#Hackgate #NOTW #Murdoch - if you're on Twitter these are the go-to hashtags for proving you've got your finger on the political pulse. If you're on any news site, you're urged to visit the live streaming of events; the latest resignation, confession, lawsuit. My view on the whole debacle? Disgraceful, absolutely. Complete invasion of privacy? Without a doubt. Something we'll probably forget about or get used to? Pretty likely.
Think of the issues that have raised our national hackles in the past few years; oil prices, cash for influence, expenses, bankers' bonuses...for a while we're appalled, outraged, demanding justice, or at the very least all the juicy details. And then? Business as usual. Should we do more or realise that we're a fickle bunch?
It was an intrusion too far - way too far - when news surfaced that the News of the World commissioned a private investigator to hack into the voicemail of (at that stage) missing teenager Milly Dowler, with the hope that an exclusive would be forthcoming. What was forthcoming instead, from this despicable action, was hope. But it was the worst kind of hope for the family of a missing schoolgirl - it was false hope. The British public was absolutely revolted by this flagrant disregard for a family's privacy in the direst of times - so we started baying for blood; the News of the World's, the Murdochs', Rebekah Brooks', John Yates', our newsagent's for selling the News of the World...
Fast forward a week or two and we've had a select committee hearing; whose sole purpose seems to be to satisfy the public's wish to humiliate the Murdochs and hear the words, "We were wrong." As it turns out, what with #piegate and #slapgate, even if the Murdochs had prostrated themselves on the floor at Louise Mensch's feet and cried remorseful, earnest tears we wouldn't have noticed, we were all too busy giggling at Jonnie Marble's "You naughty billionaire" insult. Rebekah who?
Having an ethical, fair media is something we believe we're entitled to, just as we believe we're entitled to politicians who aren't the bedfellows (reluctant or otherwise) of said media. So should we vote with our feet at the next election or our newsstand? By all means, if you genuinely consider your chosen alternative can provide you with the principles you crave, then get those shoes on. In all likelihood though, as you pause to tie your metaphorical shoelaces, you will hear the barely audible sound of hands being rubbed together in glee; and if you're lucky, you'll catch a whisper of incriminating emails, phone records and Facebook friends being deleted before they welcome you with open arms.
I don't think we'll vote with our feet; neither will many of us protest, sign any petitions, write any letters or do anything more taxing than try to think of a pithy line on Twitter to demonstrate our displeasure. By August, there'll be a new hashtag, Murdoch won't be synonymous with Lex Luther and our national outrage will be directed towards something else.
Yes, we'll still respond with a grave shake of the head if it comes up in conversation, just as we do when someone reminds us of the moat we cleaned for Douglas Hogg, or the fact that we might have to fork out £9,000 to send one of our kids to university. I'd love to believe that this whole affair will bring about a change, but that's not fair on the thousands of upstanding, ethical people working in journalism and politics. Saying they're all as bad as each other is our way to feel comfortable with doing nothing, to excuse our short attention span and- OMG did you see Kate Middleton's outfit??