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An Open Letter to the Cool Kids from a “Broken”

Dear Cool Kids

This is a letter from all the tweeps and bloggers you describe as ‘brokens’. I know how much you hate open letters so I chose this form of communication particularly to piss you off. Not that I have to try very hard to piss you off because clearly us ‘brokens’ piss you off just by our very existence.

Before I go on, I should explain this school-yard scenario to those unfamiliar.

My first experience of being called a ‘broken’ was this exchange on Twitter after I posted an article I wrote on the Labor Herald:

Dragonista TweetIf this looks a bit like one writer making herself feel good by putting down another, that’s because it is. This is Paula Matthewson (@Drag0nista) laughing behind my back in the locker room because I’m not wearing trendy enough clothes. Or I care too much about the things I write about. Or I don’t earn money for writing. Or something. Note that since Paula is one of the meaner of the Cool Kids, she is being especially nasty-cool by misspelling broken as ‘broekens’. I’m guessing that’s because I’m extra-broken.

At the time, I was so uncool, I didn’t even know what language this Cool Kid was speaking, so I just assumed Paula had mis-typed some rude put-down and moved on. But then over the last week, I’ve seen the phrase ‘brokens’ popping up all over Twitter and it’s become a bit of a pile-on bully fest of the Cool Kids asserting their authority over those who dare use social media and blogging to write about topics the Cool Kids deem to be laughably uncool.

One of my favourite Tweeps, aptly named @geeksrulz, who, like me, comes from the clan of broken, has laid out the whole story eloquently here. The reason it’s funny he’s done it Buzzfeed style is because Mark Di Stefano, political reporter from Buzzfeed, one of the chief Cool Kids, ignited much of the ‘broken’ sledging with this tweet:

Mark Di Stefano tweet

If you’re a little confused by now about how Mark Di Stefano, who is ridiculed by the Coolest of the Cool Kids in the mainstream media, came to be chief bully-boy, you only have to remember back to year 9 when the kid that was picked on the most had a growth spurt over Summer and went to the gym and got muscly and came back as the bully-from-hell due to his misguided belief that to stop being bullied one must become a bully.

Leaving out of Mark’s list ‘Schapelle truthers’, which was only put in there for extra-ridicule, it should beggar belief that a so-called political journalist, albeit using a new form of media in Buzzfeed list form, but journalist nevertheless, would laugh at people who write about, discuss and generally care about newsworthy stories such as Ashbygate and the NBN story from this week, which independent news site New Matilda expertly delivered.

What Mark is basically saying on behalf of the Cool Kids, is that stories about a plot to topple a government and to destroy the career of an elected MP and Speaker, and another story about our public broadcaster directing a tech journalist not to publish a piece critical of a potential future Liberal government’s NBN policy due to political pressure, is not the type of journalism that proper journalists like him are interested in. And so when the journalistic void this attitude creates is filled by independent writers, and discussed by independent voices on social media, like paying out the kids who are nerdy enough to do their maths homework and actually care about passing high-school, there is something wrong with the void-filling brokens. Sadly this is not unbelievable because it’s oh so typical of the way our media operates.

The good news for the brokens, and the bad news for the Cool Kids, is the brokens are going to be on the right side of history in this Twitter-feud. I don’t just mean that we’re on the right side of history because anyone who is working in the public interest, whether for money or just because they can, is doing the right thing. I also mean that we brokens are the Uber drivers taking over the taxi industry because the taxi drivers have been offering a bad service with poor air-conditioning and not letting us choose the radio station for too long. Consumers of media don’t have to put up with taxi drivers who don’t turn up because there are us brokens offering them the information they need, disseminated for free over the internet and accessible by everyone.

Remember when the Geek from highschool turned up at the 10 year reunion with a better career than the Cool Kids who used to laugh at her behind the bike sheds? Laugh all you like Cool Kids. It’s water off a duck’s back to us brokens. Never has it been so cool to be so broken.

Yours sincerely.
Victoria Rollison


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  1. Sen Nearly Ile

    Presumably, Victoria, you have defeated Akama and are now the undisputed leader of the Ashtongue Deathsworn brokens. They are supposedly allied to Illian Stormrage and are a present danger to all races in the Outlands.
    Hard to disagree with that Victoria and as farseer nobundo I bow to you and vow to help you destroy the enemy

  2. corvus boreus

    I am confused. Is it ‘brokens’ or ‘broekens’?
    The latter seems to be a breed of skinny jeans.

  3. John Kelly

    I think you become a ‘broken’ when you find an interest in life that adds meaning to an otherwise, “go with the flow” existence that you never felt comfortable with and wanted to drop in the middle of Port Phillip Bay.

  4. Bradley Wills

    “Broeken/Broken is a cool tag. Clearly the “cool kids” simply aren’t or were never cool to begin with, the “in” crowd wouldn’t understand cool and confuse it with shallow popularism, they are worshipers of Kardashianism which is as far from cool as anyone could ever be 😛

  5. totaram

    John Kelly: Very good! In fact, a very deep and meaningful remark.

  6. Geoffrey Howard

    I think the broken are actually the mended. I remember the cool mob when I was young and the damage they could do with a mind unhindered by empathy. The pen is far more equal than the sword though and I will side with the mended

  7. silkworm

    Matthewson is a Tory. She was media advisor to John Howard in the early 1990s.

  8. ginnylowndes

    I am going to have to stop reading various things if they keep mentioning Jews? Boongs? Poofters? Slutty single parents? Reffos? Commos? Or am I going to stop reading various opinions because the elite have thought of more claptrap to sneer at lower class Others. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  9. Kaye Lee

    Having laboured through the linked twitter exchange, I am glad I am not part of that world. As for labels like “brokens”, yawn it off. Who gives a stuff what label they pin on you, what judgement they make of you? You do not need their approbation. The whole twitter thing seems like playground groupings to me. When contributions are limited to a letter count, don’t expect informed discussion.

  10. Douglas Pye

    … me too Kaye Lee ! …communication reduced to ” slogans ” reminds me of the military ….. ” ….. troops for the use of ” … 🙂 …..

  11. Geoffrey Howard

    Well said Kaye lee

  12. silkworm

    Just look at the two groups targeted for name-calling: those concerned with NBN/Nick Ross’ dismissal, and those concerned with Ashbygate. These are the two issues giving the greatest grief to the government at the moment. This name-calling is really a desperate attempt to defend the government against these looming scandals. Both of these issues is about to blow up in the government’s face.

  13. cornlegend

    I hadn’t come across that term before but I admit to being “broken ”
    Like one on Yahoo 7 explained broken =scarred for life – broken= something happened in a person’s life to break their spirit.
    The good news for all the younger ones out there is that it is treatable , but can be a communicable disease
    As an example, When Howard got elected I caught “broken” with all its symptoms , crushed spirit , scarred by the LNP experience .
    Then I got the cure , that cure being Kevin 07
    Immediately the cool kids all caught “broken” and their symptoms increased as Kev saved us from the GFC etc
    Now I might have caught “broken” again with Abbott and Mal , but I have a feeling when I spread the disease back to the cool kids it will be so bad the bastards will need an anti venom

  14. Kaye Lee

    You can bend but never break me
    Cause it only serves to make me
    More determined to achieve my final goal
    And I come back even stronger
    Not a novice any longer
    Cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul

  15. cornlegend

    I think I’ve heard you roar
    In numbers to big to ignore
    ,{“} {“}*~~

  16. Michael Taylor

    Paula was going to be a writer on The AIMN when we first started up, but withdrew when she discovered we leaned to the left.

  17. Sunday

    I’ve never been through the University world though; I am now starting to understand some of it’s culture. These clever cool cats have buzzwords and slogans for everything. The slogans they invent are usually made by small minds whom really are so afraid of the complexities of life; they cleverly departmentalize everything so they can handle and simplify their lives. Obviously they are well educated though emotionally; their needs have not been met.

  18. mark delmege

    Gomez: He has my father’s eyes.
    Morticia: Gomez, take those out of his mouth.

  19. Russ

    It reminds me of the Top Gear team putting pictures of cars on their “Cool Wall”. I guess that “brokens” are what Jeremy Clarkson would have deemed “seriously uncool”. At least he tried to explain his reasoning – I presume Mark Di Stefano has some sort of mystical power conferred on him by virtue of writing for someone like Murdoch to be able to classify things this way?

  20. Geoff Andrews

    Like many of the above respondents above, I didn’t know what a “broken” was, which make me a broken, naturally. And doesn’t the “broeken” variation give the sneer so much more authority even though it was probably coined by some poor bastard who dropped out of spelling after Garde 4.
    I agree with silkworm’s explanation for its origin – it is an invention of the right to divert attention away from the current train smash and to provide a weapon for the “subs”: their subnormal keyboard warriors; and probably originated in the dirty tricks room of Empty’s spin doctors. The right are good at labelling their oppenents with pejorative terms: “chardonay set”, “chattering class”, “rent-a-crowd”, etc.
    When I read this blog, I was immediately reminded of a play that would have been studied by the aforesaid MT’s spin doctors: “Rabbit” by David Foxton. This is a very popular play in high schools around Australia (or was, 10 years ago).
    A synopsis reads:

    “This perceptive play for young adults, set ten years after the bomb, portrays with frightening clarity the destruction of human character as social standards are lost in a struggle for power and survival. In the ruins of an abandoned building fifteen teenage survivors struggle to make sense of the desolation. Ironically, they begin to repeat their parents’ mistakes. The play ends with a thought provoking clash of personalities.”

    Isolation has forced the characters to invent their own form of pidgin english. People seeking shelter from the devastation are rejected and called “otheruns” and (I think) they have a sympathetic name for their own group.

  21. Steve Laing

    I might be entirely wrong, but I’m guessing, that the term has been created by those who have an attention span of 15 minutes or less, and refers to those of us who keep on top of a story, and keeping it in the public domain, till the full truth is finally out. To them we are verily broken records.

    And given the superior quality of the vinyl product over that of downloaded music, even with the occasional jump, I’m not unhappy with that moniker.

  22. Sunday

    Geoff Andrews You piece would sound better if you called the right; The Conservative, Undemocratic, UN-egalitarian, Pro Big business Un Australian Party. It’s less black vrs White.

  23. Victoria Rollison

    I totally agree with you Kaye except to say that the Twitter world is just a microism of the media as a whole. When writers like us are treated as ‘nothings’ on Twitter, it’s representative of how we are treated as independent voices in all media. Ignore at your peril!

  24. Kaye Lee

    They offer no peril to me nor, I suspect, to you. We share our thoughts about information we collect. Interesting discussions often follow. If 10,000 (and often many more) people read our articles it all helps to get the conversation going. The media are welcome to ignore me or to criticise if they so choose. It matters not.

  25. Anon E Mouse

    Broken – as in broken free – broken free from the mind control of the MSM murdochracy?

    Seems to me the KoolAid kids are getting worried by the free thinkers who have broken the shackles and are engaging in free thought and honest journalistic content.

    It is a great compliment to be hassled by the likes of dragonista (die hard right whinger), because it means she reads your work and feels somewhat threatened by it.

    I wonder what they put in their KoolAide before thinking up their schoolyard comments.

    Long live those who are free of thought – the ‘brokens’.

  26. Trish Corry

    Excellent article as always Victoria. I read GeekRulz article as well and so many tweeters were commenting that broken is about mental illness. My understanding of broken as a noun, “The Brokens” rather than as an adjective “I’m a broken woman” is: those from the lowest class in society. Untouchables (as in the caste system in India). This is who “The Broken” are in World or Warcraft, as per Sen Nearly lle’s comment – a sub-species who are not quite whole as the ‘pure’ species. So this word could also be taken as brokens are a sub-species of human.

    That aside, in terms of the in-group and out-group behaviour depicted in your article with the cool kids and nerds; I would like to leave you with a little saying I made this up for some particular people many years ago, who were having a hard time. I tried to impress on them that not everyone has to be in the ‘in-group’ (to put this in context – this is after explaining how social justice uprisings and revolutions have changed the world).

    “If all the leaders where in the “in-group” there would never be a leader of a revolution”

    I also should mention my favourite line from Midnight Oil’s Power and the passion: “Better to die on your feet than live on your knees”

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