Goodbye, 'G'day mate'
I’m tired of cringing every time I say hello to my friends. I don’t want to invoke global stereotypes every time I pick up the phone.
“G’day mate” has become such marketable, mainstream slang that it means so much more than hello.
It means everything that people think Australia is, but isn’t: It’s “Crocodile Dundee,” kangaroos and fluffy koala souvenirs.
Worst thing is, Australians actually enjoy it. Decibels increase when we mutter these words; our Australian drawl takes on that extra, isolated twang.
As one, we prove we’re different.
In our eternal search for a national identity, we settle for what’s easy: what people think of us, rather than true self-discovery.
We say “G’day mate” with collective pride -- although we’re a bunch of cultural dimwits, the world really does love us.
We get the attention of the globe, which compensates for a daily regression into 1950s patriotism, and for young pride having no wisdom.
But just because people like what we say -- or the way we say it -- does it mean we’re going to say it for the rest of our lives?
Do we have to be such children?
It’s not that Australian slang doesn’t have its good parts: “She’ll be right, mate” and “No worries, mate,” indicate that we’re not a “pack of whingers,” but possess a national stoicism.
Our adherence to “tall poppy syndrome” to “keep the bastards honest” speaks of our quest for egalitarianism.
These words are part of our vernacular that mean something -- we are not slaves to them, as we would be without them.
But if you can’t get past hello, it’s not going to be a deep conversation.
So I don’t want to pick up a tea mug or wear a T-shirt with “G’day mate” emblazoned all over it. As I said, I’m over it.
I don’t want to live in the cages of common, old-fashioned culture, where every meeting is initially some pathetic, repetive national squeak.
There’s so much bloody more to this country than a greeting label.
You can tell me to “bugger off,” that I’m being “un-Australian,” that I’m “off my rocker,” or that I’m “a few stubbies short of a six-pack.”
You can say that it’s a “gnarly” word that makes you “proudly Australian.”
Go for it, mate -- call me a "wowser" -- see if I care.
I don’t even care if the world’s up in arms -- whether the Americans complain that their cute Aussie mates have revolted against the only thing they know about us, or whether the British fear that we actually are evolving.
The “G’day mate” phenomenon is exhausting. It’ll take “real action” to “move Australia forward,” and it has to start now.
“G’day mate” leans so much toward cheapening and degrading ourselves; it doesn’t even mean “good day” anymore.
In that case, it can only mean one thing: Goodbye, “G’day mate.”