I bought myself a new pillow (a good pillow is a canny investment) for Christmas, and it’s either that, or the new bed I’m sleeping in, which seems to have triggered a very rich phase of dreaming. I seem to dream all night, the dreams interesting and quirky, and occasionally compelling – I was close to tears in this mornings edition. I enjoy it – I always find dreams an interesting aspect of human nature – but though I seem to be sleeping well I don’t feel particularly rested.
That might just as well be the recent weather. It has been a hot few days, and Friday night particularly was stifling. Even with air-con it’s not conducive to a peaceful slumber. Unless you’re at the beach or by the pool the days aren’t any more fun. The curtains are closed, the air-conditioning blasts out it’s cooling air non-stop, and it feels a very artificial environment in which I, for one, find it hard to settle. With the hot northerly’s it’s no better outdoors. It’s the worst of all possible weather combo’s.
Weather has always been a reliable source of conversation, especially in Melbourne where it’s notoriously so changeable. In recent years weather seems to be have been elevated to something more than casual conversation fodder. News bulletins lead with it, it’s on the front page of the newspaper. I don’t remember it being that way when I was growing up. Hot weather we accepted as just one of those things we had to endure, and in a time before widespread climate control. Now it’s news.
I wonder if it’s because of the ongoing hullaballoo over climate change. Weather was once seen as a part of nature; nowadays we accept – by and large – man’s interference and detrimental impact on nature in general, and climate in particular. You’re entitled to feel a tad pissed off when you bake another day, or when yet another quirky weather pattern takes hold. It makes sense in a way, except climate change tends only to be referenced in passing in these reports. It’s more about how darn hot it is, about staying cool, about the dangers to the elderly and the homeless, and the inevitable warning about locking your children in the car. In other words, it’s been sensationalised.
I don’t like it overmuch, but then I’m old school in just about every day. I appreciate it’s getting hotter more frequently, and I’m a passionate believer that we should be acting now to prevent it from getting too much worse. Still, so much focus on a couple of hot days feels a bit like whinging. It buys into the superficial, look-at-me aspects of society today, where everything is commented on and has a hashtag affixed to it.
Despite my protestations I’m actually a part of that myself. I made a sardonic reference on Twitter yesterday to the weather (I may be hot, but at least I have gin), though without hashtag on this occasion. On another day I’ll be sincerely singing the praises of Twitter to expose news, information and opinion the mainstream media neglects. At a time when most mainstream media has become crap it’s been a necessary alternative.
It changes thought patterns though. Once upon a time 99% of us were passive consumers of news; today we have the opportunity to report on it ourselves, and possibly even become part of it. The weather we once endured stoically we cannot now experience without passing comment on it, even if it is spurious. We sensationalise, trivialise, and normalise. I suspect if science conducted an analysis on human brains comparing one 30 years ago to a brain today significant differences would show up.
The serious side of it was highlighted yesterday. Yes, it was fucking hot, but it was the effects of that heat which deserved reporting. Terrible bushfires in South Australia, and more in the western part of Victoria, saw people lose their homes, property and livestock destroyed, as well as other shocking stories I don’t want to repeat here. This is legitimate news, but, shocking as it is, news no different from any other time in our settled history. The news doesn’t change really, just the way we look at it.