Wednesday

"All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word" - Sir Winston Churchill


Alright, I’m going public: I love to abbreviate. While “totes” and “maybs” are my guilty pleasures, I‘m not afraid to improvise, rolling out brand new words before you even have time to ask Far East Movement ‘how exactly does one “get slizzered“?’ Abbreviations are my portal to a whole new social hemisphere: like Peter Parker donning his Spider Man suit, when I produce an adjective liberated of its cumbersome appendage I’m transformed from bookish law student to dynamic woman of the world.

But thanks to ambassadors like Ke$ha and Rachel Zoe, us abbreviators are not generally known for our intelligence. So as Gen Y throws up more abbreviations than Johnny Knoxville throws up wasabi-coated aliments in Jack Ass, I’m here to defend this revolutionary breed of communicator; to prove that condensing the vast spectrum of human emotion to fit the screen of an iPhone is not a tragic reduction of our powers of self-expression, but a pragmatic advancement in English expediency; to reinforce the revelation of Kyle Sanderlands, faithful devotee to the sound of his own voice, that there is no direct correlation between intelligence and sentence-length.

George Bernard Shaw might be writhing in his grave if he knew that Gen Y’s favourite pass time was the mutilation of his beloved English language. The subversive George Orwell, on the other hand, would at last be dreaming sweet. Those who denounce Gen Y’s communication revolution as a destruction - born of sheer laziness - of centuries of human progression and refinement are obviously unfamiliar with Orwell’s Politics and the English Language. Our generation is finally tearing down the barrier to precision in communication that presents itself in flowery phrases and resonant rhetoric. Our “phenoms” and “whenevs” are infusing our society with integrity, filling in the potholes in our language where politicians, Daily Telegraphs and Tracey Grimshaws alike have cunningly buried the truth beneath bewitching poetry. The minimalism of the Gen Y dialect will hail in a new era of transparency and sincerity in communication.

While there will always be purists, reveling in their sanctimonious smirks like Neoclassicists short-sightedly condemning a Van Gogh whenever they hear a “whatever” shed the oppressive weight of its last two letters so that an understated “s” may blossom in their place, most of us have sufficiently advanced to appreciate the abbreviation for the innovation that it is. Just as the French overturned the viciously-indulgent opulence of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, the time will come when such conservatives will be exposed for the syllable-gluttons that they truly are, depriving the rest of society of communicational prosperity.

But in the meantime, if I am to begin using these words more flagrantly in public, I suppose it would be in my best interest to dye my hair a few shades darker and perhaps start wearing my glasses more often.

End note: In the case that my words strike a chord and we experience a forcible wave of pro-abbreviators, let me take this opportunity to thank you for your readership, for since the cumbersome phrases of this blog probably won’t make it into the new era of language, it may be my last.

Tuesday

I'm a Mouse, Duh.

One more invitation to a fancy dress party and I’m moving to the moon where the only type of dress-ups they have are compulsory suits to prevent suffocation. Not only for the sake of my empire-waist dress, still bearing its tags and desperate to get out of the closet and work it’s magic where that extra Tim Tam is beginning to show, but also for the social welfare of our generation. You may not see the acute danger in a night out dressed as the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland, but I speak from experience when I say that fancy dress parties are up there with the mullet, denim on denim and Perez Hilton as one of the most critical social hazards of our time. The last thing I’d want to be is a kill joy; my aim through sharing my own traumatic experiences is education on how to enjoy the upcoming festive season responsibly.

To understand the obsession with dress-up parties, we need search no further than the insightful tween epic, Mean Girls. While perhaps not conventionally acknowledged as a product of high culture or featuring alongside Dead Poet’s Society on the most inspirational movies of all time list, there is a multitude of wisdom to be unearthed in this film. Like a 21st century Gandhi, Cady preaches that “Halloween is the one night a year when girls can dress like total sluts and no other girls can say anything about it.” For a generation addicted to exhibitionism (to reiterate, I’m talking about self-broadcasting, not self-disrobing, though you’d be forgiven for any confusion given the topic we’re discussing), fancy dress is to Gen Y as prison is to Lindsay, as Ray Bans are to white people, as new-release-better-than-the-version-you-bought-last-week is to Apple. Not only do they provide an opportunity to dress as a sexy little bow peep without so much as a raised eyebrow or a “I’m pretty sure traditional shepherds would have found 6-inch stilettos and 2-inch skirts highly impractical when rounding up sheep”, but they are the perfect excuse for Gen-Y exhibitionists to abuse the homepages of their facebook friends with a bombardment of offensive self-snapped close-ups in awkward poses. It would be sacrilegious to go to the effort of sewing 10 metres of tule to bow peep’s underskirt and not post at least a 78-picture-long album showcasing your hard work; if it’s not on facebook, it didn’t happen. Never mind that those primary school students you tutor who found you on facebook will now have the image of you posing suggestively with the shepherd’s crook lurking in their minds as you teach them the radius of a circle - this is the inevitable carnage of achieving facebook popularity. 

Apart from encouraging the exhibitionist tendencies of those who need no encouragement, fancy dress can produce some serious social fallout. Gossip Girl would have us believe that an encounter with a masked stranger at a fancy dress ball inevitably leads to an exhilarating melange of mysterious strangers and thrilling scandal. They lied. It’s actually just really awkward. I thought I had rid myself of this problem once and for all after affectionately administering a dead-leg from behind to my best friend who was in actual fact my university lecturer forced me finally to face the fact that I was more short-sighted than a labour voter who believed Gillard’s promises on climate change and get myself some lenses. But the last fancy dress party I attended involved a cozy hug with an individual in a full-body chicken costume who it turned out was not the guy I sit next to in lectures but a complete stranger, after which I had to endure sniggers from him and his friends every time I passed them during the night (cruelly fated that they had taken up camp beside the snacks table). Whether it’s a wounded self-esteem beneath a bombardment of giggles from complete strangers, or a re-fueled exhibitionism as we ignore the angry threats if we don't "put the camera away!", fancy dress is damaging to each of us in our own way.

Despite negativity to rival film reviews of the latest Harry Potter, I will admit to owing at least one positive outcome to the fancy dress party: while the night began standing amongst a group of clowns and circus freaks in the rain outside a night club telling us we didn’t quite fit the dress code, the costume eventually paid-off. After being separated from my similarly-adorned friends, alone on the dance floor dressed as Bozo, a number of strangers commented on my unusual sense of style, one of whom mistook me for someone alternative enough to lend a hand on his film set and offered me a job. It has, however, been exhausting to keep up the pretence of alternative film buff and I’m pretty sure that after he saw me use an iPhone and then choose a meat dish over tofu at lunch the other day, he’s catching on to my lack of alternativeness...

So please, for the social welfare of a generation and for my un-christened empire dress, don’t make your next party a fancy dress. If you couldn’t care less about my empire dress, then at least do it for the sake of our creativity; after years of endless dress-up parties, it’s getting more and more difficult to come up with an original costume, especially when every second theme is “what I wanna be when I grow up”. There’s only so many times a guy can don the cross-dressers outfit before it stops being funny and people start asking questions. A new low for me was cutting arm and leg holes in my foam mattress to a “letter M” party. While it may have hidden the extra Tim Tam even better than an empire dress, it is nice to be able to sit down at a party. 

Kim Beazley, I salute you.

I am beginning to regret sniggering at a rejected and dejected Kim Beazley back in 2004 in an arrogant disregard of the rule about not kicking ‘em when they’re down. He might come from Perth with a voice almost as vexatious as the ideas it articulates, but as I lick my wounds following the university election season, I have a new found respect for the big guy and his chronicle of losses. The close of the polling booths of the Sydney Uni Law Society election - i.e. the campaign that forces itself upon the facebook home pages of engineering students, social work students, Brisbane University students, and your Zumba instructor alike, despite the fact that only law students can vote - marks for me the end of one, long, drawn-out losing streak. 
There’s a lot at stake during a university campaign; sleep-ins, egos, uni marks, friendships, fashion sense, sanity. And yet our generation gets on board year after year. Of course, at the height of a campaign, there’s nothing you’d rather do than wake up at 5 am to cover your campus in posters which will probably end up in the bin by lunchtime the same day. Once you’ve lost, however, it’s difficult to find meaning in all those Saturday nights spent mixing chalk. And the red mark on your forehead from that time about seven hours into election day when you decided the “I voted STRIKE” stickers were meant for your face is a cruel reminder of your failure that takes a few days to fade. How KBeaz dealt with getting beat on a national scale not once but twice, had his weight problem rubbed in his face with daily news features of his vanquisher on morning jogs around Kirribili, and then still put his hand up for more I’ll never know.
By engaging in a university campaign, you’re taking a significant social risk. I didn’t realise I was capable of inspiring cold-blooded fear in the hearts of my friends and acquaintances until I crossed the law school foyer on election day gripping a wad of campaign flyers. Of course, ostracism did have its advantages: the line for Taste Baguette was always much more bearable after we cleared the room with our campaign T-shirts. And to be fair, I have gained 15 new facebook friends from amongst my ticket (hopefully enough to make up for the plunge that occurred the day my profile pic was changed to a campaign logo). 
Perhaps the most depressing part of the whole ordeal is realising that this thing you’ve poured your heart and soul into, nobody else could really give a crap about. From the epicentre of a campaign, the lack of water coolers in the library seems like a more pressing issue than global warming and the world hunger crisis combined. When you emerge from the campaign cocoon, you’re left with a multitude of baffling questions; why doesn’t the uneven tiling outside room 104 get anybody else’s blood boiling!? Why don’t you people care about the calendar clash between the competitions grand final and interfaculty sports!? But your questions fall on ears deafened by the speakers of last night’s SubSki event, rubbing in the fact that the only thing that really gets anybody worked-up on campus is the socials agenda.
One thing Kim Beazley could have improved upon was his ability to see the positives in a situation. His description of his role in the Labour party as “Lazarus with a triple bypass” doesn’t exactly smack of someone on the lookout for a silver lining. But unlike Beaz, I don’t see my election experience as entirely negative; flyering on Eastern Avenue, trying to block my opponents from reaching the next potential voter before I got to them was excellent training for the netball season. And with a wardrobe bursting with campaign T-shirts, I never have to buy pajamas again. 

Wednesday

Us, intolerant? Never!

Earlier this year the United Nations denounced Australia as a place of “entrenched” discrimination. But we sure proved them wrong in the latest election. Not only did we get ourselves our first female prime minister, but she’s a ginger. To borrow an expression from Chandler Bing, could we be any more inclusive?
Having grown up with the political buzz word “tolerance” ringing in our ears, Gen Y prides itself on its social inclusivity. That incident in Cronulla aside, we like to think of ourselves as pioneers of a multicultural society where the only thing that matters is what’s on the inside, and the fact that Eurasian couples make hot babies is honestly just a bonus. The number of student societies dedicated to social inclusion on our university campuses has rocketed so high that they have degenerated into competition: whichever society can get the most white North Shore kids on a chauffeured coach to a rural school to tell kids born of eighteen generations of agriculturalists how great it is to attend Sydney University wins. And some of them even have a few members completely uninterested in resume padding. 
Gen Y’s revolutionary attitude may be traceable to the post-modern wisdom of Foucault and friends: nothing gets a Gen Y-er worked-up like an absolute statement against somebody else’s belief system. If you’re sick of hearing that uni student in your workplace talk about their iPhone and that “Charlie bit my finger” YouTube video, there’s one simple and effective way to destroy the friendship: tell them you think Islam is wrong. They will be shocked by your narrow-minded exclusivity and respond by ostracizing you from the office social agenda. But if all you need is a little relief from the latest installment of Awesome Things I Did On My GAP Year, rather than complete destruction of the friendship, it will suffice to tell them that you think Christianity is wrong. Denouncing a Western belief system always goes down much better than any foreign option; that way you appear much more open-minded and nonconformist. (This has been kindly modeled for us by the diplomatic statements made by Hockeyroo Kate Hollywood on Delhi’s Commonwealth games, taking a more positive slant on the security fears, dellapidated accommodation, an outbreak of dengue-fever, and the collapse of a footbridge next to the main stadium when she said, “they’ve really started off with a big bang!”) Such comments will buy you a few days of the cold-shoulder before your Gen-Y buddy will be positively bursting to tell you of the magnificence of Campos coffee again. Just try to constrain the impulse to tell them that it’s not fair trade, that would probably be the last straw.
But if you’re a religious evangelist, by no means should you see this display of tolerance as a green light to share your beliefs with Gen Y in the public forum. Just because you can’t denounce other religious beliefs, doesn’t mean you can confirm them either, unless you’re prepared to be labelled small-minded and conservative quicker than Sheik Hilali on International Women’s Day. The only politically-correct form of public monotheism is Apple worship, and even that company was co-created by two individuals. 
Confused yet? Considering whether standing as still as possible and trying not to blink is a plausible means of escaping the terrifying attention of a tolerance-Nazi? Wondering how it ever became appropriate to conjoin the words “tolerance” and “Nazi”? If there’s one golden rule to remember, it's that there is absolutely no absolute truth. As long as you can ignore the fact that this breaks the other golden rule about not showing favouritism to Western world views, you’ll be on a chauffeured coach to the outback in no time.

Monday

Are you even listening to me?

“I’m jealous of the dog: my mum loves it more than she loves me.” 
Words I discovered on the back door of the toilet cubicle on the lower ground of the Carslaw building. It was pretty uncomfortable to have such an intimate, heartfelt message blaring at me while I was engaged in an activity equally as intimate. Even in the most private of settings, Generation Y can’t help but share its thoughts.
Facebook is often hit with the blame for raising up an army of exhibitionists, mercilessly launching a reign of pointless comments or dull narratives (for most of which “you had to be there”) over the home pages of users innocently trying to make a new friend. But if we’re letting Bert Newton off the hook for spawning an epicurean woman-basher, it doesn’t seem fair to pin the blame for an entire generation’s ego problem on the creators of Facebook. They were just smart enough to tap into and become filthy rich off the already rampant exhibitionism in our society. 
For we are the children of the self-expression movement, whose parents celebrated our food-throwing tantrums, furniture finger painting and lack of cleanliness as evidence of creative genius. Similarly, the thrill of an audience was something we came to expect in tender infancy; I’d like to meet a female Gen Y-er who didn’t spend the greater part of their childhood stuffed into glittering bumble bee costumes at dancing concerts with about three layers of make-up more than should ever be seen on a pre-pubescent girl, and four rows of family members in the audience snapping pics. 
Reality TV producers are another cunning breed thriving off Gen Y’s unique ability to project their own opinion onto anything that crosses their path. Don’t try and tell me that people are genuinely entertained by a middle-aged man fretting over the rise of his soufflĂ© or an obese person struggling up a hill. If you’ve ever watched Master Chef with a real chef or Survivor with an experienced adventurer, you’ll know the primary reason any of us watch reality TV is to criticise the participants and talk about the better job that we would do if the producers were smart enough to pick us for the show (except for the watermelon launch episode of the Amazing Race: that’s just plain hilarious).
The paradox of our careers as self-promoters is that the universal pre-occupation with voicing our own opinion leaves very few to actually listen to those opinions. I wonder how many Facebook wall posts are motivated by a desire to give our own wall a bit of extra padding when the person is obliged to reply; how many Twitterers have “become a follower” because they are genuinely interested in what that person ate for lunch, not because they wish to increase their own pool of captive readers. I would like to thank Ellen Degeneres, the sound of whose voice never ceases to give me indigestion, for perfectly illustrating my point for me when she told the audience of her talk show, “I think people talk too much anyway. Sometimes people are talking to me and in my mind I'm just like "shut up, shut up, shut up...blah blah blah blah blaaaaah." Oh, the irony.
Just as Britain smiled politely at the German troops it ushered into the Sudetenland in 1938, Gen Y seems to have missed a clear warning about loving the sound of your own voice: K Rudd. Busy dazzling himself with streams of Chinese and uplifting self-talk about how it was Obama’s loss for rejecting the invite, he barely even noticed the grumbles of discontent around him, until one day even his own wing(wo)man had had enough. One day we might miss the friends we lost when we were too busy updating our statuses about the latest funny thing we said to our bus driver. But since this blog itself is probably a shining example of exhibitionism, most likely the only person I’m preaching to is myself.
Disclaimer: The term “exhibitionism” is used in this article to refer to unrestrained self-publicists. It is not intended to connate the medical term used to describe the psychological condition characterized by a compulsion to expose one’s genitals to an unsuspecting stranger - that important topic will be addressed in later blogs. 

Thursday

My core's harder than your core.

It would be pure torture for a Baby Boomer to have to choose a favourite from amongst their cherished collection of Gen Y criticisms. But the “commitment phobe” insult would definitely rate high on their "Most Relished" list. Disregarding the fact that the demographic condemning this Gen-Y character trait is more than likely responsible for its inception, since from the midst of our tender youth we watched them pioneer the loftiest divorce rate in the history of mankind, it may not be so far from the truth. With an average of fifteen career changes in a single lifetime, Gen Y-ers are the Tiger Woods’s of the job market; the average marriage age, for the declining portion that do decide to tie the knot, is increasing like Liberal voters in a GFC; having grown-up in a global village, as more and more of us pack-up and move our lives abroad, we are by far the most territorially promiscuous bunch around.
And yet, our generation has absolutely no problem publicly declaring undying love for a musical ensemble. If you’re after a laugh, all that’s required to watch your peers behave like jealous lovers is to mention that you were a U2 fan all the way back when Bono’s glasses were not blue-tinted, but orange; a Muse fan way before Stephanie Meyer’s vexatious attempt to pin the blame for her inspiration for Twilight on the band; a fan of The Middle East back when asking someone if they’d heard of them would generally provoke a response of, “Um, yeah...have you heard of Europe?” But don’t broach the topic if you’re in a hurry: such statements will only ever result in an impromptu round of lyric trivia backed-up by a bout of verbal roulette as you sound-off the occasions you saw them live. It’s the only way to determine which fan’s core is in fact the hardest. University bell curves won’t stop us sharing notes, and even the most violent game of badminton will end in a friendly handshake, but put an enchanting melody with a sweet soprano and Generation Y will transform into a pack of blood-thirsty competitors. 
Apart from the occasional hysterical Britney fan appealing to the hearts of the YouTube world to leave the girl alone (honestly people, obviously she shaved her head cos she wanted less attention...of course she could’ve sold-out a 20 000 seat arena on sheer talent and a completely sound mind) this phenomenon is particularly apparent amongst the Indie crowds. Perhaps those of us who are still telling ourselves that the Indie movement is not mainstream are trying to bolster our own alternative image. Are we like the emos of the early naughties convinced they were a minority, sitting by the thousands on town hall steps to collectively reflect on their solitude, to empathise with each other about how no-one understands? 
It could be that I’m just not comfortable thinking of myself as an angsty teenaged boy wearing eyeliner, but I’d like to believe that this inter-fan rivalry has more to do with genuine passion than image. It’s just a little glimpse of the dedication our generation is capable of in a world showcasing the dangers of commitment. When we’re moved by profound lyrics and the soft strum of a banjo, we can’t help but give our heart to a band. So naturally, when they take that offering and jump all over it on a stage in front of hundreds of thousands of people, it hurts like hell. When The Temper Trap left for the States, I think I understood how Jen felt watching Brad upgrade to Angelina. And when they announced a show on every continent, I finally got what it was like for her to see the new couple collecting their tribe of rainbow children. But as the saying goes, it’s better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all. 

We'll have our vocational cake, and eat it too.

I recently sat through a lecture in which a university professor had the audacity to suggest that we weren’t all going to be CEOs by the age of 25; that everyone has to start at the bottom and work their way up; that we were in for many long years of slogging away at the dirty jobs no-one else wants to do. The nerve of the guy! If he wanted to engage in some public dream-shattering, he could at least make it constructive and go inform Katter and his cowboy hat that he’s a politician, not the main character from Toy Story (although I think the New York Times may have beat him to it...) 


Clearly this lecturer hasn’t heard the messages of Gen Y’s primary school teachers, careers counsellors, adoring parents and Disney movies, that dreams do come true. But he’s a professor, hasn’t he at least seen the statistics? Your average generation might be content with just one measly career path in a lifetime, but not Gen Y. We’re inspired enough to pursue fifteen. And hasn’t he noticed the masses of people enrolling in Arts degrees? A bit of faith in your own abilities is all it takes to prove that Arts is more than just a dead-end degree producing graduates with remarkable abilities to squeeze impressive quantities of adjectives into a single sentence and absolutely no employable skills. Sure, the same Arts students dreaming of becoming poets also see images of yachts and waterfront homes when they close their eyes. But as the door nob in Disney’s Alice in Wonderland so wisely put it, “nothing is impossible" if you set your mind to it. 


That’s not to say that motivational messages should come without their warnings. There are those whose fanatical dreaming is coming dangerously close to spoiling the fun for the rest of us. Was it really necessary for Miley Cyrus to attack our cinema screens after she had already made an admirable attempt at contaminating our radios and defiling our TV sets? And has she no mercy for the poor mothers looking-on in horror as their tweens wreathe themselves in items from her clothing line? 


Caught between Gen Z’s rorting the dreaming system, and a few prominent killjoys acting on behalf of the Baby Boomers (mining tax, anyone?), Gen Y is a shining example of dreaming done at it’s best. Just please, no-one tell Hamish and Andy about the whole “fifteen career paths in a lifetime” thing. Word is they’re planning on bidding adieu to radio in order to pursue TV, and I’m just not sure how I'd cope on the drive home without them... 


Disclaimer: This blog is in no way representative of the writing style of Arts students. It should not be taken as evidence that all Arts students unexceptionally possess remarkable abilities to squeeze impressive quantities of adjectives into a single sentence and absolutely no employable skills.

I lost my friend to Twighlight.

Last month was a difficult time for me. Not just because we realised we were actually going to be forced to choose between a dull prime minister or an overbearing one in a fast-approaching election; nor because John Farnham announced yet another final tour. Rather, it was the Australian release of Eclipse, the third film in the Twighlight saga, that drove this period of hardship home. 


Neither the pain inflicted by screams of swarming girls balanced precariously on the border between childhood and adolescence, nor the merciless blows dealt by Kristen Stewart’s attempt at acting could compare to the flood of painful memories the film brought rushing back into my life. For though Twighlight has robbed the magic from cinema, it has stolen something much more precious from me: a very dear friend.


It was after the release of Twilight that my friend first discovered that he looked like a vampire. It was after Robert Patterson came to Australia that he realised he could make this work in his favour: this pale kid who never smiled could pull chicks. From that moment everything changed. My friend’s clandestine missions to his sister’s bathroom cabinet to capture bottles of fake tan were abruptly aborted; he now wore his glow-in-the-dark skin with pride. The guy who had asked his sister to his high school formal was now perpetually surrounded by a gaggle of giggling tweens. And as his ego grew, so to did the height of his new bouffant hairstyle. 


Our friendship has never been the same. It’s kind of demoralizing being around someone who doesn’t laugh at your jokes because he believes the grimace is more becoming, and no fun at all entertaining a guest who spends the whole time hissing at your dog. 


I could comment on the irony of a generation that doesn’t have time for real-life romance obsessed with a fantastical story of forbidden love. Or the paradox of a generation of women who seem to have finally broken through that glass ceiling, whilst simultaneously tearing through books starring the ultimate damsel in distress. But really, I just want my friend back. Stephanie Meyer, give me back my friend. 

Wednesday

No you cannot ask me a quick question about my hair.

If one more flannelette-clad guy with a slight British accent and rugged good-looks approaches me outside the QVB with a question about my hair, I cannot be held responsible for my subsequent actions. “But your Honour, he was a promoter” should be a legitimate defence in court. Putting aside the frustration of seeing your bus drive past while some guy rattles on about honeycomb treatment technology, since when is it OK for a stranger to single you out on the street as needing a haircut?

These days there’s a promoter lurking around every corner, waiting to flash a dazzling smile that has us cheerfully gorging-out the contents of our wallets before we can re-assemble our mental faculties to remember what the movie Taken taught us about good-looking strangers. You can’t even trust your own friends anymore - they could betray you at any moment by bombarding your Facebook with an endless stream of messages about the Friday guest list at SOHO. Facebook will never be a haven of witty wall posts and casual stalking again, as you are now faced with the dilemma of whether your real-life friendship would survive if you were to block them in the cyber world. (Then again, should you really be that stressed over a friendship with a guy in his mid-twenties who frequents the same nightclubs as underage schoolgirls?)

No generation is more in need of liberation from this tyranny than our own. Since apparently Gen Y has greater spending power than any other, as well as the greatest influence over the spending of our families, we’re the ones bearing the brunt of the promotions industry. You can't say Gen-Y isn't a patient bunch: we’ve put up with the harassment of marketers since we were embryotic, the Herald Sun describing us as “the first generation to have been in the sights of advertisers while in the womb.”

The most perplexing aspect of this phenomenon is that Gen Y possesses the tools to launch an effective resistance against the promoter; having been raised on a steady diet of search engines and wiki pages that could quite possibly have been written by your Alzeihmic next-door neighbour, discernment between the factual and the unreliable is one of our most natural instincts. So why have we allowed the promoter’s species to reproduce and multiply at such a rapid pace? Is it that deep down, once you navigate past all the jokes about how many promo girls it takes to screw in a light bulb, we actually want to be marketed to? As a self-confessed material generation, we’ll usually listen-up when someone’s raving about something we ain’t got (unless of course, it’s not Apple brand). Or is it that this latest sub-species of face-to-face promoters has found the chink in our armor: we’ve spent so much time practicing our powers of discernment against any information-generating authority, that we don’t know what to do when faced with a real-life human being on a street corner appealing to us with a personal testimony of their experiences.

Whatever the cause, I appeal to you to now to bring that Gen-Y fraud-filter of yours onto the street. With a united front we can put the promoter out of business. I don’t want my children, or children’s children, or children’s parents, to fear the motives of any passer-by who asks them for the time, or to suffer the tyranny of a pamphlet being shoved into their already-overloaded hands, or to question their self-worth when they realize this person is only talking to them because someone is paying them. Let’s fight to reduce promoter pollution.

Unless, of course, they’re trying to give us something for free. Those guys can stay.

Tuesday

When strangers know your middle name...

Last night I was introduced to a stranger at a party who already knew my full name, the breed of my dog, and the way I like my eggs cooked in the morning. With a nervous laugh I shook the guys hand and desperately glanced around at my friends expecting to see them slowly backing towards the door with fake smiles and wild eyes, dialing 000 on phones behind their backs. Instead, they were beaming at the guy as if they were Kevin Rudd stumbling to get to Jessica Watson as she descended her little pink boat, not the way you would usually react to someone who might have an AVO against their name. Apparently it's completely socially-acceptable these days to openly confess to stalking someone.

Turns out he was another poor soul addicted to face book who I had apparently accepted as a friend although I'd never actually met the guy. Perhaps this says just as much about my embarrassing facebook habits as it does about his (I'm not a friend-collector, I swear...). These sorts of awkward meetings are not uncommon in a world where no-one seems to be able to reflect upon how nice the weather is, have any sort of fun, or even get dumped without twittering about it, posting photos on face book, or receiving an embarrassing relationship status update before the eager eyes of the entire cyber world.

But while we all seem more than happy to broadcast the intimate details of our daily routine to the cyber world (why we care what the guy in our Spanish lecture had for breakfast is another question), the damages being sought in legal cases for invasions of privacy in the real world are substantial enough to buy back your dignity even if you’re Kanye West at the VMAs. Our generation seems to be just as confused about the value of privacy as it is about why Julia Gillard keeps her hair red even though she's living with a hair dresser.

But the courts themselves don’t seem too sure of their stance on privacy either. While a bruised and battered British actor had no action for invasion of privacy against the journalist who trespassed into his hospital room, secretly photographed him lying gaping-mouthed and semi-conscious in his hospital bed, and then published it in the tabloids, Sienna Miller recently won $79 000 in damages while being photographed by the paparazzi. Couldn’t the scoundrels tell that her blow-dried hair, something-thousand dollar outfit and twinkling eyes weren’t an invitation to take her photo?! Gosh.

Perhaps even more perplexing, is that a generation who lives by the ethic "work smart not hard" doesn't seem to have realised yet that the more we twitter and blog and write on each others’ walls and live vicariously through our much more social, more attractive (it’s much easier to fake good looks in a self-snapped photo in half-light), more eloquent cyber-selves, the harder it is to fake a sickie when your boss can get online and see you tagged in a photo at the pub...