i Editor's Letter: Give back to society


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It's Pavlovian. When a journalist enthuses about something, there is a knee-jerk cynical response among certain readers: "Well, that's got you a free iPad", "That's you sorted for Emirates upgrades", and other such hilarious rejoinders.

This week I've been trolled for it twice: by recommending Mad Men, and celebrating the British genius that is JK Rowling.

It's part of the malaise I described yesterday: we suffer from such collective insecurity that we find it easier to knock things down than build them up. It takes much more confidence to be positive and enthusiastic than to be negative. As an aside, that's actually one of David Cameron's stronger personality traits.

As a moody, pretentious student, I revelled in cynicism. It seemed "cool" to put everything down and rage against the man, or the machine. In truth, there was little to rage against at Exeter University other than Sloanes and the dreadful weather. This was my rebellion against my Ma's indefatigable enthusiasm in the face of huge life obstacles.

Only when I moved to New York did I truly understand the chasm between healthy scepticism and debilitating cynicism. To live in America is to appreciate the difference between their all-too-easy-to-mock "can-do" attitude, and our creeping "why-bother?" culture. It wasn't just about backing business start-ups or recommending restaurants, it was their almost universal desire to "give back" to society, be it through charity or coaching, and the joy they take in introducing people they like to other people they like. I became determined not to conform to a "miserable Brit" tag.

So, come on, i readers. Let's rise above donorgate, pasty politics and fuel fiascos - what are you proud of in Britain? What do you enthuse about? Tell us. It will make you feel better.