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What did we do with all of this hate before they invented social media?


Everyone’s a critic, they used to say. Trouble is, in the new Twittersphere, the instant experts shoot first and ask questions later, writes Michael Blucher

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Gee, it’s getting harder and harder for people to do their job, isn’t it? At least at a level that’s satisfactory to the ever-expanding, increasingly hostile peanut gallery.

The platform for public ridicule is perfect. Every time we log on or switch on, somebody’s been “captured” on camera, messing up, saying or doing something stupid or inappropriate.

The smallest misstep, the slightest faux pas, and it’s game on. The abuse and belittlement begins, antagonists yelling long and loud into cyberspace, hoping to be heard, hoping to upweight even momentarily their sense relevance.

This week it was our bone-lazy PM, Hashtag Scotty from Marketing, “captured” enjoying a beer and waving his Sharks scarf around at the footy.

The temerity of him – taking an afternoon off after what? 100 days straight at the COVID coalface – 12-14 hours a day?

Worse still Scomo … you told us you were having family time? Where’s the family? And why aren’t you wearing a mask? And why are you drinking beer, while Victoria is back in lockdown? And of all teams, the Sharks … seriously?

When I last looked there were 48K tweets about Scomo at the footy. Forty-eight-thousand.

We care that much? Mind-boggling.

But these days, it’s not only our pollies who are the public punching bags. It’s everybody. It’s our policemen, filmed being too aggressive, too intolerant, too hasty, too brutal. Or heaven forbid, too lenient.

It’s our newsreaders tripping over their lines, an awkward interview, a guest walking offset, or a field reporter, caught unaware, goosing themselves in front of a national audience.

On the weekends, it’s more likely to be a disgruntled football coach, caught on camera chastising one of his players, or slamming down the phone in the coach’s box. Maybe it’s a player missing a goal from point-blank range, or dropping the ball with the line wide open.

“Footy star’s shameful shocker”… click here.

Regardless of the occasion, the peanut gallery piles in, like pissed idiots at an 18th birthday party, blindly and blissfully ignorant to the potential impact they’re having, or the social pain they might be inflicting.

Nobody ever slows to think about the context, the complexity and difficulty of the task being undertaken when the “mistake” was made, or the unfortunate moment occurred.

We just want to have our say. And if we can put somebody else down in the process, that will make us feel that little bit better about ourselves. Status – a primary neurological need. Google it.

The latest lot in the firing line – our SAS soldiers in Afghanistan. Guilty of war crimes, apparently. Somebody further up the Defence Force food chain even admitted as much, albeit from the comfort of an office in Canberra.

What about the blokes on the ground? The ones approaching “civilians” who may or may not be Taliban spotters, who may or may not have a grenade tucked down their trousers. What should they do? Bearing in mind the mob they’re up against – the Taliban – doesn’t play by any rules.

I know, we’ll get the view of the people sitting in the comfort of their lounge rooms, with a cup of tea or a cold beer, watching 60 seconds of camera footage taken in one village on one day by one soldier. We’ll get them to judge.

Do we even start to understand how these SAS soldiers live their lives? What they’re put through for three or more years to even qualify for service? Thrown out of a plane in the middle of the night, into the ocean, and required to swim 5km to land, with goodness knows what lurking below the water surface. And that’s just a training drill. Nobody’s trying to kill them.

How dare we overlay what we deem to be acceptable, while they’re the ones putting their lives on the line, every day they clock on for work.

Why can’t we just accept they know what they are doing? If, as highly likely, they overstep the mark at some point, then there’s probably a bloody good reason as to why. Let them get on with their business.

Of course, that’s not the way it works these days. Everybody’s got an opinion of what others are doing, and how well they are doing it. Here’s what think. I think you’re rubbish.

And we wonder why depression and anxiety is so widespread in the community.

Is the current public obsession with commentary and criticism the sole source of the pervading unease? Of course not, but it sure ain’t helping.

We’re all entitled to a whinge and whine every now and then, sometimes it’s even warranted. Accountability, after all, is a fact of life.

But the peanuts in the gallery firing off bullets day in, day out on social media would be well served by exploring their need to do so.

Unlikely of course they ever will. Any such deep-dive would be very, very uncomfortable.

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