When I’m Culling You-Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo…

You’ll be really screw – hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoooed…

It’s the theme song for Facebook Spring Cleaning – that time of year when you turn your social media friends over and look at the stains underneath them…and decide whether to wipe it up or wipe them out.

Not that you are a cruel or callous tyrant – far from it – you are a sensitive flower of the universe  – open to goodness and kindness and righteousness wherever it appears. But when it appears under a pile of political, financial, or moral horse shit it is not worth the shovelling.

So it’s time to assess the ineffable. And the F—able as well. Especially them. When the Swear Jar starts to look like the International Monetary Fund it is time to consider whether someone is a good cultural influence or not. We are, for the most part, what we eat, but sometimes we are also what we are fed. And if we are fed a diet of bad language, bad ideas, and bad manners, it is time to find another place to eat.

Like any social media enthusiast, I want people to like me. I want to like them. But if the cost of this is agreement and adherence to the unlikeable…and sometimes to the unbearable…it is time to bring the social contract to an end.

Shall we regard it as a no-blame, no-guilt divorce? You can have custody of the Candy Crush and the sidebar. I’ll keep the hot rod pictures and the YouTube of people making ugly furniture. We’ll split the kitten videos down the middle.

 

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Broadcast Live From Your House

When you watch the news about the US president Donald Trump – or click the Facebook side panel – or listen to your friends deride him based upon what they have read on the internet…have you ever stopped to consider what YOU might look like if you were subject to the minute scrutiny that attends him?

I ask this as I remember being afflicted with similar scrutiny when a child in school – I was the fat, new, frightened kid…and was fair game for all the bullies and smart arses in every school I attended. As my detractors wanted to belittle me, they watched every single thing I did and found fault. The simplest action was cause for howls of contempt. Nothing was private, sacred, or approved. President Trump seems to be in the same position vis-a-vis the people who supported the other side of politics – and lost – and who now want their revenge.

So let’s imagine you – if you’re a Trump detractor – going about your daily routine. Let’s see if the treatment works on you.

You get out of bed in time for breakfast: ” Lazy swine lolls in bed while others slave to prepare feast. ” Not sounding too good.

So you get up earlier next day : ” Can’t sleep. Guilty conscience. Snoops on cooks behind the scenes. ” Still not good publicity. And who is feeding these stories to the press?

Okay, this time you’ll please someone…you’ll do without breakfast: ” Too good to eat like a normal person. No pleasing some people. ” Well, what the actual…

And we haven’t even started on your bathroom routine, your clothes for the day, or whatever it is you’re going to be doing for a living – never mind your religion, family, or politics. These topics will be covered by your enemies and will prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are evil incarnate, totally incompetent, and in collusion with the Russians, the French, the Tongans, and the firm that makes Cheezils. Every single action that you undertake, all day, all week, all year, will be wrong. The press and your detractors will be free to lie about you, to you, and because of you. No-one will hold them accountable.

Feeling the love yet? Feeling the burn yet? Feeling the bigotry and pettiness yet? Want to do something about it? Here’s what you do.

Nothing. Not a damn thing. Do not take the slightest notice of your detractors. Do not reward them with anger, or distress, or recognition. Take note of the fashionable meme that started up a few years ago: ” Keep calm and carry on. “. By all means use social media but do not use it to vent frustrations or angst. Be benign, vague, and cheerful. Send kitten videos. And do what you were going to do regardless.

Don’t be too sanguine about the results. You won’t reap any better opinion of yourself from the people who are determined to hate you; they have invested to much of their time in speech and writing to resile their position. Many of them hope for benefit from your opponents*. The best you can hope for is a better judgement of history.

* And if, in a few years, they present their intellectual bill to the other side of politics – and it is not paid – they have a ready-made supply of protest that they can direct to them.

 

 

 

Fixing Facebook Vs Fixating On Facebook

Well, the two week’s experiment is proceeding pretty well. I am avoiding Facebook for the better part of the day, and just dealing with it in a set period of time in the evening.

It is working out well, on the whole. I am less distracted when it comes to household tasks and can concentrate on my other writing and upon hobby matters.  And I have isolated the two things that most bother me about the social media giant:

a. The fact that people who I quite like to talk to in real life are menaces on the screen. I realise that people will always have different political, religious, moral , and cultural opinions that I may not agree with. I accept that – I know that some of my thoughts may make them quail.

But for the most part when we are face to face we do not trot these out…certainly we do not lambaste each other with them. The conventions of polite society seem to keep us in check.

Not so on the screen. Even though they are not anonymous – I can read who has posted something – my Facebook friends grab some of the most annoying and irksome posts from others and plaster them in my face. It does me no good to click the button stopping these – they are carried to me by the friend, rather than the Facebook service itself.

I am left with only three options; hide all from the friend, unfriend the friend, or grit my teeth and bear it.

b. The vortex of stupid click-bait posts that is any venture off the main page. I’ve learned to avoid any of them. Part of me admires the skill of the shill, but they are still demeaning.

As for the first section, part of me wants to collect a series of appalling memes and inflammatory pages and scatter them out onto the screen myself, with particular references and calls to individual people…but part of me knows that this is not funny – just bad manners. I prefer to be bad-mannered in person.

Heading Image: Lakanuki Atoll 1944

Trigger Issues

A new buzz phrase seems to be in the social media – ” trigger issue ” – which can cover anything that you decide it means – if you want to be angry about something you think up a series of triggers that will set you off. They need not be terrible things per se, because you can think up a story that makes anything into an opportunity to be angry – it is, after all, the way you want to be in the first place.

Ah, but are you doing it right? Are you sensitive enough…and seen to be sensitive enough by the cool crowd…to react quickly before the topic goes away? Perhaps it is time to advance to the next level: ” the set trigger issue “.

Set triggers have been around for centuries – they date far back into the muzzle-loading firearm days for hunting and target shooting. Any time the shooter needed to let the gun discharge with the lightest possible touch the set trigger was employed. They were not used in muskets or military firearms as these had to survive being cocked and carried in the rough and tumble of battle.

The set trigger was a two-part thing. You cocked the flintlock, then pulled the rear, curved trigger until it clicked. Then the front, straight trigger would fire off at the very slightest touch. If you lost your chance to fire you had to take the cock down off of full to half-cock and discharge the tension on the trigger.

The aspiring social warrior or fame-hunter can also use this technique. They think of an issue about which they have practiced a politically correct response, then analyse it for a key word that might be uttered in normal conversation. They attach this to the set trigger and pull it until it clicks. Then anyone even breathing it…or even something that sounds like it…can get the full roar of a discharge.

It’s very effective in giving the Facebook shooter an advantage – being the first-in frequently dominates any social exchange. And the advantage over discharging a real muzzle-loading rifle is that you don’t need to be accurate or even to hit the target. And you don’t have to wash the barrel out with hot soapy water afterwards.

Remember: You don’t have to be right to be righteous.

The Authentic Fake News Site Vs The False-Flag Rumour Forum List Meme

If we were asked to characterize the social media that we use – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. – in terms of food, what would we make it out to be?

a. Facebook: A crusty stew with appetizing aromas at the edges – aromas that never actually seem to be there when you search for them. The occasional bubble in the centre indicating heat. And a roiling mass of unsavoury ingredients just under the crust. Cat hair here and there. And unicorn glitter.

b. Twitter: A Pez dispenser. You poke the ornamental head at the top and a hard pellet of opinion is popped out of the screen. Some of the pellets taste like sugar and some of them taste like horse shit. None of them do you any good at all.

c. Instagram: Magnificently plated, superbly coloured, and unavailable to someone like you at this time. Just look and envy.

d. Pinterest: The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and so is the food. The reason is mould. Subscribe now.

e. The personal blog: Someone’s home cooking. Not necessarily bad, but nevertheless someone else’s pots and pans. Taste at your peril. They may not be a good cook. You may not be a good eater.

If we had been presented with today’s social media news in the 1950’s or 1960’s we would likely have recognised it for what it is – propaganda and commercial promotion. The flimsiest of the flam. Those of us who saw the lies when they came on newsprint and left ink stains on the fingers…or who waded through innumerable cigarette advertisements in magazines…react entirely differently to those who have only ever seen a screen. We may not know how to turn that screen on and make it dance, but we know when to turn it off and do our own thinking.

Of course we can be wrong when we do that – original thought can be as bad as the store-bought stuff – but as we use simpler ingredients and have less access to processors, it is likely to be fresher and tastier. It may lack the salt and scandal that is added by unknown hackers but it nourishes us just the same.

Bit riskier when we send it to our friends and neighbours, though. As our own thoughts are unlikely to be covered by the legal indemnities enjoyed by professional liars, we are in danger of being detected and having our opinions challenged. Most of us have no biased reports or dodgy scientific studies to back us up and common sense has long been discredited as a way of living. The best we can do when some other madman challenges our own mania is throw out a smokescreen of kitten and Hitler memes and close the account.

Anyone who either agrees or disagrees with this will be instantly defriended with the prickly end of an emoji.

The Sniper Team

Recent events have made this a parlous sort of title for my weblog column but read on and you’ll see why I wrote it.

On my Facebook today a post prompted a series of exchanges – between people with whom I am familiar and people who are complete strangers. I hasten to add that I did not intrude into the exchange. The root cause of the fight, as it will be of many others, was the reports we received of the events of the recent hotel shootings in Las Vegas.

There was a great deal of anguish shown by the various people involved in the discussion and eventually it started to spill over into sexual politics, cross-accusation, and nastiness. The person who originated the thing then called an end to the discussion. One of the participants claimed a sort of victory. It’s an occurance that happens frequently on Facebook.

I could not help being drawn to compare it to some of the practices outlined in a book written by a Captain C. Shore about British army sniping in the world wars. Not the Las Vegas thing…that is yet to be seen for what it may well prove to be…but the use of the spotter, shooter, and decoy system in scoring victories on social media.

Why this should be seen as desirable, in what is supposed to be an on-line community, is sometimes not clear, but the thing that is evident is that there are frequent occasions where a person sets up a tempting post to invite comments and one of their friends sits waiting until a target reacts. Then there is a brief flurry of outraged and biased virtue-scoring posted to dominate the unwary target.

If the person caught in this barrage responds with a counterattack that seems to answer the question or puts the sniper in a bad light, the spotter – acting as originator of the whole sequence – shuts it down by declaring an end. In some cases they can weave back and edit out the target’s posts. The sniper team is left to publicly do the little dance of victory of whichever social army they fight for.

Happened on the computer today to someone else – happened to me some time ago with a different sniping team. The only remedy I could see at the time was to defriend the spotter – the sniper was not on my list.

I’m warier these days about what I say to whom. I rarely defriend anyone, but I do sometimes switch them to the unseen track. And when I meet them in person I am careful to restrict my speech to ” Yay Yay” and ” Nay Nay ” as per biblical instructions. Because all the rest is bound to be sin and sorrow.

Whut He Sed

Don’t tell us what he said. Please, don’t. And in particular, please don’t show us by copying and pasting or ” sharing ” something.

Tell us what you say. If it is influenced by what you have read or seen, that is fine. We are all impacted by the world in this way. It helps us to shape our own opinions. And if we explain someone else’s thoughts that have passed through our own minds, they might have picked up more truth or clarity along the way.

The information business is so widespread these days that we really do not need to have someone’s third or fourth-hand pamphlet, meme, or opinion thrust upon us like a dead chicken on a stick*. We can go and get this sort of intellectual carrion for ourselves from Google. If you wish to engage our attention and persuade us to your opinion, give it to us in your own words and show us your own images. We’ll judge them, and you, with far more leniency than some re-hash of fake news or propaganda.

Who knows – as H.L. Mencken used to say ” You may be right…”. Of course H.L. was making a wry face when he said this, but you’ve gotta do something with your eyebrows in any case.

  • That was a vacation, I can tell you…