If you asked me who my favourite Kath & Kim character was a few months ago, you can bet it wouldn’t have been Kath’s busybody neighbour, Mandy.
But while the country cracks down on social distancing and forced periods of self-isolation and quarantine, Australia has cracked down on dobbing people in, and Mandy is fast becoming one of the most relatable Australian characters on Netflix, lurking behind the fence with the cops on speed dial waiting to dob in our every wrong move.
In recent days, illegal gatherings with police issuing fines for non-compliance have dominated the news, with one such party allegedly taking place in the North West of Tasmania.
Just like any good old witch hunt, it started with a Facebook rumour, according to a bunch of people no doubt named Karen, who work at Stay at Home Mummy and attended the School of Hard Knocks. The story goes that a group of health care professionals had held a dinner party, which helped to spread Covid-19, essentially locking down the North West of the state. It summoned a collective, “Oh, Kim, you stewpid gurrrl” in our very best Kath Day-Knight voices.
Now, after initially repeating the unsubstantiated information, it’s since been clarified by old mate Brendan Murphy, the country’s Chief Medical Officer, that the gathering never happened. How can we blame him for being led astray? We are living in an age where so many people will hit share or flippantly comment on social media posts with limited proof. Looking at you, Pete Evans.
That’s not to rule out that another gathering might have occurred, as a group of individuals from the North East of Tasmania have since been charged, but it’s not suggested that they are the so-called health professionals from the north-west that were originally thrown under the Facebook bus.
The circulation of completely unfounded Corona content on Facebook is largely thanks to the Boomers, and my nan. But what is it about this particular age group that makes them so eager to believe that someone’s neighbour’s cousin’s friend’s aunt heard from her sister’s doctor that you can stop the spread of Coronavirus by spraying brandy down your throat? Happy to give it a go, but come on, Karen.
Join me in unpacking some of the widely spread untruths of Covid-19 on the link below:
Aside from false, and potentially dangerous information, the other thing this generation is becoming known for is … dobbing people in. And you know what? I’m joining them. If the childhood insult that dobbers wear nappies is in fact true, then throw me a 24-pack of Huggies, because, mate, if you’re doing the wrong thing by not following social distancing rules, breaking quarantine or at the very least licking your fingers while prying apart the plastic produce bag at Coles, I will not hesitate to rat you out.
It’s the neighbourhood sticky beak’s time to shine! At the time of writing, in the North West of Tasmania, there have been over 2400 checks on businesses and households required to be in quarantine, carried out by police and the SES. In Queensland, over $1m in fines have been issued to members of the public for non-compliance of social distancing laws. NSW has issued fines totalling $165,000. That’s a deposit on a cupboard in Bondi!
Law-abiding folk by majority, Dance Federation President Barry Fife said it best in Strictly Ballroom – “One bad egg can rot the whole barrel.” So while the majority of us are doing the right thing, the minority who are stepping out on social distancing are ruining it for the rest of us – and breeding a whole new generation of Mandys.
Take for example, my friend Allie, who dobbed in a man in his sixties – her own dad. “I was sick to death of ranting at him,” she says. “He travelled around Tasmania, then kept going from his boat to other boats down at the marina visiting his friends – which is no different from going to other peoples’ houses. He’s currently at a mate’s shack, not socially distancing. So I called and dobbed him in. I told them that I was his daughter, and I left my details. Just not on, I don’t care who you are!”
My cousin Amy lives opposite a family in quarantine, after they returned from interstate. The police are regularly checking in on them, as is Amy – from the comfort of her own couch. “I’ve been watching them,” she says. “A few days ago, they had visitors. I was going to call the cops, but I didn’t in the end – I just made sure to film it in case.” I’ll bet you did, Mands!
While it’s hard to gather exact figures on how many members of the community are dobbing people in, the amount of fines being issued nation-wide after reports of flaunting the rules are excessive, so we can only assume there’s an army of meddling Mandys, armed with binoculars. And while we would normally resent neighbourhood snoopers, if they’re doing even just a small part to keep Covid-19 from spreading further, then I say, let them dob. It’s easy to forget that these restrictions are in place for a reason, basically, so we don’t die. Nothing major.
So, Mandys of Australia, who you gonna call? Crime Stoppers.
Kate Fox is a writer, copy editor and content producer based in Hobart, Tasmania. Follow her on Twitter here.