On Twitter, 2021 has begun as 2020 ended, with professional journalists unable to stomach criticism and the routine elevation of asinine nonsense.
I’d have preferred 2021 to get off to a better, and if not better, then less stupid start than 2020 left us with, but wishing ain’t gonna make it so.
I’ve noticed a couple of things recently, mostly around the threads and topics I follow on social media. One that leapt out is that Australian journalists hate it (HATE IT) when they’re exposed for being not very good at their jobs. Their jobs, which they do in a public forum, as part of a public trust, aided and abetted by a social media platform like Twitter in order to promote their work or fuel their (occasionally odd) takes on the issues of the day.
They’re providing a service and the public consumes it. If they were supposed to be serving gelato, but serving dog turds instead, you’d expect the consumers to make at least a medium-sized fuss. But apparently, the fourth estate has been doing the ‘dog turds in a cone’ bit for a while and gets all worked up when it’s not welcomed as being caramel-smothered mocha almond fudge.
Nine’s political editor Chris Uhlmann is one case. He seems preternaturally obsessed with pronouns and unisex toilets (for whatever reason, bit sus if you ask me), and then makes stupid statements on Twitter, sees a response and calls out the fact that nobody has a sense of humour anymore. He’s weird, that dude.
Then there’s the supposed journalist who writes partisan hit pieces against the Andrews Government in Victoria masquerading as ‘news’. Anyone who tuned in to the lockdown press conferences saw and heard just what kind of hectoring, badgering nonsense she tried to inundate Andrews with – and just how better Andrews is at his job than she is at hers. So, January 5, she was back at it, this time taking the stick to acting premier Jacinta Allan, and apparently, the feedback from the public wasn’t all sunshine and roses, so she comes out with a piteous bit of self-serving word vomit about how she’s a political reporter, simply doing her job. That the one time she did a doorstop with Scott Morrison she asked him a tough question, once, and nobody heaped praise on her for it.
Personally, I tied my shoes this morning, and made myself breakfast, AND went for a walk, AND fed the cat. Bring on the accolades, or are we all too partisan for that???
For anyone trying to hold the media account for fairness and balance, this past year has been a doozy. The ABC’s 7.30 Report covered a story about how sad it was that hard-done-by Victorian families had to scramble to cross the NSW border back into Victoria when it closed on New Year’s Eve. Which it did, like the government warned it might, when they told people to think twice about going to NSW over Christmas. Like, an official warning to not do this thing, X, because the very real consequence might be this other thing, Y. And off the boil went RN’s Patricia Karvelas because she seems to want to call out how inconvenienced people were who got stuck in traffic on the way home after ignoring the government’s directive, only to have people point out the facts. To a journalist.
The consequence of people staring at their screens and devices for 23 hours a day is that we tend to get lumped into bubbles of like-minded thought, and even the dumbest shit in the world gets politicised.
If the past 12 months had a theme, ‘twould be: Hell hath no fury like a middle-class person mildly inconvenienced. Odd that a pandemic would do that.
Here’s the thing with social media: it’s not mandatory to participate. If every last one of them deleted their accounts and just stuck to the broadcastable/printable facts and left it there, nobody would notice, or care.
And it’d be fine if the media held the NSW government to the same scrutiny, or the federal government, for that matter. But the fact is, they don’t. Everything’s a disaster, a bungle, a shambles when things go even mildly wrong in Victoria; when the same thing happens in NSW, it’s being handled well by the government, and the gold standard, and contract tracing, and it’s Dan’s fault anyhow.
Last year was tough – for some more than others, but unless you went into the jigsaw puzzle business or are Jeff Bezos, it was all a bit shit. And the consequence of people staring at their screens and devices for 23 hours a day is that we tend to get lumped into bubbles of like-minded thought, and even the dumbest shit in the world gets politicised.
I’d have liked the new year to have been less stupid and polarised than 2020 was, which is wishful thinking on my part. My expectations were low, and I’m sadly disappointed by what I’ve seen so far. Because then there’s this Bean Dad thing, which is perfectly stupid and doesn’t deserve mentioning beyond: he should have shown the kid how the can opener worked, got it started for her and then let her finish. Learn by doing. But somehow the Twitter algorithm allows this mindless nonsense to become part of the discourse, dominating the news cycle when tens of thousands of Britons are getting infected with COVID-19; hundreds of thousands in the US, Trump’s trying to stage a comically bad coup, and that the Bond girl from A View to a Kill was dead, except she wasn’t, despite what her agent and partner said, before reconfirming her passing twenty-four hours later.
Stupid. It’s not too late to start over, 2021.