Martian Robots

Journalists and radio producers love a talking head.
No matter what the issue is, it feels good to be able to identify the person at the head of the group who has a strong opinion about it, either for or against.
This is why an organisation like Martian Robots can get ahead. All it takes is someone – let’s call him Dave Magog – to announce they are the director of the Martian Robots Foundation.
The idea of an organisation of Martian Robots is self-evidently ridiculous. But someone who declares they are the head of such an organisation will get a phone call every time a radio show needs to talk about Martian Robots influence in the schools, or medicine, or some other issue along those lines.
The people who speak on behalf of Martian Robots may be quite sincere in their views, but they cannot by any means be said to represent the views of that part of the population who are Martian Robots.
This is true for every issue. Small unrepresentative groups can obtain great influence by positioning themselves as the vocal champion for a large mass of people.
If a radio show is less interested in promoting debate than in generating heat over light, they will gravitate towards the more controversial and more extreme organisations.

If he generates enough heat and controversy, Dave Magog would find himself invited on multiple programs, multiple times every day, to explain why Martian robots were opposed to anything insufficiently Martian or Robotic.
Dave might even land himself a newspaper column, railing against a world of unMartin non-Robotic affronts every day.
Next time you know, Dave finds himself in a position to attract funding from a few a benevolent billionaires opposed to the oppressed Martian Robotic peopls. He’d have to hire additional staff as the demand for the Martian Robot voice increased.

It is a characteristic in all markets that eventually one player obtains an edge over the others.
Facebook killed off blogs and smaller websites. Google killed off all the other search engines.

Public debates can go the same way. The loudest voice gets more airtime, more column inches, more attention.
Dave Magog, or someone running a similar group, ends up being the go-to angry voice against the issue of the day on a surprising range of issues, far removed from the original brief of Martian Robots.

Magog might have started as a guy with one opinion, and suddenly there he is, against everything.
A career as a Magog might even be a viable business plan for someone with no other skills except ornery debating, once he finds himself in the contact books of enough journalists, editors and producers. But it probably makes for poorer debate.

Categorised as 200 Words

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and podcaster, yet still finds himself underemployed.