'It can be draining.' Allira Potter on the reality of being on social media on January 26.

Mamamia only refers to January 26 by its date, to acknowledge that it is not a day of celebration for all Australians.

Allira Potter (she/they) has been having conversations about January 26 for as long as she can remember.

As a proud Yorta-Yorta woman, it's a subject that is deeply personal for her.

And as Allira explained on Mamamia's Fill My Cup podcast, it's a time that can be incredibly emotionally draining.

Watch: Changing the date with Narelda Jacobs. Story continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

"I'm exhausted already and it's not even January 26," Allira said on the podcast earlier this week, alongside artist, activist, and proud Goreng Goreng woman Rachael Sarra (she/her).

Both Allira and Rachael explained how they used to prescribe to the idea of changing the date – not celebrating 'Australia Day' on January 26, but instead on a more neutral date.

Now, they feel differently, saying, "We both want to not change the date, but abolish the date."


"My grandfather was an Italian man, and he came over to Australia to escape the war and met my grandmother, who is Aboriginal," Rachael said. 

"On one hand, I can understand for a lot of people, specifically migrants, Australia is very privileged and we are very safe and supported. But for the Aboriginal side of me, I'm always conflicted. What this day represents is the genocide of our people."

There's also a level of burnout associated with the debate as well – constantly having to champion such an important issue that is yet to be addressed and acted upon.

Rachael explained on the podcast that as someone who lives with anxiety, it can be really overwhelming in the lead-up to January 26.

"I am quite an anxious person and you feel that in your core. Every time this comes up, it bubbles. I feel frustrated and hurt because I know what our people have gone through. Me speaking, I am still from a position of privilege, but if I'm feeling this sh*tty, how are those on the front line and on the ground – how are they feeling?"


As Allira said: "Towards the lead up to January 26, the day of and the week or two after, I'm burnt out just from the exhaustion of talking about it and then being on social media."

Both Allira and Rachael work in predominantly online spaces. But when you have a public profile online, it can often come with a barrage of trolls. And this targeted bullying reaches a whole new level around the time of January 26.

For Rachael, she regularly checks the comment section under posts relating to January 26, to see if the rhetoric feels safe. And as soon as she posts something along the lines of, 'Aboriginal land. Always was. Always will be,' she is immediately plagued by people being "openly racist" in the comments.

"It ramps up around specific dates but is all year round. I did a sponsored post with a brand of nail polish and the comments section had several racist comments and [offensive slurs]. It's prevalent all the time."


For Rachael and Allira, it can also be just as hurtful to see ignorance from those you know and love posing with Australian flags on a day where First Nations people are often in mourning.

"When you're scrolling on social media, you know the day is coming and you're already seeing brands, friends you considered close, all talking about Australia Day. It's the same every year. You want to roll into a little ball, but you know deep down that you need to use your voice. The fight goes on every year," Rachael said on Fill My Cup.

As for Allira, they often feel a greater responsibility around this time of year to post more regularly about culture to educate people. But when doing so, she often has to close comments on her posts.

"It can be really hard. I even get DMs from people expecting me to educate them," Allira said. "I feel like we are having these conversations [so often] and by the time it gets to January 26, I don't want to be surrounded by that energy after giving so so much. It can be draining."


On January 26, Rachael will be working, and likely going to a march/protest. 

"Regardless of how uncomfortable they feel, allies should be going to those spaces and hearing what we have to say. For me, I think I'll be going into a little bubble and switching off a bit."

As for Allira, she's off camping and taking some time off social media.

"Look out for your First Nations friends, especially when it comes to the energy this day holds. To be able to have allies that are standing next to us on January 26 is so powerful."

Feature Image: Instagram @allira.potter.

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