Fools At My Fingertips

I used to have to go out to get my folly. The pub, the club, the workplace. It involved putting on clean clothes and making sure I had a handkerchief. This routine meant I was presentable, but the daily run of life involved a lot of travelling – it was hard on the car.

Now that I’m retired I need not spend petrol or patience in the rush hours and I can keep the same gooey handkerchief until it cannot be refolded…but the disadvantage is that I do not see people. So I miss out on my share of the follies of mankind.

Thank goodness for the internet fake news, and Facebook. ( Oops, I may have stuttered there, listing Facebook and fake news as separate items. In all conscience, I do believe them to be the same thing. ) By subscribing to the Zukerberg Broadcasting Corporation’s view of the world I can have a screen full of nonsense any time of the day or night. Much of it implicates my friends, and all of it is food for very little thought. It is the sort of entertainment that suggests the need for an S-bend in the internet router.

Oddly enough, the other sites I visit on the internet are not like this – I patronise cartoonists, photography sites, car forums, and YouTube videos that have to do with scale model building. Some of this material is crudely done, but none of it is untrue. Very little of it is bigoted or puerile. And I am not required to befriend anyone to benefit from it – or risk their wrath if I turn away.

I have made a little list for myself of people on my Facebook friends list for whom I would mourn if they were run down by a Swiss Post bus in the mountains. It is not all the people on my friends page by any means and every so often another name is pencilled out. I am not de-friending any more, but I have paid $ 869 to install an ALTP* filter in the incoming line. It seems value for money.

*  Avoid Like The Plague

 

 

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Throwing Up On Facebook

I have friends who throw up on Facebook. It is possible that they also throw up on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram – users of social media often have multiple receptacles available to them. This is a great convenience – they might not be at home or near a work computer when something overcomes them.

Of course, no one has ever solved the age-old mystery of where the tomatoes and sweet corn come from ( I didn’t eat either of those – I only had 14 pints of ale…) but that is rarely a problem on social media. The really peculiar thing is where people get the stuff they do ” share “…

Oh, wait. I may have given you the wrong impression. I wasn’t talking about emesis. I was talking about the racist, nationalist, sexist, and political material that is posted daily. The half thought half-thought-through that nevertheless  appears repeatedly. Talk about things coming up again…

I’d normally just step round the stuff if it was on the footpath in front of the kebab shop. As it is I can make it go away with two clicks of the computer mouse…and I am starting to realise that I can do that a lot these days. Suggested posts that are thinly veilled information fishing exercises are one thing that go out immediately. I know nothing and tell less.

Then the Trump posts. None of the people I know  who throw up anti-Trump memes have any connection to the United States, to the Presidency, or to Mr. Trump. Their shared memes and snarky comments are irrelevant. Gone.

Then the vagaries. I am bad at guessing games and worse when the games are psychological. I cannot imagine what some of the posters are on about – the only clear message that comes through is that there is no clear message. I can get that by turning the radio dial a quarter inch to the left off-station.

I do pause at cats and dogs. They can stay, as can hot rod cars and panda bears. I do also study semi-official posts that ask me to look out for a missing person – though I do wish that when a person is found that someone will also notify us of that.

And I am a sucker for domino races or improbable collections of mechanical operations that eventually turn on a popcorn maker. The engineering students with nothing to do for three days are always good for a laugh.

I Am Not A Monster

While I admit to being a senior citizen, model maker, and studio photographer – serious charges in themselves – I must deny the assertion that I am a monster of cruelty. I do not mock the afflicted nor harass the indigent. I am kind to animals, with the exception of mosquitos and cockroaches. I obey traffic signs and harsh words from the wife.

Thus, when I receive evidence that a friend has fallen for some sad internet hoax, I do not point the finger of scorn. I take pity upon them and remain silent. This is not the silence of collusion – it is commiseration. I, too, know what it is to be fooled by plausible tricksters…and I’ve lost money to them. The last thing I should want when I finally detect  fraud is to have to bear scorn as well as loss.

Friends – there are any number of trolling, fyshing, scamming productions that can come through your social media or through general searching on the net. Whenever you see something that is either too good or too bad to be true, it is just that. You do not need to fear, nor to react, to any of it. But if it helps to relieve a little of the tension, by all means open up the Snopes website and see if the thing that is troubling you has been debunked there. In most cases you will find that this is so.

Even with the most innocent of enquiries, answers can be harvested that will do you or someone else harm. The best thing to do is not give any answers on the net. Anything that you need to ask or answer can be dealt with between you and your physician, dentist, lawyer, religious adviser, or 6th grade home room school teacher. If it is really heavy-duty stuff you can call in a policeman or a magistrate. These are the individuals who have real power for good in your world. Depend upon them.

The internet has been a blessing for a lot of us – I mean, who wants to go out into the street looking for a cat on a rainy night when you can get a picture of one on Facebook? But it is a cursèd blessing, and the curse is the easy way it makes nonsense sound like truth.

Remember that if you forward this to ten of your friends, nine of them will wind the toilet paper the wrong way on the roll and the tenth will use bunched up newspaper…

” Based On Your Facebook Profile… “

We suggest that you bathe more regularly and stop calling for the Dalai Lama to be impeached. Despite what you say, he was born in Hawaii and has the hula moves to prove it.

We appear to have had all our Facebook information sold to people who want to sell us time-share tea tree multi-level sweepstakes tickets to help starving kittens. I, for one, am keen to participate. I’ve made that clear in the Facebook profile picture that shows me standing next to the howitzer and the vat of warm glue. It’s no mystery, and no-one need apologise for the transaction. Indeed, I have been getting a great deal of pleasure looking at the advertisements that want to hook me up with a Russian sheep.

I’m a little less sanguine about the side-bar that reports the news of the world. If I wanted news I’d buy a newspaper or a copy of Poor Richard’s Almanack. If I wanted science I’d read the Political Review Daily and if I wanted politics I’d read Scientific Zambian. No, what I want from a sidebar is the real stuff – opportunities for online gambling and pictures of leprechauns. I’m a big boy now –  make that gambling leprechauns in onesies.

I admire and respect Mr Zuckerberg for apologising for something that he got caught at…particularly as he owns all the money in the world anyway and he got a lot of it by doing exactly what he’s apologising for. What’s the bet that he’ll make money out of the apology…

I’m thinking of starting a social network up our street. I already know when the neighbours fight and what their favourite foods are – because they cook a lot of them with the lids off and frankly from some of the odours I don’t thing they have a painted wall left inside their houses….

We do not need to share things as we already share cats…or the cats share us. I have a lot of posts I’d like to suggest and a lot of people I’d like to be suggestive to.

I think that we need to chill out for a bit and just regard the social media like Facebook and the others as on-line versions of a Cirque de Soliel. It has plenty of colour, an unpronounceable name for each new show, and a French Canadian who can balance on a bucket. What more could one possibly want?

How To Increase Your Blog’s Traffic/Likes/Money/Power/Bloodlust

I have been receiving likes recently from a number of different sources:

a. People who wish to read what I write.

b. People who wish that I would like what they write.

c. People who wish I would send them money to read about how to get money from other people.

d. People who have impossible names but dwell in a place called outlook.com.

I am pleased and flattered to receive communications from the first group. Their praise, even if it is only a click on the computer keyboard, is a kindly act and I thank them for it. Their joy is one of the reasons I write these columns daily.

The second group is also welcome – because many of them write about interesting things and some of them write well. The ones who combine those two features are on my little reading list. I’m afraid I do not do all that well with poetry and certainly don’t pursue political blogs very far, but I do give everyone a read at least once to see if I will enjoy going back.

The third group really flag themselves as soon as you see their summaries on the ‘ like ‘ email. If the answer to getting more money was to ask people to send you more money…well I could do that unbidden. I don’t do so for a number of reasons – some of them practical and some of them moral.

It may help this group to know that I write for the pleasure of exercising memory and developing thought. A well-crafted essay launched is instant reward, whether or not it is subsequently praised by others.

The fourth set of people are not people as such – they are probably a robotic scam program that is manipulating statistics for some purpose. I delete them from the emails and dismiss them from my mind. Presumably the WordPress people will get on top of this flood of nonsense eventually and it will dry up.

I should welcome more people reading my essays. I refuse to do circus tricks to try to produce this result. Though I wouldn’t mind a pair of clown shoes or a some spangled tights…

Mary O’Nette

I am deriving a great deal of pleasure and interest through my use of social media – but then you have to remember that I also used to have a good time shooting gophers on my Uncle Jude’s farm in Montana.

In my defence then, I was young and uncaring – in my defence now, I have grown older…

My current savage amusement is watching people jerk, bounce, and twist to the impact of memes – the preferred ammunition of the smarmy and righteous. The spectacle is made all the more enjoyable by the realisation that the victims are people of intelligence -and that in most cases they are willing targets. They stand up on the psychological parapet and try to attract the snipers.

Do you want someone to think the way you do? Meme them.

Want them to condemn something for your benefit?  Hand them a loaded meme and slip the safety off.

Want to look smarter, cooler, prettier, or finer than you really are? Meme your way to it. No-one will dare question you if they are looking down the barrel of a meme.

And the best part is you can make the victims think that they are all unique – and all in exactly the same way. One meme will fit all.

Isn’t the internet wonderful? Share this on Facebook and Twitter.

Am I A Clubman? – Part Five

The last question that you need to ask yourself is the first question you should ask. If you don’t know the answer you can call a friend. If you haven’t got any friends, you have your answer already.

Some people are born clubmen or clubwomen. They are loud, make friends easily, are unruffled, take hearty exercise, eat breakfast, produce bowel movements every day ( frequently at the same time…), and are kind to animals. They can stand for office, scrutiny, the flag, or any other thing that the club needs. They are extroverts. indefatigable, ineffable, and impossible to have anything to do with. You’re soaking in one now…

Other folks are born to be recluses – hermits – loners – individuals  – eccentrics – etc. They are generally distinguishable by the simplest senses – silent to the hearing, invisible to the eye, clammy to the touch, and slightly odorous. No-one has as yet tasted one, and no-one is about to start…

And there’s a lot of people in between. Most of us have aspects of each of these types within if we would only see and admit to them. And most of us can choose a club or organisation to suit our real personality. It might not be a fashionable or distinguished society we move in, but if we find genuine correspondence in a group – that is the one we should join. Here’s a few checkpoints for you when trying to match yourself to others:

a. DO I ENJOY LOUD NOISE? If yes, take up shooting. If no, take up reading. Read about shooting if need be.

b. Do I enjoy working with my hands? If yes, carpentry, model making, and any number of crafting clubs are ready for you. If no, run out on a field and hit a ball somewhere with something.

c. Do I enjoy thinking? Yes? Literary and intellectual clubs, political parties, business clubs call. No? Singing and drinking, eating and dancing are for you, and there are people who will help you do it.

d. Am I artistic? Yes? Go to the art store, spend a week’s wage, take the resultant small paper bag to an art society, and ask for help. No? Gardening’s for you – Nature will make what you cannot, and you can eat some of it.

e. Am I an opinionated smart-arse who wants to best everyone in argument? Yes? Become a member of a debating team or get your own secret identity as a troll on internet forums. No? Have you thought of joining a religious order? Or the Asian version…a religious suggestion?

f. Do I love sports? If the answer is yes, join a sports club. If the answer is no, get a competent surgeon to tear your cruciate ligament for you. The cost of the year’s membership to the sporting club or the operation will be about the same and the hospital is quieter than the club rooms.