By Lauren Stanley:
The vitriol and hypocrisy spewed by those that I know to be essentially good people never ceases to amaze me. Let’s be honest, this is not a new trend; you give people a platform to speak their mind and they will. Whether you want to hear it or they apply a filter to it, is a complete other kettle of fish. More and more frequently I find myself opening my facebook feed to find several ‘‘friends’’ have mindlessly shared their xenophobia or hypocrisy with their online world. One picture was something military and it read ‘‘before we pay for any new people, how about we help the homeless returned soldiers’’. Another was a picture of a dry landscape with the words ‘‘let’s support the farmers before ‘refugees’ with mobile phones’’, and the countless status outcries against the Yulin dog eating festival. My tolerance level for this ‘‘clicktavism’’ – which is basically just smoke-screened racism – is fading with great velocity and for several reasons:
Firstly (based on my own very quantitative analysis), people participate in approximately zero critical analysis of what they are sharing. It’s all ‘‘yeah! I think that too!’’ with no consideration as to what it makes them look like and/or what sort of rubbish they’re actually perpetuating. Let me address my example of the dog eating festival before you rip this to pieces proclaiming that I’m a heartless monster. Not a single person who shared their outrage at that festival (on my feed) was a vegetarian or vegan. That makes them, and anyone reading this who did the same thing, a giant hypocrite. Why? Because you do the exact same thing every day, my friends. Just because you’re culturally socialised to see dogs as pets and not food, does not make eating cows, pigs, and/or sheep any different. So when you share that, but still consume animals, then pretty much all you’re saying is ‘‘Your culture does gross things. Look how much more righteous and morally correct mine is’’ .
The first two examples run along the same line. You feel empathy for returned soldiers who struggle with homelessness because of the horrors of war? Or you feel the plight of farmers who have struggled with decades of drought? That’s a lovely sentiment. However, in these cases, that sentiment is where it stops and precisely where this argument becomes the exact same mind-numbing ‘‘I-don’t-agree-with-gay-marriage-so-I’m-going-to-stop-you-from-doing-it-even-though-it-will-affect-my-life-in-absolutely-no-way’’ debate. By all means advocate for the awareness of these causes from the safety of your iPhone screen; they all need the exposure. But that’s not what you’re really sharing, right? Because the reality is that you have no idea what proportion of the federal budget gets assigned to international aid, and you actually don’t care that much about the vets with PTSD or the struggling farmers, because if you did, you would do something about it. What you’re really sharing is ‘‘I don’t care that there are people in need. I don’t want to share my toys with the kids in the sandpit who aren’t white’’. It’s those refugees that you’re spreading mindless hate about and there’s a good chance they’ve experienced something very similar to those returned soldiers.
Basically, many Australians have absolutely no insight into the lived experiences of refugees. Now I would definitely count myself within this bracket of ignorance as the entire depth of my understanding has been through personal research, reading articles and volunteer work. I don’t expect anyone here to really understand it because we live in a very lucky country of peace and prosperity. But I also don’t expect this mindless and callous attitude that is just a thin veil for racism. I ask you as people who live in this country, what is it that makes you think it is okay to not help everyone we can, and not just those who live here? The only reason you are here, and others ‘there’, is because you had the incredibly lucky fortune (and luck is all it was), to be born here, and not a place of conflict.
Lauren Stanley, Bachelor of Social Work, Parramatta Campus