YOU’VE probably never met a toothpaste that was not recommended by four out of five dentists, but have you ever seen the study proving more than five dentists were consulted, or that four weren’t the CEO’s grandparents.
Among such scientifically unimpeachable company is new “research” by insurance provider Budget Direct claiming humble Fremantle shares with Mackay QLD the dubious honour of being Australia’s most stressful city to drive in.
After navigating a traffic jam of weighty topics such as rising rates of drivers “quivering” in rage, the inquisitive reader must scroll past cutesy graphics of taxis with steam coming out of their ears to find the bare minimum “methodology”, a laudable hundred-word concession to the weary readers’ already sub-sea level expectations of basic corporate transparency.
The reader is unapologetically informed the study has taken its data from Twitter posts by drivers, which are rated for “stress”.
The threshold for inclusion was a piddling eight Tweeters; an almost statistically significant sample for a town with a population of nine, but unfortunately for Budget Direct, Cooladdi QLD, clocks in at a whopping 16 as Australia’s smallest.
Fortunately, our mates at Budget Direct don’t have a monopoly on bullshit studies, so the Chook decided to conduct its own.
First, we strolled the coop perimeter asking passersby’s about the state of traffic, dodging the odd barrelling Commodore with middle fingers flapping out every window and f-bombs hurled like rotten tomatoes.
Of the 12 locals accosted, only one had anything negative to say about Freo’s traffic, and after a bit of friendly conversation, he confessed to having recently relocated from the NT.
Emboldened by the conviviality of our neighbours, the Chook took to Instagram to ask the following: are road conditions aggravating here, or is it no different to anywhere else? Of our 19 kind responders, only 21 per cent took issue with the traffic.
Drunk on neighbourly esprit de corps, we then made a fatal error in judgement; consult Freo Massive.
It’s with good reason those two words – Freo Massive – ring in the ears like the soundtrack to the knife reveal in Psycho.
A quick post asking people to share examples of outsiders smack-talking Freo to little effect sparked a dumpster fire that raged for a mere two hours before commenting was disabled.
From the midst of the vat of vitriol, we questioned whether road rage was the type of rage to worry about.
Rather, it seems town-trolling insurance companies and neighbourly haters are a far bigger bother.
We tossed and turned in the henhouse, asking why people would want to spend the precious and infinitely mysterious eye blink we’re allocated on this planet, sitting alone in their lairs, taking cheap shots at a place they have decided – at no small financial sacrifice – to call home.
In the words of a feathered friend: “You could post in FM about helping kids with cancer and they’d still find a way to make you embarrassed to call yourself the same species.”
At the core of Facebook assholery and Budget Direct’s scientifically laughable study (and they’re far from a stand-alone in this field) is a fundamental lack of accountability, evidenced by the online debates sparked by the company’s original press release.
This was confirmed by the hours the Chook spent on the phone trying to get in touch with a media rep from Budget Direct, only to be dismissed after just two minutes on hold by a PR staffer who “was unable to get you the data on how big the Fremantle sample size was”.
The Chook says: Lighthearted as we’ve tried to be, at the heart of this story is a serious issue: the tsunami of junk surveys which are nothing more than a PR firm’s brainfart to get their client’s name published somewhere – and they don’t care if it’s in our pages or Facebook, where Budget’s dubious skidmark did the rounds for a while. Journalists are trained to spot this rubbish and send it where it belongs, but who curates social media – who’s checking that what you’re clicking on isn’t simply an ad dressed up to incite the keyboard warriors and keep some company’s name in lights? It’s depressing
to watch the steady decline in newsrooms across Australia at the same time as PR companies are popping up left and right. There’s inequity left and right and enormous challenges facing this country; a time when good journalism is needed more than ever. You can help. Don’t waste your time on this manufactured ‘news’, support reliable, trustworthy legacy media outfits … like us.
by CARSON BODIE