Geoff’s Lemon CommentPosted: May 26, 2012
I hate it when people I respect say something that makes me question why I respect them. Case in point: Geoff Lemon. Hilarious superstar of the blogosphere and an incredibly impressive human being all round. I often cried with laughter reading Geoff’s posts on his blog, Heathen Scripture. Some of my favourites are Australiar and the f*cking idiot dilemma and As a poet, Rinehart makes a great billionaire.
A couple of months ago I noticed that Geoff’s posts weren’t as regular as they had been and his Tweets were few and far between. He recently posted this explanation as to why he hasn’t been updating Heathen Scripture as often.
As he explained, he was spending his time on other activities, such as editing a journal, sports writing and sports commentary. I can relate to this situation. My blog is often neglected when I have a lot of other things going on in my life. A demanding full time job, renovating a house, writing books, playing hockey, watching footy, hanging out with friends and family. I don’t know how I find time to sleep!
But the part of Geoff’s explanation that really grated on me and led to the slight reduction of my aforementioned respect, was this statement:
People who get immersed in politics can start to take that shit way too seriously in a very short time. They take themselves way too seriously into the bargain. They treat five hours of Twitter commentary like an event of substance. From where my father is currently working in the States, he reminded me the other day that no-one there has ever heard of Tony Abbott. That’s worth bearing in mind. It’s also good to remember that not every debate demands your personal contribution, and not every idea you have needs to be seen through. Whether it’s the self-importance brought on by having any kind of audience, or the depression induced by realising what a spectacular clusterfuck our national situation is, politics can eat you away from the inside like a hydrofluoric enema.
It took me a few days to let this statement settle, before I realised just why it annoyed me so much. No doubt it hurt a bit since I could count myself as someone who does take politics seriously and I do enjoy commenting on it on Twitter. I also spend many conversations in the offline world analysing politics with family and friends. But I don’t think the reason I take politics seriously is the reason that Geoff implies. It’s not a hobby. It’s not something I do because I don’t have anything else in my life. As I said, there is a lot going on in my world and yet politics still squeezes itself in the gaps.
Geoff’s statement sounds to me like he treats an interest in politics like an interest in sport, and that he’s overdosed and is sick of it. I too understand what it is like to have a fanatical interest in sport. My family and I are devoted supporters of the Port Adelaide Football Club, and when the club isn’t going so well (like now) it definitely affects our wellbeing during the winter months. But I don’t think that losing a football game is the same as losing an election. My family has talked about this idea a lot. Coincidentally, Port Adelaide won the grand final in 2004, the same year that Mark Latham lost the election to John Howard. In 2007, Port was humiliatingly defeated in the Grand Final (by Geoff Lemon’s team Geelong!) but our misery was short lived as we soon had an election win to celebrate after Kevin Rudd beat John Howard.
The comment that no one in America has heard of Tony Abbott isn’t very helpful. When your team loses a football game, it’s a shit feeling. But it doesn’t affect your life in the way Tony Abbott winning an election would affect me, and millions of other Australians.
The reason I couldn’t let Geoff’s comment slide was that it occurred to me that most main stream political commentators share Geoff’s flippancy when they speak of the foregone conclusion that Gillard will lose the next election. (Which by the way, I don’t believe is a foregone conclusion.) They say ‘Abbott will repeal the carbon tax’. They say ‘Abbott will get rid of the NBN’. They say ‘Abbott will cut spending on government services such as health and education’. And that’s all they say, as if they’re reporting that Port Adelaide just lost by 10 goals, now go home and get over it. They never go on to say how damaging his actions would be to this country. This damage fills me with fear and dread. I worry about what the country will be like under an Abbott government. I believe taking action on Climate Change is more important than bitching about what Gillard said before the election and what the Greens wanted her to do once the minority government formed. So that is why I care about politics more than I care about sport. Politics is not a sport. And talking about it on Twitter is a worthwhile experience. Sharing ides and information with likeminded people is an incredibly important part of our democratic society. Twitter and independent blogs have become even more important in a media environment where the main stream press choose to turn a blind eye to newsworthy accounts of what this country would actually be like if Abbott wins the next election.