Weathering social media

This blogger only discovered Charlotte Dawson whilst addicted to the Celebrity Apprentice. That show, thanks to the quality of the celebrity contestants chosen, wasn’t total excrement like the large proportion of reality television content can be. So it was shocking to hear on commercial talk back radio last night that the always self-deprecating Charlotte succumbed to the constant barrage of negativity that is sometimes part of the internet. Both a published author and documentary-maker, Dawson has not endured the easiest of lives and her openness has been refreshing.

Dave Penberthy, editor-in-chief of The Punch explains:

The fact that Charlotte Dawson has been hospitalised after sustaining a particularly putrid and distressing wave of online abuse should force a serious discussion about our air-headed enthusiasm for social media…

Those of us in the journalistic mainstream should also think harder about our attitude towards social media and online commentary. The scourge of the anonymous commenter has almost destroyed the concept of civil disagreement. At the website where I work we spend half our lives deleting comments or encouraging people to use their real names, but the tone still often makes you despair. It is the same across cyberspace.

Social media commentator Laurel Papworth has formulated some strategies on her blog based on this episode that may be helpful to keep in mind. For example, Laurel suggests:

It’s never OK to trash someone because they trashed someone else. But human nature is as human nature does. And if you are mean and bitchy, you’ll gather mean and bitchy people around you. Don a flak jacket and get on with it, or change. That simple.

Please be aware that some may consider Laurel’s advice controversial. Indeed, some of Laurel’s blog commentators suggest she is blaming the victim. It’s a sensitive issue.

Everyone reading this knows that the internet is inherently difficult to manage. Indeed, sometimes it feels like this ‘fake’ (inherently anti-social) network is a curse! When this anxiety or discomfort arises, ideally that is when one should take a break from the addictive pursuits of the internet. This blogger recommends asking the question: ‘Will anyone miss your absence for a week or two?’ Of course not.

When highly experienced bloggers cannot manage their blog properly, it is clear that developing a balance between censorship and allowing others to voice their opinion is impossible! It is interesting to also read the views of author John Birmingham. Superficially, blogging seems relatively safe compared to Twitter and Facebook. To be fair, this blogger is not qualified to comment on the latter platforms because they have never been utilized! Ignorance is bliss ain’t it?

Photos by Eva Rinaldi.

Feeling suicidal? Dangerously depressed? Please don’t ignore it. For urgent assistance please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service, SANE Australia, or beyondblue. Services providing assistance to young people include Kids Helpline,, and headspace.

What is an anxiety disorder?

By Lynne Harris, University of Sydney

Most of us are intimately familiar with anxiety. We experience it as we walk towards the room to where our job interview is held, when we stand up to give a speech at our best friend’s wedding, or when we find ourselves in conversation with someone we want to impress.

Anxiety is experienced physically as butterflies in the stomach, facial flushing, or trembling hands. It may affect your behaviour – for instance, when you find yourself looking at everything in the room except the person you want to communicate with. You may also recognise the voice of anxiety in your thoughts, when you say things to yourself such as “this is impossible”, “I can’t do this”, or “she/he will think I’m stupid, I won’t be able to think of anything to say”.

Anxiety can be uncomfortable, but it’s also an important motivator. A level of anxiety is important for performance, and it assists us by focusing our attention on the things that we need to achieve. When preparing for an examination or to compete in a sport, anxiety motivates us to study or to practise.

We’re all familiar with situations that cause anxiety. Lee Haywood

In 1908, researchers described the relationship between arousal and performance as an inverted “U” – where both too little arousal and too much arousal are detrimental to performance. But anxiety may not always have a detrimental effect on performance. Research suggests that people experiencing significant anxiety may do as well as those less anxious much of the time, although it takes a lot of effort to achieve the same outcome. This may help to explain why anxiety is so exhausting.

Different types of anxiety disorders

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) refers to chronic, persistent worry that is seen as excessive compared to the level of danger or threat involved. Many people worry when they know that their job is under threat because of organisational restructuring, but a person with GAD may worry about their job security, their own or their children’s safety, or their financial situation, without being able to identify any reason for their worry.

Panic disorder is characterised by fear of having an unexpected panic attack that may cause people to avoid places where panic attacks have occurred in the past. A panic attack is a sudden, intense feeling of fear and discomfort associated with physical sensations such as sweating, trembling, numbness, nausea and a racing heart that seems to come from nowhere. These symptoms are severe and frightening, and many people experiencing a panic attack think they’re having a heart attack or dying.

Social anxiety disorder occurs in social or performance situations where a person fears they will be evaluated. These fears, and associated difficulties with communication coupled with feelings of inferiority, create problems for people achieving their potential in educational and work settings, and in developing supportive social relationships.

Chris Scott

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a condition where people experience intrusive and distressing thoughts and images that they often respond to with ritualised behaviours aimed at reducing distress. A person with OCD may have recurrent thoughts about illness and contamination from contact with other people through minor occurrences, such as shaking hands or bumping into someone in a crowd. These events create intense anxiety relieved by compulsive washing of their hands, body, clothing, or cleaning their home. Apart from the severe distress that those with OCD experience, compulsive behaviours are very time consuming.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs after a traumatic experience such as experiencing or witnessing an assault or serious injury. For some people, the experience is vividly and repeatedly “relived”. People with PTSD generally avoid places, people, and topics that remind them of the trauma. They often experience a sense of emotional numbing and feel detached from their close friends and family.

While there are important differences between these conditions, what they have in common is the experience of excessive anxiety that causes serious distress and problems in important areas of life, including work, study, and relationships.

Many factors influence whether a particular person will experience an anxiety disorder. These include genetics, personality traits, exposure to trauma and current stressors, such as problems with work, family or relationships.

Prevalence and treatment

According to the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (NSMHW), about 20% of Australians will experience the symptoms of a diagnosable mental illness, most commonly an anxiety disorder (14.4%), in any 12-month period.

Anxiety disorders affect women more than men, and in the NSMHW almost 18% of women compared to 11% of men reported an anxiety disorder in the past 12 months. Over a lifetime, as many as 25% of people will experience an anxiety disorder.

Although anxiety disorders are both common and distressing, many people with anxiety disorders don’t seek professional help and may live with these distressing and impairing conditions for decades. But the good news is that anxiety disorders are treatable. Medication can provide some relief from the symptoms of anxiety. There is also a great deal of evidence to suggest that cognitive behaviour therapy (a psychological approach that targets the physical, behavioural and cognitive aspects of anxiety) is very effective in treating anxiety disorders.

If you are experiencing anxiety that’s holding you back, causing you distress and affecting your relationships then take the first step towards putting it behind you. Like all bullies, anxiety feeds on avoidance and melts away when you stand up and say “no more”.

Lynne Harris has received funding from the ARC. She is currently employed by the Australian College of Applied Psychology and is an honorary associate of the University of Sydney. She also practices as a clinical psychologist.

The Conversation

This article was originally published at
Read the original article.

Common sense disclaimer: The blog owner wishes to advise that neither The Conversation nor the author Dr Lynne Harris necessarily endorse the original content of

How to back burn like a pro

The air this morning smelled of smoke, with no windows open. OK, OK, considering that the offices of FM DXing utilize an abandoned eighteenth century dungeon, in any event there are no windows!

Seriously though, Fairfax Media reports how to back burn like a professional… 😉

The fire burned throughout the night and is expected to continue during the day, causing a large smoke hazard for areas surrounding the Enoggera Army Barracks, including Keperra, The Gap and Ashgrove.


Sunset in the shire: Lake MacDonald

Let’s examine Lake MacDonald in the Noosa shire, a short drive from Mount Tinbeerwah. The photographs were taken during a typical winter sunset.

This lake incorporates the Mary River Cod Park. Mary River Cod is indigenous to the lake. Sounds delicious.

As with most in-land waterways in this region, a SEQ Water sign lists a warning that the lake may contain Blue Green Algae, a marine weed.

The topography of Lake MacDonald and its surrounds is particularly suitable for radio reception. Evening jet scatter reception from the high powered Coffs Harbour FM stations was easily heard from a southerly azimuth.

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Sunset in the shire by FMDXing is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License.
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Yes, I’ve been to Bali too

Normally, this blog does not cover music but this is such a classic that it deserves recognition. Played last night on the Rock Show with Dave Gleeson. An opportune time to dust off the Bintang t-shirt.

You can’t impress me because I’ve been to Bali too.