Cleaning The Meme Off Your Shoe

Prior to subscribing to Facebook, I had never heard the word “meme”. After I leave it, I’m rather hoping that I never hear it again.

I am not resistant to ideas – nor to clever expressions. I look to the history of literature for wit and witticisms. However, I am afraid when I am dealing with this giant of the social media world, that I am getting only a portion of what I might. Half-witticisms, if you will, from the keyboards of half-wits. Vast concepts trimmed to the tastes of the half-vast.

Most items are reasonably harmless in themselves – cats, dogs, and otters and the occasional horse doing funny things. I like the Liz Climo cartoons -as well as a number of other small, harmless drawings. I can stand sunrises and pictures of the sea. I always like airplane pictures.

But some memes are not witty, nor are they pleasant, useful, or fair. If they are attached to politics or religion they are frequently picked up by the least thoughtful of the community and plastered about with abandon. Would that they could be abandoned long before they actually hit the screen.

In today’s political climate, I also wonder if the clever meme has been invented and inserted onto the platform by the disinformation teams from each party – thence to be repeated by the parrots of the net. I don’t value being preached to or railed at by friends on the behalf of strangers.

The answer? Well, that may be mild, or drastic. I’ll experiment with July’s crop of scolding and see which option seems most appealing. I would regret losing the connectivity of some parts of the social media scene, but I would regret losing my happiness and temper even more.

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To Face Or Not To Face…

That is the question. Whether tis nobler in the mind to shut the thing down and avoid all contact for the obligatory 30-day period or to carry on and slog daily through targeted ads and random memes.

Shall I read everything that goes by and thereby risk viewing mere acquaintances as friends and real friends as mere idiots – based upon their Facebook habits?

Shall I be surgical about it – knifing out and completely expunging Facebook contacts who are a continuous source of annoyance – or shall I take the medicinal route and merely unfollow them. They’ll not be offended and I’ll not be annoyed…

Would I miss an important part of life by doing any of this? Was my life sad before Facebook…or is it sad now? Will it be sadder still, or recover some glee? Hard to say.

This is not because of recent hacking and similar shenanigans that have embarrassed the social platform. ( if anything could actually be said to embarrass an organisation with that much money ) but it is a result of the announcement that this electronic resident in my computer is going to start dealing in the crypto-currency business. That news is like an air attack warning klaxon would be to a U-boat crew – It makes me want to dive immediately and change course underwater.

I have committed myself to a hands-off month observing the thing during July. Then I’ll spend a further month with no contact at all – either Facebook or Instagram – and see what the psyche has to psay at the end of August.

I may sail on as before or I may clap the hatches shut and flood the tanks.

I Apologise To All Whom the Guild Has Failed To Offend

It has been a busy season and some stations on the social railway have remained necessarily unattended. People have had to embarrass or insult themselves in the absence of trained staff members. The mental porters have not be available to help with the psychological baggage and passengers have had to lump it themselves.

With such a busy world – and so many people wanting to be angry and offended – the job of the Backstabbers Guild of Australia might be thought to be idyllic. A victim at every turn – treachery by the carton – coups to be struck all day. This is the case, of course, but we in the BGA  have to plead the limits of inhumanity. We can do only so much to worsen your lives. You really must learn to make yourselves miserable when we are not available.

Let us take simple case of a person – say an ordinary man or woman who is a pillar of the community – and ask whether we really need to exercise the full fury of the Guild on them – with attendant expenses and time needed. Would it not be better in 58.3% of cases to enable them to make fools of themselves, and save our efforts for the exceptional? I think it would be.

To this end we will be sending out BGA Paks to a wide range of households in Australia this coming winter. Each Pak will contain banana peels, metal caltrops spikes, mercaptan oil in breakable containers, and a handy guide to public embarrassment that will enable the recipients to produce their own regrettable incidents. As an added incentive to use the kits the Guild will include three free Golden Tickets per 1000 kits that entitle the lucky winners to nominate someone to be publicly humiliated, with the full compendium of Guild fiendishness.

It looks like a good winter.

Nearly July, And I Am Going To Go Dry

Oh, I’m not going to stop drinking. Good Lord, don’t jump to ridiculous conclusions…No need for crazy talk.

I’m going to conduct the experiment on Facebook during July of not removing anything. No hiding ads or shares that people put up. No taking down rants and political propaganda.  No snoozing or unfollowing people. No unfriending. No untoward reactions to anything.*

It will be a strain. I will be forced to see, but pass by, the worst of the drivel that appears on screen. I will not post corrections of typos or humorous suggestions. I will not try to push people over the edge of madness.  The people I know teeter there much without any help from me.

I shall practice Will Roger’s advice about not passing up a chance to shut up – and I will see if I feel better or worse at the end of the month. I will either have been destroyed by the flood of folly or find myself completely unaffected by it. I can’t say right now which prospect is most appealing.

*  I may have filed one person away for 30 days, but that is to prevent homicide.

What Do You Do When The Hero Is A Zero?

We are in an age that presses awkward revelation upon us every day – secrets are laid bare for all to see about our favourite political and cultural figures.

Not a month passes when another icon is not clasted good and proper. And once this is done, they are blasted forevermore – or until someone else wants to sell books praising them at $ 39.95. That’s about the only chance of rehabilitation possible. Forgiveness is only offered when it makes for good press.

I don’t mind the blasting and clasting, as long as there is a shred of truth in it. I do get annoyed when the Russian, Iranian, Korean, or Nazi propaganda machines start to work and grind out endless reams of lies in an effort to swamp our consciousness. And I am rather puzzled as to what to do with the opposite to the blast and clast – if a noted figure is presented to us as a saint, martyr, or popular god – when normal observation would show us that they are not.

No names, no pack drill…but I would include nearly all the rock music, motion picture, and popular culture idols who overdosed on drugs and alcohol, committed suicide in bizarre fashion, or otherwise behaved like fools and morons. They may have been entertaining, if you are entertained by that sort of thing, but their demise seems to rather cancel out all the respect you once showed them. You need not hate them, but equally you need not worship them.

I would also include political idols who prove to be foul beyond recall. Of course you need to be able to judge whether they are so and you’ll need to do so from public record and private revelation, but do make such judgement on real court evidence – not tweets or scandal sheet bleats. A reliance upon hard court decisions and legally-verifiable published record is essential if we are not to be just a baying mob driven by other people’s agendas.

Can you make a moral judgement? You can if you know the difference between good and bad…and I credit most of my readers with being able to do that. If you do know and do judge, have the courage to stand by your convictions – at least while you have evidence that support them. If new evidence is presented and proved to be true, then you may freely change your mind. Just have the honesty to state your new opinion.

Note: I have made bad judgements in the past and need to revise them. I have also made good ones, and need to affirm them.

Marcel Was ‘Ere

In a previous post I declared that I was a friend of Art. And that I was a kindly and  nonjudgemental soul. That I would celebrate all I saw.

I lied.

You have only to place before me some of the most celebrated works of European artists to call forth from me the Canadian version of the Bronx cheer. It has bellowed forth through the art gallery of New South Wales and the NGV many times. This year Marcel Duchamp’s works evoked it. And it was not even because it was a paid exhibition – I’d have laughed it to scorn for free.

There’s Marcel’s pisser, of course…

And the edifying sight of a bus-load of earnest French  high school students worshipping it.

I was taken with the red wooden box in which Marcel established a portable gallery of his works, and with the revolving discs that made optical illusions when placed on a gramophone…and by the portable chess set he carried.

But I cannot bring the same sense of admiration – other than the sort of regard in which I hold P.T. Barnum – for the bicycle wheel, the ball of twine, or the urinal. He said that they were art and got people to agree with him – but people can agree on folly as readily as they can on wisdom.

Skulking Through the Gallery

As I shiftily made my way through the Art Gallery of New South Wales, disguised as a mild-mannered reporter from a great daily weblog column, I employed the arts of deception to steal valuable paintings.

Well, not steal, as such, but appropriate their essence. In other words, I took pictures with my digital camera of the stuff on the walls.

I like to think of it as an innocent act, but there are those who would accuse me of theft – of images, of intellectual copyright, of visual blood, sweat, and tears. Or turpentine, as the case might have been. Both views of the thing are correct in some sense. I am left ot defend myself as best I might.

Firstly, I don’t seek any recompense for taking the pictures, writing about them, or showing them to you. If you wish to slip money or pizza under my door that is another thing, but it doesn’t depend on my art gallery images. Indeed, whatever money was to be made or traded has already happened between the AGNSW and whoever supplied the canvases. Sometimes I suspect that there is swizzling going on but then I am suspicious about a tram ticket…

Secondly, I don’t treat the artworks with disrespect. I don’t touch, interfere, or deface them in the gallery. I don’t decry them here in the column – save when they are patent rubbish that anyone might see. For the most part I take pictures of things I admire, not hate. Here’s a picture that looks well, of a person who looks wonderful.

I’m not above sentiment. Here’s another delightful and peaceful image. Those who would decry the status of the woman and children pictured may do so – they are long gone and cannot be injured by current bad manners.

And I don’t even sniff with disdain at what seem to be flights of fantasy or self-indulgence – as long as there is a particle of entertainment or beauty in the image.

So don’t condemn me too harshly, nor be too protective of what you consider someone’s intellectual right to some arrangement of shapes and colours. If you wish to keep your artwork as a safe as dragon keeps its’ gold hoard, do not sell it to a public gallery and do not let me in the door.