Why so mean?

I was reminded last week about a theme I wrote briefly about last year but neglected to publish the post. Here it is at last:

The Rugby World Cup win by the All Blacks was fantastic. A cinematic conclusion to the test careers of some superb players — and a dominant win where the 2011 final was on knife edge.

But one week on there was a meanness within the glee. Prince Charles remarked to the crowd outside parliament before the last victory parade that he wasn’t sure what to say to the Aussies when he went there the following week. There was a roar of approval. Applause at the Australians being beaten. Laughter that the notorious skites tasted bitterness while we kiwis guzzle glory.

Perhaps I am being oversensitive. Victories should be celebrated. Glory makes the wine better, the food more appetising, and the strangers on the street suddenly feel like old friends. There’s a common thing to unite us, and that thing is positive. However, like minded people tend to get more extreme when stuck together, and when social media is added to the brew I think the effect is compounded.

A friend who recently moved back to NZ after many years living in Australia, was struck by the change in attitude. It is a change for the worst, the low growl becoming a snarl. This is not something to be proud of, and is an antithesis to the character of this nation.

What are New Zealanders? Are they dead pan and honest? A nation of innocent Brett Mackenzie’s? No, that is just how the kiwi brand gets picked up by overseas leviathans. But what happens to this country when people overseas encounter kiwis that not only break those expectations, but replace them with the image of a hateful little country — full of spite, anger, and crippling unimportance.

A morsel for the brain perhaps, something to ruminate on while waiting for a kidney stone to pass. My point (if I have one at all) is that meanness is a sad form of social glue, and if that is what is keeping the citizens of this country together then leave me out of it.



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