An article from the archives today. I wrote this piece almost two years ago for Trespass Magazine. I can safely report that not a lot has changed.
There is nothing I dislike more than a wanker. Excuse the crass language, straight up and in the first sentence, but I just can’t think of another term to so accurately and honestly describe one. You see, lately, I just can’t seem to escape them. Wankers, that is. Everywhere I turn there is one waiting, ready to attack or approach me with their wanky-ness. And, the sad part is, these people all share one common problem: they think they are better than everyone else.
When you live in a city like Melbourne – one alive and rich with culture, arts, sport, entertainment and a myriad of other wonderful things – it’s inevitable that you will meet a mixture of people. Lovely, down-to-earth, witty, talented, inspiring people. People that are a pleasure to know. Then, there are the wanker people. People who function with a cooler-than-thou attitude.
I’ve reached breaking point.
Maybe I’m getting older, maybe I’m becoming more cynical or maybe I’m just noticing it more, but it seems the more I try to find good people, the less of them there are to be found.
The other day I met with an incredibly intelligent and inspiring entrepreneur. In our discussion, we touched on the idea of ‘cultural and intellectual superiority’. The idea that one person – say, a designer in Melbourne – feels they are actually above many other people that live in Melbourne, even their own kind of ‘designer people’. That their place of residence, career title, choice of reading material or brand of footwear actually places them at a level higher than someone else. The issue is one that is alive and well all over the world. My problem is that it has seeped into my world, and I don’t like it.
The idea that shopping at a certain store, or listening to a certain kind of music, results in you being cooler than another person is a terribly arrogant one. You’re no better, smarter or more cultured than another person for reading a certain book, or drinking coffee from a certain café. The assumption that, to qualify as hip, you need to buy into a certain culture and participate in its activities is incredibly limiting and extremely draining. How boring if we were all to be the same.
At the heart of the entire ‘wanker’ problem is judgement. Cultural and social judgement. The notion that you can’t buy Who Magazine and Dumbo Feather at the same time, because really, how can celebrity gossip and serious writing mix? I’m here to tell you that it can. That OK! Magazine is perfectly appropriate to read, and enjoy, and that you can still be interested in ‘serious’ journalism as well. And, in the same vain, listening to Lady Gaga, or any sort of pop music, does not make you musically defunct. That it’s possible to love Mars Volta and John Mayer and The Presets and Cut Copy all at the same time. When you shut out whole groups of culture – like pop and mainstream – you also shut out a great deal about what you can possibly learn.
The most intelligent and cool people I know are those that spread their interests far and wide. Funnily enough, they are often the people who use the smallest amounts of judgement. They are the people who enjoy Batman Begins as much as Hairspray as much as Inception. They are the people who succeed, in whatever field they are in, the quickest. And they happen to do it with a great deal of style.
I’ve always laughed, quite openly, at people who think they are incredibly cool or creative or in the know. Here’s what: I’m cool, creative and very in the know but I don’t wear it like a banner. Usually the honest types don’t. It’s the try-hards that parade about, looking silly. The people who think they are cool.
I work in an industry that is seen as political, ruthless, and filled with superficiality and judgement. I’m yet to discover any of that. On the contrary, I find independent media, and the circles we associate with, to be like a quaint, small community: everyone knows everyone else and everyone supports each other. Regardless of the publication you work for, you’re always at the same events, you’re always bumping into each other and you become, as unbelievable as it may sound, the best of friends. Each other’s loudest cheerleaders. The real truth is that, title of the magazine aside, we’re all in it together.
I’ve realised it is the world that is actually political, ruthless and filled with superficiality and judgement. And, despite all the advances in technology and social networking, we’re very far from being any sort of quaint, small community. Some days, it seems that every wanker out there is just waiting for you to trip up, to make a small mistake, so they can quickly correct you, and then tramp on you. I’m yet to discover any wanker that has actually done something good for the world, or another person. And until I do, there’ll be nothing I dislike more than one.