Monday, August 1, 2011

Help Me Please

My apologies for dropping off the face of the cyber planet for a few weeks there.  I have been dreadfully ill and in no fit state to write.

I know that if I was a real writer I would have taken my head out of the toilet for a few minutes to blog, because writing is my life etc etc, but in all honesty I am sure none of you wanted to hear about how crook I was.  I am literally sick, of being sick.

But now I need your help.

I have returned to uni for second semester, a Feature Writing Course which I am thoroughly enjoying and my first assignment is due in a week.  I need to write an opinion piece, 500 words, of sufficiant quality that I could submit to one of the worldly publications such as Time, Vanity Fair or Rolling Stone (sure, no pressure).

Anyways, my problem is this: I don't have any opinions.  I'm still too sick to care.

I don't care about the carbon tax or the fact that an Aussie won a bike race.  I don't care that another Royal got married or that the US can't pay its debts (join the queue!). I am shocked and sad about the shooting in Norway but cannot see myself writing about it.

When I was younger I used to think I was quite a passionate person.  I cared about things, got worked up about causes.  I volunteered at the AIDS Council for a year and worked as a carer for a young person living with HIV.  I would bore my parents silly with lectures about various issues I felt strongly about, although I probably would not have understood what I was talking about.  Hell, at one stage I even invented my own religion.

But I seem to have lost this passion.  I am ignorant and apathetic about issues that I should be concerned about. I watch Masterchef rather than SBS.  I read the West Australian rather than Time.  (Actually I do read Time, but I tend to skip all the articles on world politics and economics.) My world has shrunk to a small bubble of kids and family and house and uni.  Paying the bills, doing the washing, cooking dinner. It seems ironic that as the world has become more connected, our lives somehow become more insular.

Forgive me, but I do not think I am alone.  Why are we so lazy with our opinions?  Why are we so uninformed?  Moreover, why do we want to be uninformed?  Who wants to change the channel when the World Vision ads come on TV?  Or use that as a good time to get up and make a cup of tea?

Is it because I have always had it relatively easy?  I never had to see my dad or brothers go away to war.  I have never had to break down gender or race barriers?  I have always had the right to vote, to an education, to drive a car.  As a female I was always told I could do anything.  I certainly never had to prove myself to anyone.  I have never had to sit through a bombing raid, or watch family members die from starvation, or a disease that could have been prevented with a simple vaccination.  I have never been forced out of my home, or raped by soldiers. I have always had food on my table (and in my fridge and more in my cupboard).  My children will never want for anything.

So why don't I care?  Why can't I think of something to write about?  Help me please.   


  1. I think you have the beginnings of a brilliant opinion piece right here. "Why the Apathy?"
    PS are you pregnant?!

  2. Ha ha I second Jo's question!
    But on your real question ... I think Jo's also right - write about apathy! I am probably a bit weird in that I don't watch Masterchef and have no idea about popular culture post-2001 (when I first left Australia) and only watch SBS and ABC and even that is seldom (once a fortnight perhaps?!). So i have lots of opinions. And I like to force them on people at inopportune moments. It is National Homeless Persons' Week though if that helps? (Big Issue anyone?). Sorry I will step off my soapbox. Good luck with the assignment! xx

  3. was wondering where you had gotten to!
    on the it's *blah blah* week idea of amanda's... it's also national breastfeeding week - soemthing which I'm sure as a mother you have an opinion on!
    I feel a bit like you sometimes too. I think it is lack of time which probably comes down to laziness too. If it were important to me to know more I would make the effort to do so! i do however like to know what is happening in the world and read into topics which interest me, somewhat obsessively at times.
    good luck with your assignment!

  4. Shan, I have been thinking about this all day and I bet you do have plenty of things that you are passionate and opinionated (in a good way!) about, just they didn't spring to mind in the way your assignment was worded. Like, maybe you are really fussy about giving your kids healthy foods or you make them play outdoors or you care about gay rights (SMAGS headlines this week!) or ... well the list I had in my head when I was washing up was much longer but some of them must have gone down the drain with the dirty water. Anyway do let us know what topic you choose (and I will stop my unhelpful suggestions then). xx

  5. You mention how connected the world has become and interconnectivity and apathy are undeniably linked. The more causes we are exposed to, the more opinions we are saturated with essentially equates to an increased cognitive load which, ironically enough, leads to superficial processing and a disengagement with the very issues we are expected to be passionate about.

    I would argue that you have found the perfect opinion piece. With so many causes (every day it is a new coloured wrist band or ribbon or pin or something!) and so much - too much! - information constantly bombarding us we have lost the ability to be selective and, hence, are missing the opportunity to critically analyse and debate meaningful topics.

    Apathy: The correlation between popular causes and disinterest.

  6. Shannon, with only a little massaging, you could submit this post as your opinion piece. It has everything you need for an opinion piece - it's passionate, it expresses an opinion and it draws on personal anecdotes. Most importantly, it really engaged me as a reader. Good luck with your assignment and with this semester.


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