I don’t know arseholes but I know what I like…

Dear All,

I have ranted about the Tony Abbott page on facebook and how it constantly appears in my newsfeed telling me that the same five friends liked it “a few seconds ago” and I am pretty sure I indicated that this is misleading and highly suspect.

However, imagine my surprise today when a mate sent a screen capture of my newsfeed with Tony Abbott’s page at the top saying “David Callan likes Tony Abbott”. My friend’s post was tagged “Am I really seeing this?!”.

I thought it was a joke. I thought someone may have Photoshopped it to get a rise out of me, which is a lot of effort to go to really, but some people are dedicated to the art of practical humour.

But lo and behold, it was true: David Callan likes Tony Abbott. When I checked my Likes page it turns out that I did in fact “like” Tony Abbott. Just so you know, I’ve never visited the page and I think from previous scratchings my political leanings are reasonably clear. However, when I went to unlike it, I couldn’t. It just stayed as it was, with me liking someone I have very little respect or time for. I have sent the request to facebook to unlike it and have reported the page as “spam or scam”. Will it make any difference? We shall see but somehow I rather doubt it.

Admittedly, this is a first world problem of minuscule proportions. However it does highlight the sorry state of political discourse in this country and the control not only mainstream but also social media has in the current political debate.

Essentially, my meager on-line presence has been dragooned into supporting, or at least approving of someone I am not in the least bit inclined to. And that pisses me off for the simple reason that my political opinion is MINE: to express, to bombast, to post, blog and tweet and generally aggravate people who just wish I would shut up. It has been formed by influences throughout my life but it is one of the few things I can truly call my own. It is precious. It is a tiny voice but it is mine none-the-less and I am in high dudgeon at its being usurped.

So, for the record:

I am a pragmatic social democrat with a leaning towards Keynesian economics and great skepticism about the Freidman model.

I believe we should pay for Carbon pollution and support green energy. If simply for the reason that fossil fuels are finite.

I think global warming is real and must be addressed by this generation or we will have little or nothing to pass on to those who come after us. I am of the firm opinion that those most opposed to reversing the effects of climate change are those that stand to lose the most financially.

I think the asylum seeker issue will only be, at best, assuaged with regional solutions and can only be solved with global action. Three word slogans won’t make a scrap of difference and anyone who keeps spouting them is an A-grade idiot. These are people who have endured incredible trauma and hardship in their homelands and are desperate to get to a place that promises much in the way of freedom and opportunity. To demonise  them and then attempt to portray Australia as an even worse destination than they one they escaped from is as heartless and cruel as the despotic regime and war-torn hellholes they are fleeing. Hardline is hard-hearted and we stand to lose much of our beloved national identity if we pursue this path.

I’m all for mining as long as it is clean, reasonable, not rapacious, does not cancel the rights of landowners and the profits from the resources that belong to the nation are shared with the nation.

I am for paid parental leave that is equitable for all and doesn’t advantage those already advantaged with privileged lives.

I am for educating all our children as best we can because when I’m old and in my dotage I don’t want the country being run by idiots… well, being run by even bigger idiots than we have now and are faced with in the near future.

I believe in marriage equality. It is a social not a religious  contract and anyone who thinks that two boys or two girls marrying will in some way ruin the “institution of marriage” needs to grow up.

I am for building infrastructure that works and has longevity. I do not believe that cheaper and quicker is better because you generally wind up with something that is so substandard that it is obsolete before it comes on line. Yes, I’m talking about broadband. And yes, I firmly believe that the only reason Rupert Murdoch and News Ltd are so trenchantly opposed to a Labor government is because of the financial hit Fox would take if we had access to internet TV.

I am for engaging the electorate with a clear and considered vision and anyone who thinks truly engaging the electorate is selfies with school kids and trite platitudes and petty catchphrases is a narcissistic twerp. Equally, anyone who says “Trust me” but doesn’t trust us enough to tell us how and what he intends is just the political equivalent of a used car salesman trying to convince me that the rusty Volkswagen Passat in the back corner of the yard is an absolute deal.

I am for elections that are about political parties presenting their agendas for running the country, including how they intend to do it and how they intend to pay for it. To treat the democratic process as a shell game of empty promises or fair ground for unrelenting character assassination diminishes the process and shows a disturbing lack of respect for the people you are asking to vote for you.

I think Julia Gillard was one of the most visionary leaders this country has had in decades, was the victim of an orchestrated smear campaign from within and without her party, and will be regarded by history as one of the greats.

I don’t like Tony Abbott. He is an empty suit cut from the cloth of political opportunism and unconscionable hypocrisy.

I don’t like Kevin Rudd. He is a bloated school uniform that is dragging his party and the body politic into the mire just to satisfy his own egomaniacal whims.

I loathe party politics. The saddest day in recent Australian politics was the day Tony Windsor left Parliament. He was a man of considerable savvy and great integrity and I believe that anyone interested in entering politics would do well to follow his example.

And I am seriously concerned at the state of political discourse and our right to express it in this country.

There. My political hat is in the ring, for good or for ill.

One week to go, people… one week to go.

“Like” if you hate people who ask you to “Like” …

Dear Facebook friends,

Please stop asking me to “share” or “like” things that you think are important. Don’t get me wrong. I think that whatever cause you have adopted is important. I just don’t think that appealing to my overburdened sense of guilt is the way to get me enthused by it.

Yes, I have a mother, I have a wife, my Father’s discipline while seemingly unfair at the time helped shape the person I am today, I know a nurse, I think my uncle is great, I hope the people I know that are fighting cancer don’t die of it, I think trees are a good idea, I am grateful for the teachers I had and those that teach my children now, I appreciate that there are people less or more fortunate than me and I accept that my life would be immeasurably poorer if I was an only child and that my brothers, while terribly annoying, are pretty good to have around. I even like my sisters-in-law who, while demonstrably loopy, are pretty cool ladies. Christ! They have to be to put up with a tool like me as their sister’s husband!
But sticking a notice on facebook for us to “like” doesn’t solve the problems of world hunger, wage inequity or environmental or societal degradation. It is merely a feel-good gesture to assuage our own guilt at not having gotten off our arses and taken steps to make the world a better place. This is emotional blackmail, not a meaningful undertaking.

Why not try this …

If you were to post:
“If your parents loved you unconditionally and worked their arses off to give a better life, don’t “like” this post. Call them and say thanks and, when you next have the opportunity, take them to dinner”; I would do it. Of course, I could “like” it in the hopes that my parents would see it and know that I am a loving and appreciative son, but my father loathes Facebook and while my mother is my Facebook friend, she assiduously avoids looking at anything I post because she finds it “a little too politcally diatribey” for her taste. Very shrewd woman my Mum. And for those very reasons, I am taking them to dinner when they’re next in Sydney.

If you were to post a meme with a picture of a flower and the words:
“Let’s all agree that nurses have a shit time of it. Put yourself in their shoes: How would you like to come home covered in sick people’s bodily-fluids?
You wouldn’t. So do something about helping them help you by being polite to them. They get it, you’re sick … but EVERYONE they spend their day with is sick so stop being an arsehole about it and remember your manners.
And while your at it ring your local member and ask them what they’re doing about wage disparity in the healthcare industry”, I am quite certain that I would take it into consideration. Would I ring Malcolm Turnbull? Probably not because he is well aware of my existence and as such screens my calls (and Tanya Plibersek would just put on that “What-now?” tone she has perfected). But at least I wouldn’t bitch at the poor, over-worked, underpaid nurse that has to prep me for my colonoscopy. Come to think of it, I wouldn’t complain to that nurse at all because she’s holding all the Aces.

I would also wonder what the fuck the flower means.

If you were to post:
“Your child is an arsehole because of YOU … not his or her teacher so shut the Hell up and help the kid with their homework for a change”; I would most likely read my son’s project on the Storming of the Beaches of Normandy and show him why Wikipedia is so unreliable as a single source … in fact, I did just that and I learned some things I didn’t know … mainly that my nine-year-old is a master manipulator who somehow managed to get me to write his assignment.

What I am trying to say in my indisputably long-winded way is that getting me to “like” or “share” your cause does very little if nothing to advance it. Sure, you get to count the likes and shares which makes you feel good, but does it solve the problem? Hardly!

“Like” is the mouse-click equivalent of “I know … but what can I do?”

Facebook has shown itself to be a powerful tool for uniting and motivating groups of people but “liking” and “sharing” just doesn’t cut it. During the Arab Spring, if protesters had posted:
“Like if you think Hosni Mubarrak is an unconscionable bastard”; the unconscionable bastard would still be in power. Instead they posted: “5am. Tahrir Square. That fat SOB won’t know what hit him! ROFLMAO ;)” and completely changed their country.

So the next time you want to effect change, I mean real change, don’t ask me to “like” or “share”, tell me to get off my lazy arse and make a difference.

It is attitudes and not platitudes that bring about change.

Do not like or share if you agree. Instead call your favourite charity and pledge ten bucks.

David Callan

13th May 2013