Latte Heroes

Growing up in Northern Ireland was a poor lesson in Irish history. Even in my catholic maintained school we didn’t learn much about recent history but concentrated on the Norman Conquest and the Famine. As Liam Neeson says on the “Michael Collins” movie web site:

“”I’m from the North of Ireland,” continues Neeson. “In my history books at school, this period got about one sentence — the whole Irish independence movement got maybe one paragraph. These people were presented as rebels, to be put down. We learned about the Great Fire of London, but not about our own history.”

My own history teacher was definitely a Nationalist at heart and expanded upon the official curriculum as much as he could. I may not have liked History as a subject but in retrospect he was an excellent teacher. He introduced us to the concept of “Guinness Heroes”, men who would become brave through drinking a couple of pints but whose bravado was generally limited to strong talk and rebel songs.

This is kid of how I feel about some people on the Internet. It’s easy to be a pundit and shout and scream but much harder to get people to actually do things. And they might rant with closed comments about how the AppStore does this, or how Google does that or how we should boycott Microsoft all while gripping a Café Latte from their favourite multinational coffee chain.

What value do the blog pundits bring? I’ve been witness to some travesties of communication over the last week where the ‘online community’ is realising that their icons are dead. We don’t need to be following big name A-list bloggers to be part of the online world. And the response – the growth of home-grown Z-list bloggers – people you have to be following in order to hear the next big opinion. Sure – some of them express some outrage at the idea of bloggers being paid to write. Pat Phelan’s recent blog captures some of this succinctly. So there’s outrage….and….then next week we’ll all be waffling about something else.

Latte Heroes – venting outrage from the comfort of coffee house chairs. Not actually doing anything about these injustices because, in the grand scheme of things, there’s people starving in this world and these petty injustices really don’t matter. Outrage creates a blog post and then on to the next textbite.

I think I’d hate them more if, you know, I wasn’t one of them.

Join the Conversation

No comments

  1. I’ve opened up comments again. There was a decent reason to close them, but there’s no good reason to not have opened them again. Thanks for the push. (For the record, I don’t drink coffee and I don’t visit coffee houses, so stereotypes are just that – stereotypes.)

    Is your point that we can’t feel outrage about anything unless it’s a lasting commitment, or unless we dedicate ourselves to solving the problem instead? And is it really so wise to start by supposing that everyone is equally useless on this front?

  2. Touché.

    As you say, people may starve in this world, which is why I donate a fair bit of money to charity and has done so since I was a student and already tight on money. There are two ways you can look at this: you can say that I’m just consoling and drugging my conscience and that I really should go down there and save people myself, like so many brave doctors and liberators have done, and how dare I compare myself to them by feeling the least bit good about contributing anything. Or you can say that it’s good that I’m doing something, when I just as easily could do nothing.

    One way argues that we must all be heroes. Another argues that even those who can’t be can contribute. I feel that we should all do as much as we can.

    In the case of the proverbial “latte hero”, I’m not even sure what it’d mean to be a “real hero”. In the case of the Guinness Hero, there’s a historical backdrop. One could assume that the real heroes fought for their country and for (or against, were they not Nationalists) reunification with Ireland.

  3. I didn’t say anything about that. This isn’t about berating others for not going out and saving the world, one disadvantaged child at a time. This is about the ridiculousness of people who get all het up about the distribution model of the iTunes App Store or the theory that google might be evil (based on the weird assumption that anyone at Google cares about individuals as opposed to crowds).

    The recent hubbub about whether bloggers declare their sponsorship is a perfect example. Storm in a teacup.

  4. That was a better way of putting it. (I brought up my example because, by your comparison, it seemed like you had some different ideal in mind that we should all aspire to, especially since you seemed to be ashamed to be one of ‘them’.)

    I’d rather have a storm in a teacup than nothing in the teacup at all, although the sheer invented drama of some people begins to tear at you after a while. But if I’m going to take a stance on something, I’m going to take an unequivocal stance, such is my style of writing. You can cope with it or you can stop reading. You can also label me and pretend it solves anything.

  5. I’d rather there was debate as well and your closed comments have annoyed me a couple of times (which again is a finger pointing at the sheer pointlessness of it all). Thanks for opening them up. I promise to be constructive or inflammatory 🙂

    You can also label me and pretend it solves anything.

    Okay 🙂

  6. In many countries, open comments are a legal liability, which I learned the hard way. If anyone wants to respond to any of my blog posts, they need to do so on their own host or on a public blogging service, making sure that I can’t be held responsible for their words by acting as a publisher for them.

Leave a comment