Tag Archives | social observation


There is a surprise candidate as the No 1 cause of early ageing in Western society and it’s not bad living.

THERE are a number of factors that lead to premature ageing, according to a recent study. The usual suspects are there: smoking, drinking, obesity, living in polluted cities. But the No 1 cause really surprised me: phobias.

An article in The Huffington Post revealed the world is full of phobics and that almost 10 per cent of Americans had at least one, with the statistic rising dramatically for women. This can be a specific fear such as arachnophobia (fear of spiders) or an overall uneasiness in certain situations, such as agoraphobia or social phobia.

‘‘Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital analysed survey results and blood samples from 5243 women, ages 42 to 69, finding that intense phobic anxiety leads to faster biological ageing (and found) a link between anxiety and shorter telomeres, DNA- protein complexes on the ends of chromosomes that are thought to be the biological markers of ageing.’’ Continue Reading →


Fear of Feelings

There is a big difference between being emotional and actually feeling things.

ONE of my lecturers said something interesting the other day, certainly food for thought. We were told to create a film scene with real characters doing what people realistically do and say. And he cautioned us to be careful not to let the actors emote or express too much. ‘‘People in real life find it really hard to let themselves feel things. It’s often painful and embarrassing to feel.’’

I thought, this doesn’t apply to me or many people I know. I was figuring maybe it’s a cultural thing, the difference between, say, hot-blooded Latinate versus Anglo-Saxon behaviour? Continue Reading →


Friendship needs honesty

Without boundaries and truth, our friendships are doomed

A WOMAN I work with was bemoaning the loss of a friendship so late in her life. At 56, she said, she honestly didn’t think it was possible to lose a 40-year friendship. ‘‘We’d been at school together, reared each other’s kids, shared our lives, lived abroad together. But suddenly it was over.’’

I asked her what she thought had ended it. ‘‘It was me. It was my fault the friendship ended.’’ She then went on to explain what is one of the most common phenomenon in friendships: the ‘‘not speaking out until its too late’’ syndrome. Sadly, it’s happened to so many of us. We sit on resentment, and sit on it, and sit on it, not knowing how to confront the person who is upsetting or offending us. Continue Reading →


The Power of Belief

When someone believes something about you, good or bad, you’ll always end up proving them right!

I RECENTLY met up with a group of people I’d known years ago. We all got a little tipsy and even though much time had elapsed since we’d seen each other, they felt comfortable enough to chide me. ‘‘Yes, but you’re the type of person who…” ‘‘Tell Ruth that story, she loves that sort of thing . . . Ruth’s a party girl…’’

I found it all very odd at first since I wasn’t quite sure what they meant. And then I worked it out. They were talking about a Ruth they knew a decade ago. And although so much had changed over 10 years, they were guilty of what so many of us are guilty of: primacy error.

Primacy error is an irrational process where the brain remembers its first impressions of a person’s traits and gets locked into its original opinion. Examples of primacy error are: ‘‘Jenny is mean with money’’; ‘‘Simon isn’t that bright’’; ‘‘It’s always grey and cold in Melbourne’’. The error doesn’t make rational sense. Jenny may well have been mean at one stage, but may have been short of money at the time, and is now comfortable. Simon may have had depression at the time he was judged. He then went on to invent the internet. Melbourne can have lovely days too. Continue Reading →


Is common courtesy dead?

Have manners died in the era of social media when it’s so easy to ignore emails or texts? And what about common courtesy in general? I was in the movies last night and some dude was munching lollies and crackling paper all night during a sad (great) movie The Tree of Life while the woman in front was texting – the light going in my eyes. Road rudeness is everywhere. But “email and text neglect” is the worst.

It’s so rare to get a return email from some people that you figure there is something wrong with your inbox. Maybe you’ve turned on spam by mistake? Nope! It’s just bad behaviour that’s all! And lack of respect. There is always the plea:

“I never got your text” or “My email was down for the past few days,”

Which is the “cheque’s in the mail” of our decade. After all, who could argue with the precarious nature of electronic media? The worst display of rudeness comes from those who take calls and texts while you’re with them at dinner or coffee. Read the full story in the Weekend Australian.

And share your views here on rudeness and what cheeses you off.

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All I want is a little RESPECT

I hate that people don’t show each other respect. What ever happened to common courtesies like returning phone calls or even emails?

It’s not unusual in my profession to wait days for calls or emails to be returned or to have to ring and ring again. The reason is obvious, I am the journalist and i want something out of you the inerviewee. Therefore it is accepted that I am the groveller not the grovellee. I am naturally on the back foot. And if I do want to have your time then the onus is on me to get hold of you. Fair enough. But in daily interactions based on equality the groveller/ grovellee situation doesn’t work. I know friends who only ever wait for you to contact them, or people who are “too busy” to return calls – as if we aren’t all busy.

In my view it is courteous and respectful to drop someone a one-line email saying, too busy to write now, will get to you by the end of the week; or leave that message on the mobile. It is easy enough for the busiest of us to set time aside each day just to show respect. It is about acknowledging others and making them feel seen and heard even if we don’t want to deal with the issue they are contacting us about.

It makes people feel like they are invisible if we leave them dangling, This one really makes me mad. What about you?

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