Reading the 'news'.
I hate the media.
Not so much journalists because I have many who are dear friends, relatives, siblings, cousins, parents, grandparents (and employers!)
I'm talking about the thing we now call the "meeja" - the ugly writhing ball of infotainment, give-the-people-what-they-want, play to the lowest, meanest, most cynically nostalgic, jejune, insipid impulses of the audience and reader - that it's mutated into.
I can read a major news site from top to bottom and literally feel sick - not just because the endless horseshit that now passes for a "story" seems to be what people want to read, but that us - journalists and editors and news professionals, seem powerless or so lacking in imagination as to provide an engaging alternative.
I hate that some muppet with a Twitter account can become front page news for saying crap journos say every minute of the day in newsrooms, but we'll then self-righteously crusade for public apologies thinner than the stock our product is printed on.
I hate seeing drug dealers and gangsters turned into celebs in our social pages and that being born rich in this country somehow equates to being newsworthy.
I hate that photographers stalk teenage actors or brain-dead drunk drivers outside courthouses but we never see a camera crew parked outside the mansions of the multitudinous criminal corporate and political elite "because they deserve a private life".
I hate the rampant racism in our news coverage and we deny it's even there. I hate the parochialism of our "meeja" and that we do so little to educate people about the geopolitical realities that are shaping the world we live in.
I hate the lies that go unchallenged. I hate that "balanced coverage" means quoting some halfwit that "vaccination really does cause autism" or that "climate change isn't happening" despite 97 per cent of scientists agreeing it is.
I hate how some fame-whore bottom-feeder acting like an absolute dickhead on a reality TV show is deemed "news" the next day on breakfast TV and we're then given a 60-paragraph recap of their antics on a news website.
I hate the faux-feminism trotted out by women's mags after some tragic girl is raped in a third-world country (because we care so much about our black and brown and Asian sisters), then turn the page to find 87 skinny white chicks telling multicultural Australia this is how you should look.
I hate that if I click on a video of a story of some poor child being brutalised because of their gender, sexuality or religion, I first have to sit though a 15 second ad by some multinational clown factory without one board member of the brutalised child's gender, sexuality or nationality - yet they can change my life for the better with their product.
I hate that the "meeja" seems to revel in assuring us how bad and miserable a place Australia is, when we've got it better than any other country in the world. I hate, hate, hate that we actually believe it.
I also hate some "meeja" brands more than others, even though I know the people who power those brands, shake their hands, drink with them at the pub, have grown up with them and understand the pressures they operate under.
And I don't hate alone.
I speak to people all the time who'll say how much they despise the "Murdoch Media" or "what they've done to Fairfax" or the "state of TV news".
I know blokes who couldn't name the leader of the state opposition who tell me they "hate" the sensationalism so many stories are treated with, the voyeurism dressed up as public interest whenever someone good-looking and white is killed, or a natural disaster (in Australia) delivers ratings manna from heaven.
I know mothers who hate being treated like milk trucks with stretch marks because they've had a kid - so now they're a "new demographic" who can't read a section unless it's filigreed with love hearts and rubber duckies and scare stories about kids who've choked on peanuts.
These are people who say things like "that's why I don't read the paper any more" or "I don't watch the news, it's too negative".
Most of all, I hate that the "meeja" has now become about "getting something" from the consumer - whether that's "engagement", their "buying habits", "demographics" or "aspirations" instead of giving them value: a good story, well told.
I earn my living in the "meeja" and too many days it leaves me angry, disillusioned and condescended to. So how do you reckon the general public feel?
I'll take a guess and quote a piece of graffiti that's being doing the rounds of the internet of late.
"NEWS: RICH PEOPLE PAYING RICH PEOPLE TO TELL MIDDLE-CLASS PEOPLE TO BLAME POOR PEOPLE."
I love that because it's direct truth - something I see less and less of in my industry.