opinion

MIA FREEDMAN: Everyone is angry about everything. But I'm just exhausted.

It’s easier to be angry than disappointed. It’s easier to be angry than sad. It’s easier to be angry than uncertain or despairing or hopeless or worried. 

It’s easier to be angry than to feel scared or frustrated or despondent. 

It’s easier to be angry than to feel powerless. 

Anger is energising. Anger is active. Anger can feel a lot like power, even if it isn’t really. 

Anger can trick you into believing you’re taking control of a situation while you’re shouting or typing in ALL CAPS or thinking angry thoughts at 2am.

And it seems like everyone, honestly everyone, is furious right now.

The vaccinated are angry at the unvaccinated for refusing to do their part to protect everyone else.

The unvaccinated are angry at the mainstream media who they insist are censoring them and they’re also angry at the government for taking away their 'liberty'. Their liberty to do what remains unclear but they are angry nonetheless. Furious, in fact.

People with chronic illnesses and disabilities are angry at the government for making the call to ‘let it rip’ and now it’s ripping and they feel like they’ve been discarded.

People who are young and healthy are angry that their lives are being disrupted by restrictions and cancellations yet again, even though experts repeatedly assure them that for most people, Omicron will not be a serious illness.

Watch: Children 5-11 eligible for vaccination. Post continues after video.


Video via 10 News.

People who wanted to travel to Queensland in December are angry that their travel plans went to shit because of extreme testing requirements.

Queenslanders are angry at holiday-makers (the ones who got there) for bringing COVID with them and blowing out their numbers which were once zero. 

Everyone is angry that summer has been an epic cluster and Christmas was mostly ruined.

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Western Australians are angry with that French backpacker for slipping across the border and causing a ‘massive’ outbreak of 18 cases. 

The other states are angry with Western Australia for carrying on when many of us have more than 18 people in our group chats who got COVID in a single day.

People wearing masks are angry at the people who aren’t wearing masks for endangering them and the people not wearing masks are angry that people keep telling them to put on a mask.

Everyone is angry that there is no toilet paper again because we thought that was a 2020 problem and this is not only infuriating but also boring. Please.

We also thought Emily In Paris was a 2020 problem but it’s back with a season 2 variant and a lot of people are angry about that. Moi aussi.

Lots of people are angry with the people who are posting lighthearted memes about COVID because don’t you know it’s a Very Serious Illness and there’s nothing funny about sick kids and what about the health workers.

Teachers are angry about the prospect of having to return to school with unvaccinated kids during this new wave and parents are angry about the thought of having to do even one more minute of home learning except for the parents who are angry because they don’t want to send their kids back to school and they will be furious unless home learning resumes until every child has had both vaccines plus a booster which means some time around term four.

Health workers are angry because they’re exhausted, underpaid and underappreciated. As ever.

Essential services workers are angry because angry customers are taking their anger out on the poor people trying to serve them and whose fault it most definitely isn’t that there are supply chain problems.

The workers doing PCR tests are angry because people keep abusing them after having to wait six hours in their car and wee into an empty water bottle and how is this Australia in 2022.

Some people on Instagram are angry with other people on Instagram for not taking COVID seriously enough and continuing to post in an insensitive manner and they need to be cancelled for this immediately at least shamed into silent oblivion until further notice..

People everywhere are angry that the rules keep changing because it’s so confusing and exhausting to be worrying that you’re doing the wrong thing by accident and maybe killing someone and who knows what a close contact even is anymore and does it matter.

Everyone who hates maths is angry because we thought we’d left that behind when we finished school but now we’re being forced to solve COVID Maths problems every day such as: "if I do a positive RAT test on day four after exposure but the second line is only faint and then I don’t get symptoms until three days later does that mean I’m on day seven or day one and how the fuck can I work it out because there are no more RAT tests available within a 50km radius and I’m not meant to leave my house for….I have no idea how many days FML."

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Some people are angry when they get a negative COVID test result because they feel like they just want to get COVID done with and stop trying to dodge it like they have been for two years and now is the least disruptive time to get it, when all their friends have it and everything is cancelled anyway.

Other people are angry that these people are being so privileged, selfish and reckless with their health because remember that COVID can be a Very Serious Illness and you could kill someone’s grandmother.

People are angry at the person who they think gave them COVID or gave someone else COVID or anyone who might give anyone else COVID in the imaginary future. 

Everyone is angry with unvaccinated tennis players who want private chefs in hotel quarantine and some but not enough people are angry that there are refugee families living in that same hotel who have been held there for years.

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Scott Morrison is angry with Novak Djokovic for complaining about Australia and the unvaccinated Serbian tennis player is angry that people keep asking him why he doesn’t just get vaccinated already because that’s private please.

People are angry with the federal government that RAT tests are not free and that nobody saw Omicron coming because the word unprecedented has become a word we can’t seem to hear anymore. Like white noise.

And everyone is angry at everything that every state government is doing and not doing and should have done sooner or should never have done at all and they’re posting about it incessantly.

Is anyone else exhausted? Because I’m exhausted. And now is when I have to insert an obligatory yet also sincere disclaimer about it being a privilege to be exhausted, to not have to fight and be angry.

And that’s true. So many people have it so much worse than I do.

But I’m still exhausted. Are you? Even if you’re not angry yourself, it’s hard to escape everyone else’s anger because it’s spewing out of mouths, of phones, on social media, in group chats, in the media and on the street. You can’t escape it in cafes or shops or bars or sitting around with your family or your friends. Someone is always angry.

And I get it, I do. 

For the past two years, we have obediently done as we’re told. Most of us, anyway. We’ve followed rules and watched press conferences and we’ve said thank you for job keeper payments as we’ve watched the days and months of our lives slip through our fingers.

We’ve been careful to complain only a little and always bookend our complaints with disclaimers about how others have it worse. When the numbers go down it will be better. When we stay home it will be better. When we sacrifice seeing our family and friends and travelling and celebrating and gathering it will be better. When we wear masks. When the vaccine gets here. When I can hug my mum. When we get our booster. When kids can be vaccinated. When schools reopen. When borders reopen. When life gets back to normal. Or COVID-normal. Or just a bit less shit than it is right now.

Listen to CANCELLED: A recap of 2021. Post continues after audio.


But we’ve been running a marathon for two years and we’ve been trying to pace ourselves except how the hell do you do that when someone keeps moving the finish line? Oh sorry, you know how we said you had to run 42km? Surprise! It’s actually…..well who knows? Just keep running indefinitely, ok? 

So we want to blame someone. I certainly do. Since March 2020 I’ve blamed everyone from a Wuhan bat to the fancy rich lady with the expensive handbag in the nail salon who selfishly refused to wear a mask while getting her mani as if she was somehow special. God, I hated that lady obsessively for a good 24 hours last week.

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I’m tired now though. Tired of the shouting and the anger. Tired of hearing about it and reading about it and writing about it and thinking about it. 

Tired of feeling it.

Is it possible to run out of anger? Because I don’t find it energising anymore. I find it depleting and dispiriting. I find it boring and predictable. I find no solace in railing against the people who didn’t order enough tests or vaccines or boosters or trying to cancel the people making jokes because they’re looking for a little lightness at a heavy time. 

Fury doesn’t give me the toxic solace it once did.

Blame is no longer a comfort, it’s a drain. And it feels pointless because nobody knows what’s going to happen next and that’s harder to accept than the idea that some individual or organisation is to blame for this bin fire.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t been working for a couple of weeks and my brain has slowed down somewhat but I want to try and stumble into this year a little more gently and tread a little more softly. If that makes me sound all kumbaya, well, that’s not what I’m aiming for. Not complacency. Not blind acceptance. 

I just want to be less reactive. Not for altruistic reasons although that’s undoubtedly a benefit but because being angry all the time is no way to be. Not for me. Not anymore.

Uncertainty is one of the hardest states of being, and we have been marinating in extreme uncertainty without relief for almost two years now. Personally, pushing myself out of the COVID malaise using anger doesn’t work anymore so I’m going to try a different approach.

I’m going to try to stop looking for someone - or something - to blame. Because that kind of aggression doesn’t make me feel better, it makes me feel worse as soon as the sugar hit of anger subsides.

And before you leave an angry comment about what I’ve just said, I’m not telling you not to be angry or saying you are wrong for being angry. I am not positioning myself as more enlightened or in any way superior to someone who is angry. I’m just sharing how I feel because, as always, the reason I write is to see if I’m the only one feeling a certain way. 

Which is, right now, all angered out.

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