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Where did all the speeches go? Where did all the speeches go?
by Joseph Gatt
2022-01-09 09:18:33
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I remember times when there were so many public speeches I had to catch up with that I didn't have enough time. I literally had to sit through Sundays catching up with all the public speeches I had to catch up with from politicians, journalists, scientists, public figures, what have you.

Those speeches were a vital source for my job: through those public speeches I was able to identify the concerns, the gaps in reasoning sometimes, the unknowns, the problems to be solved but also what direction we were headed.

I used to take notes, write notes on what I thought were disagreements I might have with the speech, or perhaps clarifications on one aspect that seemed to puzzle the person who gave the speech.

spee000001_400Now people say that people stop talking the minute they're scared of losing their job. And that's a lot of people who are scared of losing their jobs right now.

The last couple of years, I've seen very few public figures posting ceaseless videos on social media, commenting frequently on social media, add to that all the long speeches they used to give, interviews, debates, and books they used to write. Along with the news articles they used to write.

Right now this culture of public expression is pretty much dead. Few people give public speeches. And I must confess that over the last couple of years I have been asked to stay quiet more than on one occasion, which explains that long periods of silence that I went through before being allowed to speak publicly again.

Leaders have been speaking publicly once a month, if at all. And most of their public statements lack so much information about the realities on the ground, are so disconnected from the realities on the ground that I feel that either they have not been updated about current events, or they have de facto resigned.

For scientists, conferences may have been cancelled because of COVID. But is there anything easier than grabbing a camera and recording a speech and posting it on social media. Which few, if any, scientist does. So the scientific debate has been pretty much absent over the last couple of years, as few scientists have discussed how their research has advanced. COVID may have brought society to a halt, history, biology or physics are still alive the last time I checked.

Journalists are getting on my nerves. I don't get paid. I starve. Yet I type articles and try to share as much useful information as I can. Yet you have my journalist colleagues who are paid a lot more money than I could dream of making, yet who have not produced a single article in the last 24 months.

Journalism has become what I call “copy and paste” journalism. That is you have news agencies come up with bland, boring news briefs that almost every journalist copies and pastes without adding dimensions to the story.

Public figures have been very quiet, to the point like they no longer feel like they are public figures. They feel more like they are normal guys from the neighborhood. When was the last time I heard a public figure give an interesting speech? Longer than I could remember.

No scientific debate. No debate on current events. No debate on future prospects. No new ideas. People no longer seem to remember older ideas. People no longer seem to care about ideas. That's what happens when people get their ideas from Tik Tok.

And now I'm like “what was the point of reading all those books if people seem to have run out of ideas?” and “what's the point of having done all that research if people no longer speak publicly”.

Now I do like sharing a personal anecdote or two. I like sharing personal stories and discussing the normal things we all do, sharing a recipe or two, or one traumatic event or two. But when that's the only thing scientists and public figures ever talk about, I have good reason to worry.

I remember Operation Guardian of the Walls, or the war between Israel and Gaza in May 2021. I don't recall one single Israeli public personality discussing the conflict in public. Maybe there was, just hadn't noticed them. I almost felt like I was the only Israeli publicly discussing the conflict. That was one hell of a scary situation, as I had no one come help me out in discussing the conflict publicly.

More importantly, there has been no public debate or discussing on how to handle the COVID pandemic. No public debate or discussion on how to survive the COVID pandemic. Damn it are people scared of losing their jobs.

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