No More Mr. Nice Guy

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There’s no point beating about the bushy bits – Facebook censors pictures anyway. And two wrongs don’t make a right, but three can actually do it. Or to put it another way…

The rise of social media parallels the rise of social disease, but without the initial squelchy fun bit. It just leaps straight to the bit with the swelling and discharge. And I should not be surprised if it drops off in the end…the interest in social media, I mean. What did you think I meant? I put it down to an unhealthy diet made up chiefly of quizzes designed to see if I am gullible enough to buy time-share apartments in Caiguna or porcelain copies of Lassie. It is a waste of time on the part of the Facebook to ask – of course I will.

The strongest shock one gets from social media, apart from a leakage in the electrical power supply, is the crass folly that is presented on it and the ready acceptance with which one’s companions of the screen embrace it. We have been presented with virtual versions of cesspools, and asked to swim backstroke. Better, asked to swim for Australia. One can only wonder what the medals will be made of…

Had we been presented with this stuff in 1960 we would have laughed and thrown it away. The 70’s would have had no place for it. But now – 50 years onwards – we eagerly send sums of money to unknown destinations for the chance to move phosphor dots around a screen. The sums are not large. but they are not virtual – someone is getting real money for the privilege of playing with cartoons on a telephone screen. To a person who paid 10¢ max for comic books in 1957 and traded them for years for nothing, the idea of paying today’s prices is absurd.

We are told that this is the information age and there is an information economy in which games and social media form a large part of the earning power. The only information that seems to be new is that the pressure of population has increased the number of suckers born every minute and also the number born to take them. Mr. Barnum would enjoy the sight, but I fear the pace might leave him frantic.

Still, there is no wind so ill that it does not blow comfort somewhere. My own chosen medium is printed words and illustrations. As this has fallen by the wayside in favour of phosphor dots there is less competition for reading matter. I can sometimes find and afford books that would have been beyond me – when they were desired by more people, they commanded a higher price. I do not think I can ever read out the library, let alone the world, and so I can leave hoi polloi to the screen and the app. Do not be offended if I speak of hoi polloi – no-one can be commoner than I when I choose.

Heading Image: The cultural spirit of the New York Banner made manifest upon a Facebook page. Ellsworth Toohey would have been proud.

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