IT IS a telling truth that when the issue of gay marriage came up in last night's political debate, that nasty little critter "the worm" went haywire in two different directions.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said he backed gay marriage.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said there were more important things to worry about right now.
Down went the worm - dramatically.
And that tells much about Australian politics - it suggests we are too stupid to be allowed to vote.
We have become a nation of political feel-gooders, looking for a political meme we can 'like' and that's about as deep as we get.
In truth, Mr Abbott's comment made perfect political sense. There are far more important issues facing Australia than a lobby group wanting to change the meaning of a word just because they feel left out.
But we are political Facebookers who are swayed by the loudest voice in the room and that makes us a danger to ourselves.
It is under these circumstances that bad things can happen.
Important things are happening in the world and in our own nation yet there are suggestions that some will vote purely on the gay marriage issue.
I actually read a Facebook post from a well-educated friend today that suggested that Mr Abbott won the debate but Mr Rudd backed gay marriage, so he'd call it a draw.
Really? Changing the meaning of the word marriage is the most important issue in Australia?
What about jobs, health, poverty, family breakdowns, youth crime and the like?
Throughout the debate, feel-good words spoken with charm by Mr Rudd pulled the appropriate spike in worm activity.
As one of the TV commentators pointed out, even when Mr Rudd said nothing the worm would swing in his favour just because he was speaking.
We have been conditioned to respond to catch-cries by our addiction to social media. We happily accept whatever makes us feel good about ourselves without ever considering the truth of what's put before us.
In truth, Bill Gates doesn't give away computers on Facebook - and in most cases getting a million likes won't save a baby from a rare flesh-eating disease.
What we need in the run-up to this election is serious thinking and solid analysis.
It's much harder to do than to like something, but it's important.
Wake up folks, our future is in our own hands.
John Parker is APN Australia Regional Media's online news editor. He has been a journalist in Australia for more than 30 years.
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