Progress is a finger in your ear: Peter Rhodes on gizmos, microcheating and snitches in the workplace

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

OUR changing language. Micro-cheating, as defined this week by Martin Graff, a psychologist, is betraying your partner on social media but without any suggestion of secret trysts or full-blown adultery. Examples include: "Checking the social media accounts of former partners; sending emoji such as hearts and flowers to people other than partners; and saving mobile-phone contact details of a friend of the opposite sex under a false name." I can claim the moral high ground here as I have absolutely no idea how to do any of those things


AND more words. Between them, two great movements of the 21st century are spawning all sorts of new terms. I refer to gender equality and Trumpism. The first has given us the notion of "self-defining," by which we can all choose our own gender (and if gender, why not everything else about us?). Donald Trump has given us random words, some of which are made up on the hoof. As a result I can now claim to be a self-defining very stable genius. Bigly.

WHO'D be a government minister? Carillion issues a series of profit warnings. Do you a) award Carillion no more contracts and be accused of pulling the plug; b) give it more contracts and be accused of wasting public money or c) decide to spend more time with your family?

ACCORDING to that great philosophical poem The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, all our sins are recorded in a divinely permanent marker in some heavenly book: " The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ / Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit / Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, / Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it." Things change. When the Rubaiyat appeared in 1859, the idea was that only the Almighty kept the ledger.Today, thanks to the internet, your every utterance, every private joke, every confidential conversation can be recorded by the moving finger of some skulking, envious toerag and distributed to your enemies. "A nasty person with a grudge" is how Radio 4's John Humphrys describes the unnamed colleague who leaked his off-air chat about BBC pay rates with John Sopel. I don't always admire Humphrys' work but I do admire his restraint.

MEANWHILE, we are still waiting for an explanation of how the BBC China editor Carrie Gracie managed to endure working in an unfair, and possibly illegal, unequal-pay regime for 30 years before resigning. If it took her that long to figure out she was getting less money than the blokes, what sort of journalist is she? And can you think of any other organisation where you can resign from a top job, slag off your employer using rival media and then take another job with the same employer? Only at the Beeb. Just keep buying those licences, folks.

AMONG the gizmos unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Los Angeles is a voice-activated shower, a suitcase that follows you and a device enabling you to talk on your mobile simply by sticking a finger in your ear. And in what sense is this progress?

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world


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