REVIEWING the week’s television for The National isn’t a jammy gig. It’s a job like any other – except I have no-one to speak to and am developing nasty back pain from being curled on the sofa all day while trying to balance a laptop on my knee.

Yes, it’s a job like any other which means I still get to moan at the various tasks which need to be worked through, but instead of grumbling at spreadsheets or clients, I’ll grumble at having to devote an hour to the latest weak and watery drama, or 30 minutes to a very poor comedy. I’ll moan at having to stick with them long after most viewers will have surely switched off. When you’re watching something tedious, you become acutely aware of Einstein’s theory of relativity because an hour stretches into infinity and the hands on the clock simply refuse to budge.

So I’ll admit I winced when I saw that Hypernormalisation (BBC iPlayer) ran for two hours and 45 minutes. Could I devote almost three hours to a single documentary? Then I remembered how I was gripped and silenced by Shoah which the BBC broadcast again last year, and which runs to more than nine hours. Suddenly three hours seemed like nothing, but, bearing in mind Einstein’s theory of TV, there was always the chance that these three hours might spin into a grey eternity.

What is the subject of this spectacular documentary? It’s hard to summarise it, especially as I’m still reeling. After watching it I felt sorely depressed, but a little wiser and, hopefully, more aware of what the elites do and say, and what “reality” they want us to accept.

HyperNormalisation is the latest film from the brilliant Adam Curtis. Firstly, it asks who is in power, reminding us it’s not necessarily politicians. He reminds us of a period in 1975 where New York City was broke and took out massive loans to prop up public services. When the loans couldn’t be repaid, the banks stepped in with suggestions on how to run the city and recoup the money.

Basically, the banks were in charge and decreed that austerity be enforced on the population, and that vital public service workers such as teachers and fireman be sacked. Democracy wasn’t running the city. Instead it was being run by “the logic of the market”.

Elected representatives were helpless because there was no such thing as discussion or negotiation with the bankers. Money, and the need to recoup money, was in charge.

Yet this erasure of democracy wasn’t the most troubling aspect. Even worse, the film argues, was the total abdication of society’s rebels. If the 1960s were about counterculture and rebellion where had that all disappeared to by 1975? Why did protesters and poets not cry out against this? Curtis argues that the collective action of the 60s had been replaced by individualism. Mass protests, communes and community action had given way to “an ironic coolness” where art tried to change what was in people’s heads rather than tackle the bold and blunt exterior of the world.

Protest stopped being in-your-face and slunk off to studios and boozy discussions round the kitchen table “While we were dozing, money crept in.”

With few people to question or confront them, the elites were able to construct a fake and simple version of the world, one which is palatable and easy to understand. It was a world where Colonel Gaddafi was a cartoon baddie, evil, dangerous and smirking.

But when Bush and Blair decided they needed him in their crusade against Saddam Hussein, he was magically sold to us as good and helpful.

Hollywood baddie to cosy ally, just like that! Easy. Simple. We can all understand it: the world is nicely divided between good and bad and there are no confusing shades of grey and no bristling, uncomfortable questions.

Most of us are far too complacent and unquestioning and we go along with this like tired sheep. We accept the reality they deliver to us.

Even when protesters do raise their heads, cyberspace has neutered them. Today’s protesters use Facebook or Twitter to make their arguments, but algorithms, plus the nature of social media wherein you’re speaking to “followers”, means your arguments are being received by those who already agree with them.

No-one outside your hipster circle is reached. Instead, the activists talk to one another, pat one another on the back, and get an inflated sense of righteousness through the accumulation of likes and retweets.

Admittedly, social media is great for rounding up groups of protesters and asking them to descend on Wall Street or Tahrir Square, but that’s all it does. It’s a handy newsletter but it’s not a way to generate ideas or productive debate – the algorithms see to that – so we get thousands of angry, enthused young activists gathering to shout, then shrug, then gradually go home.

I despaired when watching this, as I recognised myself as one of the perplexed sheep.

When we’re fed news constantly, and when it’s happening in a world full of anxiety and chaos, how can we tell what is real and what has been spun, warped, tarted up and repackaged as something different?

The answer from so many in Scotland, post-referendum, seems to be that we should shun the “MSM”, but I’d rather trust an established news source than an anonymous blogger, and who’s to say these new blogs and websites aren’t busily crafting their own “hypernormalised” version of reality?

We could shrug off the media entirely and turn to activists and thinkers, but so many are hidden away in the echo chamber of social media, growing fat and complacent on the adulation of their followers, trying to crank out tweets to spark the praise of the tedious “social justice warriors”.

Yes, I felt depressed after watching this, as I don’t know what to do. If you can’t trust politicians, elites, rebels or activists then who can you look to?

Following that train of thought led me, dismally, to Thatcher’s belief that there’s no such thing as society. I desperately hope that’s not the case.