From the desk of Roland Rocchiccioli – 14 January

January 14, 2024 BY

Rally to the cause: The Soviet Union propaganda statue was near to where I lived in Moscow. It never failed to spark my curiosity. Photo: SUPPLIED

Increasingly, it is becoming more difficult to have a civil, vigorous conversation without becoming embroiled in accusations of disrespect, discrimination, racial vilification, and generally offending, the other party.


ERRONEOUSLY, it is categorised as politically incorrect!

Whatever happened to the freedom to express a point of view; to argue the toss; to question another person’s competency; to demand a satisfactory explanation; to retort acerbically; to put someone back-in-their-place; and the right to speak with a superior to lodge a complaint at a professional impasse?

The immediate reaction to any comment deemed sharp; or emphasising inadequacy; vaguely questioning ability to perform the task; or probing the depth of an intellectual dexterity, is met with instantaneous emotional outrage. There is a workplace propensity for refusing any request which might require an effort above-and-beyond, or deviates from the monkey-on-a-stick reply.

The predisposition to the malaise is rampant in sections of government and municipal employment. There is an implacable determination to do as little as possible, for as long as possible, and to expect as much as possible in return.

The degree of stress which results from working in a call-centre notwithstanding, telephone operators are particularly susceptible to taking-the-hump. It needs little for the barely concealed animus to bubble to the surface. There is a second-natured alacrity with which they complain of perceived ‘attitude’. They are, it seems, in constant and hopeful anticipation of an opportunity to over-react and disconnect the call.

I retaliated when an operator did not recognise the name of the company’s CEO, insisting there was no such employee. Her heavy accent caused me to ask if she was located outside of Australia. She bleated – with Olympian speed, “You are discriminating against me.” Simply, untrue. It was her tone, coupled with a flaccid intellect, which caused me to rail. Her refusal to listen was galling. I insisted she stopped looking for dark shadows where there are none. She ended the call. The narrative was not running in her favour.

There is a marked difference between speaking the language – reading, writing, understanding the humour – and having a ‘working knowledge’. Many Filipino operators do not speak the language, as is self-evidenced with their rote-like replies to basic questions. A straight-forward yes/no answer turns into a robotic diatribe. It is too irritating. Ludicrously, situational annoyance is seen as ‘disrespecting’ the other party! Monosyllabic conversations do not lead to satisfactory resolutions.

Manners are rejected as weakness. Correct form has been dismantled and replaced with pig-ignorance, and a lack of civility. Defence is the favoured and permanent emotional setting. There is a

prevailing ethos of persistent anger, disgruntlement, lack of willing, and determined bloody-mindedness. Too much time is spent listening to the intent and not the content.

Political correctness is a ruse. I know how to behave, and I am possessed of neither the wit nor the willing to alter my standards, which serve me well. I know what I should, or should not, say. I have made few social faux pas in my time. I have an innate sense of propriety. Importantly, I am highly attuned to the sensitivities and sensibilities of others.

Irrefutably, the aggregate has been decidedly imbalanced against sections of our society; notwithstanding, I refuse to allow those whom I have never met, and for whom I have little, or no, regard, to shape or define any part of my life. Political correctness is agitprop; emotional camouflage. I will not be convinced otherwise.

Your ‘no’ does not carry more weight than my ‘yes’.

Roland can be contacted via [email protected].