So I ask the question...do we just need to harden up ? A rework of a piece I recently wrote for the opinion pages on the Brisbane Times. Read the comments! They are always my favourite part of the piece...
What is it?
It is the 'Australian' sense of humour and the way we constantly, unapologetically and indiscriminately make fun of anyone and everyone - particularly each other. In fact, 'make fun' of each other might be putting it lightly. Perhaps 'take down a peg' or 'bring down to size' is a better description.
Where do you find it?
Well, everywhere on this great expansive continent! Hot spots include groups of mates, families, politicians...you name it, someone's got something to say about it.
No doubt this is a gross generalisation on my part and I only have my personal experience to draw from, but a comment from an Irish colleague recently caused a bout of reflection.
"Jeaysus! All you Aussies just cut each other down so badly, and it's really quite merciless!" he exclaimed (in his strong Irish tones).
What we see as 'group banter' was to him, something a little different. Group banter and joking around was one thing, but here? Well apparently, we all really had to have 'quite a thick skin'!
Now, this may perhaps be a reflection of the places where I have worked and studied - engineering, motor racing and the oil and gas rigs aren't the most forgiving environments by any stretch. So perhaps this a biased reflection.
The broader question that it brings up however, is worth paying attention to. Where is the line between 'team banter' or 'taking the piss', and true bullying and harrassment?
This is clearly a sensitive question to your 'average aussie bloke' (whatever an 'average aussie' is). Even broach the topic and the conversation generally turns to:
"Mate, do you live near a Bunnings?" Errr...yes? "Well go there, buy a bag of cement and harden up!".
There is a sense out here that if you should be handle and brush off whatever comes your way, and be able to dish out just as much. There is also a strong pushback against people being 'way too politically correct' and having people control what can and can't be said.
"Mate, I've had enough of this political correctness rubbish. It's gone way too far. We can't say anything!" is a common sentiment expressed, particularly amongst the older folk.
There are two issues at play.
One is the general Australian disregard for authority and heirachy. Anyone who thinks they know more or who has an answer for everything is cut down, or straight out ostracised. This is manifest especially among groups of friends, where the playful banter is often at the expense of someone else. By and large, this seems to be the expected and accepted way of life - whether it is politically correct or not. In fact, if anything is said, it is usually put down to an individual being too sensitive.
Whether or not that needs to change, or whether changing that would be unAustralian is food for thought.
The second issue is the line between banter and bullying. Particularly in male dominated environments, the banter is seen as a part of asserting ones masculinity and to earn kudos (?) with the group. I see it happen often in front of me and find myself often thinking - at what point is this no longer funny?
It is no longer funny when the person can't handle it, when it defeats them personally, reduces them and their self esteem and when you feel it isn't right. Banter is one thing, but to have fun at the expense of others - no matter how funny you may find it - is still bullying.
My recommended read of the week: Waleed Aly on the weekend riots.
"It feels good. It feels powerful. This is why people yell pointlessly or punch walls when frustrated. It's not instrumental. It doesn't achieve anything directly. But it is catharsis. Outrage and aggression is an intoxicating prospect for the powerless."
How far would you go to protect your kids from bullying? I think I would be pretty hardcore…but not sure if I would want my kid to go under the knife.
We all have the potential to fall in love a thousand times in our lifetime. It’s easy. The first girl I ever loved was someone I knew in sixth grade. Her name was Missy; we talked about horses. The last girl I love will be someone I haven’t even met yet, probably. They all count. But there are certain people you love who do something else; they define how you classify what love is supposed to feel like. These are the most important people in your life, and you’ll meet maybe four or five of these people over the span of 80 years. But there’s still one more tier to all this; there is always one person you love who becomes that definition. It usually happens retrospectively, but it happens eventually. This is the person who unknowingly sets the template for what you will always love about other people, even if some of these loveable qualities are self-destructive and unreasonable. The person who defines your understanding of love is not inherently different than anyone else, and they’re often just the person you happen to meet the first time you really, really, want to love someone. But that person still wins. They win, and you lose. Because for the rest of your life, they will control how you feel about everyone else. Chuck Klosterman
This was a few days ago but sounds like a great idea! Giving out money to strangers can be quite a novel way to spend the day!
As we continually replace real life with ever shorter digital updates, what happens to the memories we build for ourselves and the people we serve? More and more, we don't remember what actually happened to us, but what we've encountered digitally.
I sometimes wonder how the minds of men like this work. It just makes me think of Flowers of Algernon to be honest >>> The Guy Who Solved Some Legendary Maths Problem
I don’t know what the right answer is, in terms of changing the sport to attract youngsters, but I do know that it is necessary to do something because despite what some people say the sport IS broken and does need fixing, even if it may not appear to be the case. The length of the races is always going to be a problem for the diehards because “it has always been like that”. Just like cricket was always five-day matches and white flannels until Kerry Packer came along and shook the tree a little.
Any sport needs to be open to new ideas, particularly one that sells itself on the idea of being fast-moving, cutting edge and innovative. One area where there is clearly a need for change is the sport’s involvement with the Internet.
I do secretly have an issue with retail therapy ;) The post asked some interesting questions about whether our possessions are actually broken promises?
My enthusiasm to acquire this new thing made me think: what are our possessions, really, but a bunch of promises? That dress promises to make us look stylish; that smartphone promises to keep us tech-savvy and connected; that cookbook promises to make us a culinary whiz; that moisturizer promises to take years off our face; that heirloom china promises to help us remember our grandmother.
Life is in all the gray...