So shoot me down for being a bit hopeful, but I’m seeing a few “moments” that are adding up to a nicer picture than we’ve been dealt recently.
These zeitgeist observations tend to land you in trouble. Or they used to. You flag a personal thought or you simply put out an idea for discussion and you get shouted and trolled down, often for some pinnicky, side factor, or a typo, or a joke that lacked perfect nuance. That’s been the way for a while….for too long.
This has saddened me. This pouncing-for-the-sake-of-pouncing has shut down deeper, more reflective thought. It’s made women too self conscious to voice their feminism. It’s left bloggers, journalists and authors second-guessing and toning down their writing to avoid attacks from commentators who refuse to do the deeper thinking around an issue, instead putting their energy into shredding complex ideas with facile, destructive, binary judgement. And then click-baiting it.
And it’s left our political leaders talking in three-word slogans. Slogans that talk to policies that are facile, destructive and binary.
Stop The Boats.
No Carbon Tax.
No Queue Jumpers.
Sometimes Shit Happens.
Here in Australia we’ve had a very significant leadership change that we’re yet to absorb fully. But I found it telling that a Liberal frontbencher (in the former Prime Minister’s Government and presumably in the new one too) summed the change up like this:
“It feels like we are now able to speak in full sentences and have ideas.”
Good Lord. That’s how base we’ve gone lately. To think a frontbencher is rejoicing that he/she can actually be treated, and treat us, as folk with actual brains and hearts.
An optimistic mood shift has equally occurred at the street level. I’ve devoured the commentary and water-cooler talk on this leadership about-face and find it the most fascinating of the five we’ve had in the past five years (yep, seriously, for those reading this elsewhere). It’s like everyone is relieved. Not because we have stability (I doubt it), nor because we ALL want a liberal Liberal in power (not all of us do, in principal). But because the new PM talks ideas and in full sentences. He gives due consideration. Again, another considered read from Samantha Maiden.
He’s capable of deeper thinking and taking on complex ideas and, oh, you know, a few shades of grey. At least that’s how we’re feeling.
In the past few weeks we’ve also witnessed the worst of the shock jocks getting a jolt of redundancy. Learned commentators (oh Glory be!) are pointing out that we finally have a PM who doesn’t need/want their backing. Can you imagine?! A world where Alan Jones et al are forced to withdraw a bit and have good hard look at themselves…and think about what they’re saying!?
I was at the Australian Women’s Weekly Women of the Future event last week. You might have heard, the former PM’s chief of staff spoke out freely for the first time about her time in office. As she said, in 16 years in politics she’s only ever spoken out an anything private once before (about her struggles with IVF).
You might have noted the irony in Credlin speaking out only after Tony Abbott exits office.
Regardless, the point I’ll make from the evening is this: Every person in the room, most of whom I would pick as being left-leaning in their politics and very possibly critical of Credlin’s reported behavior as CoS, listened. The vast majority were compassionate, even if aware that there were shades of grey to the picture she painted that night (of being attacked solely based on gender). They didn’t snark. Or troll. As someone said, “That’s because none of the trolls and bitches were invited”. Perhaps they were, but somehow didn’t turn up because they detected the vibe was not conducive. I don’t know. But what I do know is that the talk of the town that night and for the days following was about how the feel in the room was truly collegiate – respectful and considered.
As I wrote to the host of the event the next day in a “thanks for having me” email, it was a rare atmosphere indeed. Or it has been.
In a related “moment” (I feel I should have three to make this a worth trend alert), I’m reading today a bunch of reports from the weekend about how model and TV host Jesinta Campbell responded to the couple of snarks who did get facile, destructive and binary off the back of the AWW event. Below is a snippet of some of the nasty stuff posted in a column written by Daily Telegraph’s Annette Sharp, followed by Jesinta’s response.
Jesinta’s social media response:
As I Facebooked after I read the above: “I want to see more of this measured pushing back on mean media operators. Shut them down with reason and calm mirror holding.”
Jesinta also responded beautifully, with a mirror, to snark from a usual suspect (an Australian journo), following the event:
It should be noted, both snarky commentators were not at the event.
A few other moments that have grabbed me as pointing to a bolder, more considered, more inclusive, more “grey”, more principled way:
- Obama stepping into 11-year-old Ahmed Mohamed’s defence when his school assumed he had terrorist intentions.
- US rapper Chris Brown denied entry to Australia for concert tour due to violent rap sheet. It should be noted he breezed on in on a previous occasion, shortly after beating Rihanna.
I don’t know, friends, do we have ourselves a shift? Can you smell it? Are we growing up a bit?