Getting ready the other morning, a radio advert caught my ear. It featured a spaced-out child telling us that he’s “always there” following the life of a father, because “I’m the boy he killed 5 years ago”. A tragedy that apparently took place because he was speeding.” Scare tactics iarea key government weapon against the British public, which they are very keen to use.
Most of these campaigns have an annoying tendency to sensationalize the ‘bad’ habits of the public. Only recently, the department for climate change suggested that our carbon footprint would cause dogs to drown. Cigarette packets scream “smoking kills” instead of the more accurate “smoking can kill”. We are told that if we are fat or drink more than a couple of pints a week, we will get diabetes, suffer a heart attack, bankrupt the NHS, and then die. The product of government pressure and interference is everywhere: on the TV, cinema, airwaves and billboards, in the age restrictions plastered across shops, and on the breakdown of my saturated fat ration staring at me from my sandwich.
The government often laments that despite lavish ‘public awareness’ campaigns, we simply aren’t adjusting our behavior. Their response is to create even more adverts, leaflets and initiatives. What they fail to grasp is that the constant bombardment of propaganda creates a ‘lecture fatigue’, where people simply tune out to the meaning of any message being put across.
Maybe, just maybe, there are issues that the government would do well to highlight. But to make these problems stand out, they need to stop casting a pall over all and sundry, so they can be taken seriously.