘the rebels’ have got a little too successful; the scientific community is united in declaring that our planet will be permanently broken if we do not dramatically change our behaviour within a scarily short period of time; oh yeah and mainland Europe appears to be on a path to political polarisation that hasn’t been since the inter-war years (see UKIP, the Front National, Golden Dawn, Liga Nord on one side and Syriza, Podemos, the Greens on the other).

But screw all that, what really gets my goat is when a Romanian builder comes over here, punches Dermot O’Leary in the face, barbecues a swan, gets a boob job on the NHS and then retires on his fat state pension to a 5 bedroom council house (villa) in West Hampstead.

Welcome to 2015 – you can ruin our economy, you can price us out of our neighbourhoods, but woe betide the person who comes between us and our shallow popular entertainment.

Written by Nick Yandle – a gentle giant.