” Aren’t You Afraid That Someone Will be Offended…? “

On the contrary, my dear.

I am afraid that no-one will be offended. Because if that is the case I have failed to read the social currents and have cast my bait onto a lee shore. All my effort is in danger of being disregarded. I have done my best work and it is languishing…

This is 2019. We’re in the Offended Zone. Everything we say can be taken amiss. Oops, sorry…that should be taken aMs…no, aperson…

We may be the least controversial, kindest, and blandest of creatures but we are still bound to be guilty in someone’s eyes. And with the internet it will not only be their eyes that condemn us – they’ll be able to post no end of condemnatory essays about us. We’ll be memed to death, if we’re lucky. The best outcome for most of the witch hunting will be a quick stake and bundle of blazing sticks.

Now I’m a hunted man. Oops, I’ve just admitted that I’m a man and written the word ” hunt “. I can hear the convoy of activists starting their engines and heading for me.

Is there no end to the torture? Can I never please everyone?

Well, no. No, I can’t. I’ll offend someone by being a Jew and someone else by writing Jew instead of jewish. I’ll anger someone by being male and someone else by doing it since 1948. I will make one section of the country angry by being healthy and another section by writing. Lord God, don’t let us consider what I’m about to cook for dinner…the criticism would be all too much.

So.

So what do I do? Do I jink and dodge like a Halifax bomber whenever someone attacks my tail or do I just sail along and shoot at them with the quad .30’s? Do I try to buy the admiration and approval of people who are determined to neither admire or approve? Or do I eat my dinner, drink my toddy, and brush my teeth before bedtime as I have for 71 years – bidding defiance to politics, trends, and rituals of others?

Ask me tomorrow, it’s just about dinner time.

 

 

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A Quarter Of The Way Through The Experiment

Halfway through the first month of a two-month Facebook experiment. I have discovered:

  1. The advertisements are less a source of irritation than direct posts. The adverts are impersonal and surprisingly easy to ignore.
  2.  I even get some pleasure now that I realise that the advertisers had to pay for the space yet their investment is wasted.
  3. There are really only half a dozen people out of over two hundred that post irksome material. And it peaks at one or two.
  4. There are half a dozen that post consistently delightful material.
  5. The posts of objectionable material run in a delayed cycle based upon popular news feeds – the time lag can be anywhere from a n hour to several months, but most appear after about a week.
  6.  None of the irritating or offensive posts actually cause one to go hungry, thirsty, cold, or sleepless. They do not affect the health. They have no practical effect on anything… but they do flag the poster as foolish or nasty.

At the start of August I shall draw a little list of those people who cause happiness and those who cause pain. Then I’ll have a quiet month of no Facebook to think about it all.

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.

The Quiet Season Starts

Monday was the first day of my pledge not to react to Facebook taunts. I publicly promised to read the thing as usual for a month but not edit what I see.

It was, perhaps, a rash decision – coming as it did just on the month that contains Dominion Day, Independence Day, and Bastille Day. All occasions that may draw forth the bray of the Great Australian Ass on social media. I am now bound to hear it but ignore it…

Fortunately I can still write my own thoughts in my own columns, and hope that someone in the great somewhere reads every word. But even here I am bound by the laws of gentlemanly behaviour not to attack people with scurrilous rumour and unsubstantiated slander. I am not allowed to mock the afflicted. It’s most disheartening.

However, good will come of it. At the same time that I am reading, marking, and inwardly writhing at the stupidity and bias of Facebook posters, I am going to be making a daily note of the way the site works. I’ll make a list of the postings that I see based upon:

a. Normal cheerful posts. ie kittens, babies, dance shows, hot rod cars, etc. Things that make me happy.

b. Cries for attention done in a genuine manner or similar cries done by copying and posting some senseless thing plucked of a North American website.

d.Noxious political propaganda – whether it be a shared rant or an original piece of bad humour or bad taste. Things that make me feel bad.

e. Advertisements. These also make me feel bad, but not in a personal sense – they are just an intrusion.

f. Messages. This section is generally of quite some use to me -a secondary link to people that can get a faster response than an email or postal contact.

In addition, I shall log the number of minutes each day spent on Facebook.

At the end of the month I’ll have a good idea whether I’m personally getting more happiness or more sadness from the social network. It is not a judgement on the people involved per se, but rather an analysis of what it has actually become for me.

Then the second part of the experiment in August…

The Screech Of The We’re-Idiot

The Irish used to fear the screech of the banshee. So did the landing crews of the HMCS BONAVENTURE, but that was a slightly different matter. The wailing and unearthly sounds in both cases portended doom and disaster, but in the case of the Canadian aircraft carrier it was their jet squadrons landing back aboard…

Now we have a new fear to chill us in the night – the we’re-idiot who uses Facebook as a sounding board for their political and religious opinions. You may not hear them, but you see them, and the sight of yet another Anti-Trump rant or Millenial Moan is enough to drop the social temperature a good ten degrees.

We’re -idiot? Derived from the expression ” We’re outraged “.

It will only get worse – though I’m happy to say that the very worst of it will echo overseas. The American election will occupy the net for months and while our local were-idiots will foam and snarl, it will be as nothing to the exchanges in the USA. We’ll get the occasional echo here as the locals try to develop adequate outrage, but by and large it will be small stuff directed at a Prime Minister who is made of beige in a parliament that is painted taupe. We lack really savage causes, even though we do have some pretty classic savages.

The best we seem to be able to do lately is to foam about a football player who is a fundamentalist. Many of us do not care for his opinion nor for his attempts to collect sympathiser’s money, but then many of us do not care for the witch-hunt that has prompted this, either. We would be happy if he, his detractors, and his supporters were to take their money and their memes and go away. We will not pursue them.

 

For God’s Sake Leave That Careostat Alone!

I seem to be trapped in a social media household – the people who contribute to the Facebook site are at war with each other over the careostat. That’s the control box on the wall in the hallway that adjusts the degree of involvement and engagement that the group runs on.

Some want to turn it up, and we get Anti-Trumpeters blasting their little horns every second day. To be fair, most of them do not do their own sneering – they just repost other people’s bias. But they are nevertheless fiddling with the dial.

So are the activists – and they are active in any number of good causes. Some are quite genuine, and some have the same committment to goodness and mercy that Ma Barker used to exhibit. There seems to be an admixture of very clever advertising campaigns in the passion and outrage – not that you need to to be passionate or outraged to sell razor blades or running shoes. You just have to have your finger on the pulse of the populace. And you’d be surprised to see some of the spots on the body where pulses can be taken…

Some want to turn it down. Every day there is someone who stridently insists that I take notice of the fact that they do not care about something or someone. As the level of intensity in this insistence rises, I am not sure whether I am meant to take more notice of them or less…In actual fact, I have shared their emotion of  disinterest for a long time, and much of it is connected to their affairs…

I think that it would be a good idea to arrange a face-to-face meeting for all the people on my Facebook list. They could harangue or ignore each other on a personal basis with wine and cheese cubes on sticks. And if they wanted to set the careometer they could fight over that.

 

I’MMA UNFRIEND YOU…

After every election – no matter who gets elected or rejected – the social media pages fairly sizzle with outrage. This phenomenon is unique in that the heat generated is inversely proportional to the distance between the anger and the event that has produced it.

Or, to put it another way, WE WUZ ROBBED!

This is the cry of every fan in the stands at a baseball game when their team loses. They generally fasten upon the decisions of the umpire instead of the fact that their team played poor baseball. In some cases they yell that the other team are bums.

And the scoreboard has the same numbers on it when they turn the stadium lights off and sweep out the popcorn boxes. The outrage does not affect the actual score one bit. The disappointed fan goes home with no way to extract revenge upon the other team, the other team’s supporters, or the umpire.

But in the social media page, it’s always extra time. If the actual election result cannot be changed, the unhappy voter can always search for those amongst their acquaintance who did not vote as they did – and heap abuse on them. Then after that tirade, the offender can be excluded from the herd by the unfriending process of the social page. The angry voter can prowl off growling and baiting to see if there are more chances for revenge…

And the election results stand, as before, as they sweep away the popcorn boxes…

I often read of elections held in the 19th century that resulted in duels, murders, fistfights, and riots. I am amazed at this, given the fact that there were far fewer electors for each seat, and in many cases did not include women as either candidates or voters. I guess, having no social media to relieve their tension, they resorted to closer combat.