Am I affected by the media? Do I listen and get all involved, do I read the papers and feel indignation rising with every word? No, would be my reply. I can listen objectively and not get drawn in to whatever new crisis is dominating the news. Regardless of my personal situation, living conditions, current habitat, I can tap into the news be it in Ireland or Qatar and remain unperturbed… I like to think.
This time last month, I was flinging water bottles into the bin in Qatar on the hour. Not a black, red or blue bin, just a regular silver kitchen bin from IKEA, one bin for all in Qatar, the country where we don’t recycle or separate a scrap of rubbish. Not at household level or any real level, I sure if you googled it, Qatar has and acceptable recycling statistic up there somewhere. Eye on the prize, the short-term prize, that’s how we operate in Qatar, and the environmental impact can be managed by a good PR company. Massive cars with matching fuel tanks and skips a plenty filled with everything from a used TV to a yogurt carton, no issue with paying for rubbish because we don’t pay, the government handle that. No issue with the environment because we’ll eventually move back to Ireland and the hole we’re making in the ozone in Qatar won’t stretch to Ireland; and no issue collecting, separating household rubbish, there’s a million, literally, poorly paid workers exploited to do that kind of thing.
And this time last month, we were planning our escape from Qatar, fearfully watching the news, reading between the lines and hoping that military intervention wouldn’t be the next step in the Gulf Crisis. Turkey and Iran were staying supportive to Qatar, lobbing in chickens and milk and promising to send troops if needs be. The UAE and Saudi and the others on the bandwagon were digging in their heels, even blocking us expats from travelling via Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Every expat panicked, some more than others, because in Qatar we are all equal but some are more equal than others. Locals probably panicked too but at least they were stuck at home, we were possibly stuck abroad!
However, after two weeks in Ireland and I catch sight of myself in the mirror, squashing milk cartons, frantically trying to fish out anything that can be deemed recyclable, carefully taking the paper label from the tin of tuna and washing the plastic from the deli ham, I listened to the radio about how the pay by weight system is going to be introduced this month. True Irish style and just like the property market, the rental market, car insurance market, hell even the food market, there is no minimum charge, and of course, no maximum charge either, so basically companies can charge what they like! Brilliant, brilliant if you’re in the refuse collection business. Not so brilliant if you have 4 kids and a need for a conveyor belt leading to a skip and not a kitchen bin.
As I’m stripping, squashing and rinsing, I listen closely to see can I hear ‘Qatar’ mentioned in the news but no mention, like every summer home I usually keep it simple and tell people I live in Dubai, rather than explain where Qatar is but this summer is a little different, I find I’m explaining where Qatar is, what’s going on and how ‘da crisis’ is affecting us, are people bothered?, nope, they’re more bothered about the bins and frankly, now that I’m in Ireland, it’s my concern too, Bahrani airspace occupies less of my time and recyclable granola packets more. Where once the air space around Iran was the shortcut one my phone, ‘cheap deals in the west of Ireland’ now takes centre stage but the idea of a reasonable hotel in Westport seems about as likely as Qatar agreeing to ‘the list’
So, long nights were spent on Skycanner, trying to find a way out that would be work with the blocked airspace and that one corridor of hope through Bahrani airspace. Accessible air space and Al Jazeera news updates were the shortcuts on my phone and here I am two weeks later, obsessed with recycling and Groupon hotel offers. It’s all about perspective. So, in answer to the initial question, am I easily influenced by the media…. maybe.