Bernard Keane is Crikey’s political editor and like most experienced political journalists he constantly reports on the appalling shenanigans of the federal government; whether it be the lies, the corruption, the misogyny or just the plain stupidity1.
A couple of weeks ago, he posted a couple of tweets: “I always thought in my job the problem would be I’d run out of things to write about. But the main problem is the psychological toll of dealing with an incessant tide of stupidity, lies and bullshit. It grinds you down, slowly but surely. Makes you miserable, angry and cynical”.
“Often these days I feel like I’m in a version of the zombie apocalypse, but instead it’s the bullshitter apocalypse. And my bunker is falling apart and I’m out of ammo and I’m about to be overrun.”2
Over 500 people replied to this, all of whom I saw were in support. One was Dave Milner (from The Shot), who replied: “Yesssss. It hurts needing to pay attention to it all, I don’t think I’d do it voluntarily anymore.”3
A person who has the handle ‘Just some guy called Alan’ responded to both of these with:
“To both of you: your eloquent articulation of rage at this miasma is strangely comforting, perhaps because you are channelling the feelings of many of us and making us feel seen, which in turn encourages us to struggle on against it, knowing we are not alone. Thanks”4
I write this blog voluntarily because the criminality of the federal government appals me and the stenography, rather than journalism, by so many in the media allows the government to mostly get away with it. It is people like Keane, Milner, Tingle, Murphy, Gittins, Savva and others who are up to the task of holding these bastards to account. So many others seem either incapable or are complicit in the government’s criminality.
I suspect that if I had to do what Keane and Milner and others do as their job, I’d become frayed around the edges very quickly. Fortunately, being driven by disgust but not having my livelihood dependent on it, all I need to do to clean away this grime of disgust, is spend 2-3 hours a day on my ‘hobby’ (palaeontological research). It is a subject that requires so much intense staring at photographs of specimens, reading others’ published work and writing down my observations and reasoning, that one becomes completely immersed in it, with no room for anything else. As a consequence, the constant feeling of disgust at modern politics completely dissipates, if only for a few hours.
I discovered the value of a hobby when I first started my ‘dream job’, ironically in palaeontology. I was so concerned with not buggering this job up that I was working as much as 10-12 hours a day. After doing this for about 18 months, I developed an extremely painful duodenal ulcer. When reading up about this ailment, I discovered it had a death rate. This scared the bejesus out of me, so I swore off driving myself into the ground and took up a hobby. That was 37 years ago and I’m still kicking. Having time out is important.