Sitting on the lounge cushions strewn around me, the sun is shining outside and the wind is blowing with a medium ferocity so the leaves seem to be coaxing me outside with fervour. Pan back in, there is a laptop on my lap (funny about that) with six tabs open (the smallest number ever recorded). My iPhone is resting next to me and there is a soppy Netflix movie the TV just because I needed that today… I have no digital TV channels connected to my TV, it’s usually occupied with ‘Shaun the Sheep’ or ‘Nijago’ as my youngest daughter presses repeat for the 50th time that day.
A single mother, a full time university student, I don’t go out of my way to engage with media BUT in 2016 it follows me. Like a stalker it comes to drop the kids off to school, drives to uni with me, sits through the lectures, comes to gymnastics, to the swimming lessons finishing by following me home and climbing into my bed.
Monday night for example, I was washing up and used the ABC iview app on my phone to catch live, the end of Q and A. Apparently is my duty as a journalist in Australia to watch the show that sets the news agenda for this week. Jumping between there and Twitter, I noticed that #Fourcorners had run a story that was running hot with controversy. Juvenile indigenous detainees had been tear gassed and there was video footage of it. Facebook and Twitter were instantly running hot with judgement and disgust. As someone who has worked in DOCS in the Indigenous department, had friends who have worked in Arnhem land with the communities there and being a person of a first nation myself, none of this media frenzy shocked me or presented something that I didn’t know was happening, but obviously from the now four-day-later feed, the shock for some is real.
This news story from the ABC’s Four Corners aired on Monday night. As the program was airing live discussion was going on on Twitter, Facebook and who knows how many other online platforms. The newspapers joined in the discussion and media footage and cuttings made their way to the minister’s desks and onto the iPads and smart phones of millions around the world. And from where I sit in South-West Sydney in my family home in suburbia, with unwashed dishes in the sink and ripped up birthday wrapping still adorning the entrance way, I have been unintentionally immersed in a news story from the ABC that aired two nights ago. I have never seen the story and yet have been engaged in the conversation as online-activists juxtapose pictures of chain-ganged South-Sea Islanders with Indigenous teenagers locked in a cell, drawing their own associations and changing the meaning of the original broadcast to reflect their own opinions and experiences.
Groundhog day generally my life:
- Yell at kids to get dressed
- Take a shower
- Yell at kids to get dressed
- Get dressed (while yelling at kids to get dressed)
- Make coffee
- Collect half-dressed children and deposit them in the car
- Drive to school
- I’m sure you can see a trend here
In all my mundane day(s) I don’t watch the news, I don’t buy a newspaper, I don’t do much small talk with people and yet, current affairs, news, opinions, advertising and some really fantastic information and music seem to seep through the crevices into my life through my phone, email, podcasts and computer. So even whilst washing dishes at 10 o’clock at night two tear gassed indigenous youths can still occupy the space in my not yet clean kitchen.