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Note to the disappointed: there are disasters, and then there are disasters

August 16, 2020

I have nothing to say that could add to the outrage felt by young people across Britain whose grades have been distorted or downgraded unfairly by an algorithm, except that shit happens. The same shit that put the most incompetent government for decades in charge at a time when we needed competence most.

For that shit, they must blame their parents and grandparents, or at least those who voted these donkeys into power.

I will, however. offer a few words of consolation to those who feel that their lives have ended because they didn’t get the grades they expected. Whatever the ignorant might say, life doesn’t stop because you didn’t get into Oxford, or because you didn’t get your place to study medicine. If you want it badly enough, appeal. If that fails, try again.

And if it turns out that you decide not to go to university at all, be aware that whatever Gavin Williamson says, grades don’t determine your future. In a few years they’ll be an interesting footnote to your personal histories. What will determine your future will be you.

To put your heartache into perspective, think of the millions who put their lives on hold at the start of World War 2, and survived the experience to rebuild productive and successful lives. Think of those who escaped from conflict-torn countries since then – India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Iraq and Syria to name a few, who prospered in their adopted countries.

Shit might happen, but it happens in orders of magnitude. You might not want to hear this, but however earth-shattering your shit might feel to you, you have not been bombed out of your home, lost your families, seen your life’s work destroyed, risked injury or death to reach a safe haven and started again in a culture and society that is not your own.

So count your blessings that you aren’t starting from zero. By all means allow yourselves a period of grief and anger. Then reset your ambitions and carry on.

Oh, and since you will soon be of voting age, help to make sure that those whose incompetence has caused you so much pain never get another opportunity.

8 Comments
  1. As usual, you’re smack on the button with this post Steve. Absolutely first rate work.

    • Thanks Ronnie. Always good to hear from you!

      • Always good to read what you post Steve. So thoughtful, intelligent and rational work, and a genuine privilege to read. Thank YOU brother.

      • You’re too kind as always!

  2. You make a good point about the importance of grades. I don’t think anyone has even looked at mine since my first job — and not too closely even then. What employers want to know is what did you do in your last job.

  3. It definitely does put things into perspective, though you do acknowledge that students have a right to be outraged. Though I think a lot of the anger lies in how today we are still a very socially immobile society and it looks as if things are getting much much worse.

    • Thanks for your comment. Social mobility is an issue that transcends most others, and goes to the heart of the deep structural problems of the internet age. I often think that it will take a huge catastrophe to reset society and redress inequality. But I don’t think the current pandemic is that catastrophe. In fact is some respects it seems to be making inequality worse. Take the dominance of the big internet companies, for example, and the disproportionate effect of the virus on the disadvantaged. Inequality, along with climate change, is one of the issues of the decade, if not the century. S

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