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Facebook as panopticon

No-one knows about the time me and my pimply mates raided our parents’ liquor cabinets and made what turned out to be Piña Spewada cocktails.
And the night I wore a black plastic garbage bag teamed with a bevy of studded belts to the local Blue Light disco?
Never happened. (Though if it had, my 7.34pm wardrobe [...]

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Slut shaming and safe sexting

Safe sex used to be simple. Step A: take one vending machine prophylactic. Step B: use it.
These days, everything is much more complicated. These days, protecting yourself from “going viral” may also involve checking for hidden webcams and erasing your ex-partner’s flash drive.
Most of Australia is now familiar with the case of the 18-year-old Australian [...]

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Are we getting nastier or is our nastiness simply getting more Google-able?

Like kitsch, schnauzer and – to a lesser extent – gemütlichkeit*, schadenfreude is one of those excitingly guttural expressions that has hitchhiked its way from Germany into English-speaking countries such as Australia.
The loanword is a combination of Schaden (harm) and freude (joy), and describes pleasure taken in other people’s misfortunes.
It’s a phenomenon which can be [...]

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Recreational nastiness sets internet freedom in flames

The internet is emerging as one of the big heroes of the pro-democracy, anti-despot movement in the Middle East. It’s regarded as being right up there with that courageous Muammar Gaddafi impersonator who has been suggesting absent members of the Libyan army are simply retreating to rest and relax.
Thanks to the cybersphere, Arabic members of generation [...]

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PhDs versus childbirth

People often say that writing a PhD is like giving birth to a baby. Having given both these projects a whirl in recent years, I’ve decided that some parts of the analogy are more apt than others.
Like making a new human, enrolling in a Doctor of Philosophy program often seems like a good [...]

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The name game

FOR the blokey trio at the centre of the John Cusack film Hot Tub Time Machine, the only thing more terrifying than becoming a homosexual is becoming a “hyphenate”, the new Godzilla of the “bromantic” comedy.
Let me explain. (And while the usual conventions would call for a plot spoiler alert now, that would imply this [...]

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The case for civilised behaviour in a barbarous world

THE earth is having hot flushes, terrorists are using fertiliser to blow up trains, and petrol now comes with carat ratings. In times like these, agonising about which fork to use with fish seems like the height of indulgence.
Yet good manners — saying “no, please, after you” at the dinner party of global citizenship — [...]

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