Bullshit fatigue

You’ll have to forgive the change of pace in the output of these exclusives.

I have news fatigue. Bullshit fatigue. Hot-take fatigue. Journalism fatigue. Every time I turn on a television I am gripped with the urge to pull it off the wall and throw it through the nearest window.

News and social media have transmogrified into a propaganda machine, to the extent that they are almost indistinguishable from each other. Race and gender politics have come to dominate headlines, whether that is the jailing of British Viscount Rhodri Philips for a threatening Facebook post about anti-Brexit campaigner, Gina Miller , or President Donald Trump’s behaviour towards Brigitte Macron (vomit), to Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s decision to migrate to the motherland in the hopes it will be more tolerant than Australia (bet of luck with that), or giving Andy Murray a proverbial medal for fact-checking a journalist, or the Florida State’s Attorney, Aramis Ayala,  who was seemingly pulled over for driving-while-black, or an unapologetic hot-take from Clementine Ford simultaneously claiming to be a victim of trolling while continually setting her own troll-army upon anyone who dares disagree with her, or the decision of an Australian law school to examine the compatibility of Sharia with common law.

Hot-take after hot-take none of which go any way towards addressing inequality of which these examples are but a microcosm, while making social media-platforms billions and news organisations a few dollars in the coin jar of desperation. If they’re lucky.

It goes like this: Issue. Dissection of issue. Panel debate of issue. Sound byte from politician. Dissection of said politician’s sound byte. If it goes well, dissection of comments made during the analysis (particularly if the speaker is brown or female – or both), social media fall-out, coverage of the social-media fallout, panel debate about the social media fall-out, a micro-analysis of the panel participants’ body language, op-ed about the whole fiasco, a counter op-ed dissecting the author’s choice of language, and-on-and-on until something else happens and the cycle repeats itself ad infinitum.

Nothing tangible ever results from the all important Conversation. It is literally all talk. No action. Because we have come to expect less and less of our appointed leaders, and each other.

Your white privilege and virtue signalling and micro-aggressions and safe-spaces have been monetised to satisfy the fiscal requirements of the Facebook board, and the Twitter board and Medium and BuzzFeed and Reddit and Amazon and Snapchat and the cacophony of other platforms monetising class, race and gender wars with seemingly no concern for the social consequences.

Just. Keep. Them. Clicking. And. Posting. As. Often. As. Possible. The content doesn’t matter so long as it is Engaging. And Brief. And gets people sharing.

‘We want to be a part of the conversation.’

How many times have I heard that cliche uttered in newsroom all-ins?

In the attention economy the foundation of your outrage doesn’t matter, so long as you’re outraged. What you post isn’t important. It is your reaction that is being monetised. You are free to use the platform as recklessly or cautiously as you like. So long as you can get a reaction. Outcomes don’t matter. Profits matter.

And here I am holding off on my weekly newsletter, because I do not wish to pollute the interwebs with more redundant words. What could I possibly write that would make a lick of difference?

And while all of this is happening 664 million people live without access to clean water. Nearly half of the global population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.

Heck, Flint Michigan residents are still living with contaminated water. Meanwhile, more than 170 Indigenous Australians living in the Northern Territory were found to have the highest blood lead levels of any children in the developing world, more than 17 times the acceptable rate.

Barely anything that is written today, or has been suggested in the halls of Parliament or Congress, if at all, will do anything to address these problems. And this fucking post is no different.

The gulf between rich and poor gets ever-wider but we’re all so distracted fighting for victim status online that solutions seem… unimportant. So long as we can get our ego stroked by friends and strangers, what does it matter what policy options separate the major parties? They’re all the same anyway, right? Things will get better. Go outside for a walk. Play frisbee in the park with a kid. You’ll feel better tomorrow.

And so for the sake of emotional-self-preservation we move on. We cope. We do what we can. And then we turn to social-media for solace. And what do you know, we’re part of the problem before we’re even done spewing 140 characters worth of bile into the ether.

To quote Warren Ellis by way of Spider Jerusalem in Transmetropolitan:

There’s one hole in any revolution, large or small—people. No matter how big an idea they stand under, people are small and weak and cheap and frightened. It’s people that kill every revolution.

We no longer expect the news to serve the public interest. And the news is no longer interested in content that puts the social good at its core.

There will be countless column inches devoted to Scott Ludlum’s resignation from The Green’safter discovering he held dual Australian / New Zealand citizenship, but nobody is holding the politician’s feet to the fire over homelessness, or domestic violence, or the fact that workers are slowly but surely receiving less and less of the profits of their labour. We’re lucky to get a column or two over the $4 an hour internship agreement setup by the  (Australian) government of Jobs and Growth. But nothing will happen. The legislation likely won’t pass and that will be the end of it.

No one is interested in policy outcomes. Not the press. And not its audience. (That’s us).

This terrifying Kafka-esque reality we find ourselves in is the living consequence of two centuries of unbridled imperialist and then capitalist expansion, and if we weren’t so busy fighting amongst ourselves, we might actually have a chance to turn our attention to those responsible: The Aristocratic class and the political elite whose wealth has always come at the expense of the majority. This includes people of colour as well as the alabaster variety.

The Cheney dynasty has had a hand in almost every coup since the Allende assassination in Chile, but has seen not one day inside a court-room, let alone a jail cell. The Bush dynasty profited handsomely from the Iraq War and continues to profit from the 15-year ‘incursion’ in the Middle East.

Billions were made by investors during the Global Financial Crisis. And subprime fraud continues – now legitimately – to this day. Imagine speculating on the financial misfortune of others.

Education has been privatised. No longer the refuge of knowledge and information, universities are for sale to the highest bidder, and any ideas which conflict with profit are simply stricken from the record. Neo-classical economics continues to be taught at universities around the world despite the fact that it is wrong and has been proven to be so time and again. Technology courses sell software, not security solutions. Business courses are financed by the banks.

But here, take this BuzzFeed test on how woke you are.

We are on the precipice of a new era. Everything is up for grabs right now. If ever there were a time we all could make an outsized difference in how The System works, it is now.

But does anyone care? Does anyone have the least bit of interest not only in having these issues covered, but actually resulting in some honest-to-goodness legal and fiscal consequences?

Australia wants to build a fucking space agency while almost three million people live below the poverty line. The entire population’s Medicare details were leaked onto the dark web and the government wants to backdoor encryption services on the off chance they catch a terrorist.

I’m done.  I’m so fucking done I don’t have the words to describe how done I am with these contradictions.

We all need to raise our expectations and change our priorities.

Why are people not out in the street? (Because we all have to keep figuring out ways to put food on the table, no matter how dire the apocalypse on the doorstep).

Today’s Hello Humans comes to you exhausted and defeated.

Just more wasted words tossed carelessly into the ether.