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Apathy. A Symptom Or Part Of The Problem?

Currently my cousin is visiting. 19 and intense. Back from a year in the middle east. Over breakfast we discussed him being in a relationship. I asked him if he was enjoying being a boyfriend. We discussed this for awhile. Then he said that he doesn't enjoy going to clubs, chasing girls, getting drunk and participating in the prescribed activities of a 19 year old Australian male. I asked if his experience in the middle east had anything to do with this. He agreed this was a significant part of the problem. My cousin's predicament aside, the difference between places such as the middle east and Australia is marked. Largely, I would say that apathy is a significant player in the difference; Whether you choose to classify it as a symptom or rather as part of the problem.
The middle east is akin to a laboratory. Constantly, the layers of one's personality are torn a way. Any mask that you may be trying on or hiding behind are quickly dispensed with. This is painful in the extreme. Each conversation, no matter how seemingly banal and no matter if its with an acquaintance or stranger is marked by probing in depth discussion that demands you have a considered opinion. This is tiring. To survive the middle east, I would hazard to suggest that one leaves the country to allow yourself time to process and regroup, mature and compound on the experience.
But I digress. My point being is that apathy has no considered place nor role in a society that is constantly concerned with its own survival. Australia has few of these concerns. It is an Island. Geographically and I would suggest, emotionally removed from the rest of the world. It rarely takes into consideration it's neighbours, nor the world, except for how it pertains to itself. The geographical space, I theorise, has also translated into a social space. Australians appear lonelier, more isolated, more prone to suicide, depression and stress related illness (not going to quote the data as this isn't the forum - but there is plenty to support this argument). Our topics of conversation oscillate between sport, work and reality television. (I say this, though I have had few conversations revolving around the exploits of reality tv). An inordinate amount of time is spent discussing personal relationships. My first conversation in a long time that has a more philosophical bent has been with my 19 year old cousin. Maybe this says more about the people I associate with. We do tend to extrapolate out from our own social circle. But I work with many different cultures and economic strata's and the conversation is more or less the same. At times there are rants about what is 'wrong' with our society, but they are rants. Instead of meaningful discussion it is more a lesson in how much the rant-ee 'knows'. Often a peculiar side by side ranting occurs between two people certainly barely listening to the other. Less a conversation then, rather a sociable diatribe. Invective aside (cathartic, but hardly productive), the pervading outcome of these mock conversations is apathy characterised by blame. Usually finished with " its the government's/parent's/societies fault, and really what can you do about it except vote them out / buy a baseball bat / go buy a latte".
Its been proven on countless occasions that the power of a few can muster great change. I'm not setting out to particularly pick on Australia, I just happen to live here and hence i Write about what I personally can see. I see apathy as a symptom. Its learnt behaviour. Its possibly left over from the protests of the 60's. When people / animals try and try and constantly fail to succeed, then apathy is the final stage, preceded by grief and anger. I call for lateral thought, for action and a less self orientated approach. Now I just need to figure out to what ; )
reusha reusha 36-40, F Jan 17, 2012

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