Why are we so cranky nowadays?

Nov 13, 2023
Source: Getty Images,

If Covid-19 taught us anything, it taught us how to be publicly angry.

Our State and Federal Governments relentlessly pushed us around during Covid, constantly telling us what we could and couldn’t do, and pretty much making life difficult for everyone.

The rest of the world describes what happened here with lockdowns and compulsory vaccines as “draconian’’. Our politicians will proudly say that they did it all because they were entrusted with keeping us safe. I’m not here to argue where the truth lies. But what I am sure about, is that Australia – and Australians – have forever changed because of COVID – and now Sky News.

Before COVID we were a fairly compliant bunch. We lived generation to generation adopting the “she’ll be right” attitude. As a nation, we tended not to rally against political decisions, or be outraged by atrocities that were being perpetrated in faraway countries. We pretty much shrugged our collective shoulders and went with the flow. Not anymore.

We are now feisty. We are marching in the streets. We are demanding change. And we are losing all trust and respect for anyone in authority. Everyone is fair game. What is surprising to me, is that it’s not the young folk who are rebelling, it’s people who are well and truly 60 plus. During COVID we bitterly split between anti-vaxxers and those that got as many vaccine shots as they possibly could. Governments sacked essential workers who weren’t vaccinated. Parents stopped their children from playing with unvaccinated kids. Both sides hurled caustic abuse at each other, all the time. There was a line in the sand. You had to be on one side or the other. There was NO common ground.

The Voice is another issue that completely divided us. You had to be on one side or the other. Again, there seemed to be NO common ground. I visited my daughters in Kiama, an affluent town about 90 minutes south of Sydney. At least one house in every street, sometimes more, had banners proclaiming that the residents were voting YES. In Runaway Bay in Queensland near where I live, people had bumper stickers that stated: “I’m voting NO, and stop welcoming me to my own country”. The stickers also had a few words that started with F, but I’ve left them out of this story. We literally shouted abuse at anyone who had a view that was different from ours.

Now we are marching in the streets about what’s happening in the Middle East. We didn’t march in the streets protesting against the Croatian War of Independence that lasted from 1991 to 1995. We didn’t howl publicly about the atrocities committed by Robert Mugabe during his reign of terror in Zimbabwe from 1980 to 2017. And we didn’t flood the streets in protest following the September 11 attacks in 2001. We sat fairly quietly watching from our little island without uttering too much at all.

So why now are we out in the streets lighting flares, screaming abuse, and causing chaos. It’s because we have changed. The situation between Israel and Palestine is horrendous. People are being slaughtered on both sides. But for some reason, the world has divided into pro-Israel and anti-Israel groups. Both sides have committed heinous acts. We in Australia should NOT have to choose a side. But again, there’s NO common ground. There’s only conflict. Ironically, as our national anger has risen, so too has our consumption of Sky News.

Sky News’s reach has grown by 21.5 percent in the past 24 months. About 11.1 million of us engage with Sky News monthly. Sky News does a great job presenting the news its audience wants, while seamlessly taking a right- wing position. They don’t just inform you as to what’s happening, they tell you why it is either good for you, or bad for you.

My mother-in-law is an avid Sky News watcher. We share a house with her, so we sit down for dinner together every night. She’s 85 this month. Up until three years ago, when she became a Sky News watcher, she was the most pleasant and placid person that you could ever meet. Now she’s a raving activist, angry about what’s happening in her neighbourhood, state, country and around the world. She is demanding to change banks because ANZ no longer accepts cash deposits. It doesn’t even matter to her that she doesn’t have any cash to deposit and that the world is hurtling toward becoming cashless.

She, like so many others, wants to lock up all teenagers who break the law. No chances. Just lock them up and throw away the key. I can hear Sky News on downstairs for probably four-or-five hours every day. She refers to Andrew Bolt as Andrew, but her favourite is Paul. That’s Paul Murray. She, like so many others, was trapped in the UK during COVID and couldn’t get home. An Australian citizen, she was forced to wait nine months to get back to Australia because of the travel restrictions put in place by State and Federal Governments.

It angered her then. It still angers her today. She had to pay UK accommodation costs when she had an empty house available to live in in Australia. She had to buy a business-class flight to get back home because that was the only way you could be guaranteed to get on a plane. Then, she had to pay for Quarantine accommodation.

Covid changed her, and now Sky News fans the flames of her discontent against government and community leaders. Sky News does an incredible job of tapping into a particular segment of the news market and reflecting the opinions of that market back to itself.

A recent study showed that 74 percent of Sky News consumers believed the channel covered issues that were relevant to the community. According to the survey, Baby Boomers believe that our current Cost of Living crisis is the most important news issue, followed by issues around health and the hospital system. I sense that Australia, especially older Australians, no longer feel like this is the Lucky Country.

There’s a negative sentiment in the air. And it’s been growing stronger every day.

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