- Editorial by Nick Gibbs
I must start by saying that one death is too many. For the family and friends of those who have died in tragic circumstances this year there will be no relevance or comfort in any statistical relationship to any other fatality or trend over time. In writing this article I remain mindful of their personal loss and grief.
My objective here is not to prove any point. Certainly not to argue that we are not in the midst of a particularly difficult time.
But just how much worse are things in 2018? Are they worse? I am routinely seeing comment on our social media distribution of articles along the lines of this being so much worse than anything that has gone before.
My objective is to present a few points of consideration. Information I think people should take into account before we all get too carried away.
I repeat I am not trying to disprove the severity of the issues we face, just giving you some information you may want to consider before deciding how much worse things truly are.
August vs August
I turned to the newspaper editions for August 2014, my first year in the editor’s chair at The Ibizan. In 4 editions we reported on:-
- 1 death by fall, considered a potential suicide.
- 1 death by body found floating in Ibiza Town port.
- 1 death in Police custody of Luke Rhoden
- 2 further deaths by fall
- 2 deaths by road traffic accident
- 1 death after a man had his arm severed travelling in a car of drunk/drugged party-people.
Also in the news was the controversial ‘Don’t Walk Home Alone’ campaign, based on the problems of violent attacks, especially on the San Antonio Paseo. The campaign was a joint initiative by San An Town Hall and The British Foreign & Commonwealth Office. It was aborted on the grounds of creating fear and giving the Town further unwelcome bad publicity.
It is no scientific test, but it certainly shows a similarly awful series of incidents over a recent peak season period.
So Why Does It Feel So Much Worse?
I do have a few ideas on that. Of the points below some may apply to you, and particularly how you access media, some may not.
1. Additional Negativity?
The August comparison shows a similarly appalling series of fatalities. Perhaps it feels that much worse currently because of the compounding nature of additional negative news regarding the many restrictions being enforced, and the ongoing problems of street crime and human pressure. These additional issues have always been present, but they are much more prominent this year. This is in part due to the responses of disgruntled groups affected by the changes and so actively campaigning against them, and in part because some of those issues are ones that are relative to our ever climbing human pressure indicator.
2. News Feed?
This really only applies if you look to the Ibizan for much of your Ibiza news. I do not think it will apply as much to locals, but I do think it might explain why it feels a lot worse to some of the people posting comments such as “what the hell is going on over there this year” – there have been a lot of them.
Changes in our format and publishing means we are now publishing individual articles much more frequently. For example back in 2014, all the fatalities above were reported in a single weekly newspaper. One ‘hit’ of bad news. Now we publish individually, and in some situations several articles for one story, so you might be getting 10 ‘hits’ of bad news where you used to get one. That would inevitably feel worse, but it doesn’t mean it is worse.
3. It’s Hot?
Not as flippant as it sounds. We do all get more tetchy in August, emotions flare in the same way tempers do.
4. Statistically It Should get Worse, Without Being Worse.
The maximum number of people in Ibiza on the peak August day in 2017 was 374k. In August 1997 it was 235k. This is an increase of 60%. In any given population is is reasonable to assume that if there are 60% more people, there would be minimally 60% more crime. Also the British tourism market continues to climb by around 5% a year in the long term.
5. Comparison To What Standard?
I am surprised when I see some comments from people I know in the U.K. along the lines of “what is going on in Ibiza?”, “It’s all going to pot in Ibiza”. Comparing 2018 Ibiza to previous years Ibiza is one thing, but I am afraid I start to get a bit twitchy and defensive when I see anyone in the U.K. comment on perceptions of some Ibizan social decline.
From all of the feedback I get from friends and family, from U.K. news, and from my own visits to the motherland, I think those concerns and attention might be better directed to Britain’s issues of social exclusion, racial tension and urban violence. I’m sorry, but however bad Ibiza is, and I don’t think it is anything like as bad as all that, it is still a hugely safer place to be than the U.K.
I took my family including my 8 year old son into what the majority of our knockers would say is the ‘worst part’ of Ibiza on Sunday night. I had a camera costing a couple of grand slung around my neck. I did not question any issues of safety and felt comfortable and relaxed for the duration. There are areas of the U.K. I would not take my family at any time, and would be reluctant to visit myself.
So what I am saying here is that a bit of balance wouldn’t go amis. Ibiza could afford to ‘get a whole lot worse’, and still not be bad by international standards.
Can That Explain It All?
Sadly, I do not think it does. I do think the factors above should make us question the severity of how much worse it really is this year, and I definitely do not think it is anything like as much worse as some people feel. But there is one factor that I still find very concerning outside of a purely numbers based statistical comparison between the years.
Violent Crime & The Importation of Violent Crime.
An obvious difference in the fatalities in 2018 compared to 2014, is that minimally 2, possibly more, of this year’s deaths have been as a result of violence.
In 2014 only 1 was violence (debatable), the rest all due to excess, stupidity or accidental tragedy.
This is a far too small sample to draw any conclusions, but I would certainly fear an Ibiza that imported the increased severity and normalisation of violence ever more evident in the urban U.K.
Of course none of us would want that, but it would certainly mean the consequences of Ibiza’s difficulties in the area of law enforcement and street crime were being played out for much higher stakes.
And Finally …
Tricky this. I think it is a point worth making, but I don’t want to have my own ‘Ratner’ moment as a result.
This issue does not affect the amount of bad things happening, but it does affect the proportion of negative vs positive news. Perhaps we all have to make a collective acknowledgement that it is grim news we are drawn to read?
I have the unusual insight of comparing the interest in and attention given to good news/bad news via our own website articles. We also work very closely with the Diario and I have access to their data also.
On the evidence of the years I have been doing this job, I am left with no doubt that for many of us, the worse the crime, the more tragic the circumstances, the more appalling the details, the more we are interested. I do not think this is something we should beat ourselves up over, I even think there is a natural survival instinct good sense in our being this way, but I do think it is something we should acknowledge.
It is that natural human desire that makes the tragedies the front page news. It was why in our winter editions I used to love having Cat Milton’s wonderful Ibiza landscapes as a ying and yang on our front page. Good and uplifting news is never so far away if you go looking.
It is a bad year for tragedy in Ibiza, but perhaps not so much worse than any other year. We need to have empathy for the victims of every tragedy in their own personal loss, but keep in perspective that Ibiza is a very safe place to vist and to live providing normal and sensible precautions are followed.
For the very last time, by objective is not to prove anything to you or convince you of anything. It is simply to ask you to question whether the drama and severity of this 2018 being the worst year ever is justified.
In my mind at least, it is not.
I know from past experience that this type of article will receive some responses from people wanting to argue over specific facts and details, and from those determined in their view that there is some hidden agenda or purpose in my presenting this information. Though I do of course respect your right to question anything and everything, I probably won’t get involved in those Rabbit hole discussions. In this case I am simply presenting these thoughts, consider them or dismiss them as you will. Either way, thanks for reading :-)