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.

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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…

” We Must Do Lunch “

In a way, I am grateful for disappointment – it never fails to come through for me in the end.

I’m drawn to this conclusion while mixing the afternoon cocktail, and for once it has happened before the ethanol hits. I am not sure whether this means it is a deeper and truer sentiment or not…you can sometimes get pretty close to the philosophical mark with rye whiskey too…

Promises are a part of life for everyone. They start when we are offered treats or punishment to control our childish behaviour…and they continue through life in an effort elicit that behaviour again. I’m not sure what one promises the elderly, but I’m hoping to find out. It may involve circuses and/or a paddling.

But a promise is a dangerous thing. A black bomb with a sealed fuse. You cannot guess what it will do from the appearance on the outside, though you can get some inkling from the behaviour of the person making it. If they laugh hollowly and run away, you can be pretty sure it will blow up in your face.

The thing about the promise is that it must needs be kept to keep up the reputation of the speaker. If it is not – and as soon as it is perceived that it is not – the promisee is morally free to call the other person a liar. That is a grave charge in any society- even in Parliament. Yet not all promises made are actually meant to be taken seriously…and there is rarely any subscript or key to tell the listener whether they are hearing something authentic or just social convention:

” We must do lunch ” = ” I have no intention of meeting you again “.

The people who suffer most from this seem to be those with the altered perceptions of autism. I suspect they hear the words, but not the implied convention, and it must be a hell for them to sort out one from the other. Genteel conversation would become impossible, codified as it is in exchanges of platitudes and common-places interspersed with actual communication. How do they decode it at all?

I think the best thing we could all do is speak plainly. Or not at all. Things that need to be said, can be said, and the other conventionalities that act as social excelsior to cushion the conversation can just be left alone.

And I really mean that. With all my heart. I promise thee. We must do lunch. Is that call for me…?

 

” If You Don’t Know…”

” I’m not going to tell you.”

How often have we heard that one? It was the constant litany of the Kool Kids at school when the rest of us asked a question. It was used to make us feel left-out…even more so than to begin with. And it worked very well for the first few times that it was employed. We would go off sad and insulted, and there seemed to be no answer to make.

I bring this up because of a Facebook posting recently that floated past my feed line. It was a topic I would normally have taken no interest in, but it appeared because a friend had entered the general discussion. She was interested in one person’s assertions regarding nutrition, and asked very politely for some references that she could pursue in her studies.

Well, she got a sneering version of the standard reply. And then some equally rude passing commentary from other anonymous sources. It was the schoolyard all over on the internet.

I mentioned earlier that this sort of thing worked well for the first few times. My school days were a long while ago, and it has stopped working – indeed it stopped working long ago. But the interesting thing was that it was a standard ploy used in many situations for a very long period of time.

When I encountered this sort of rudeness from people of my own age I was able to dismiss them as fools or braggarts that had no information or knowledge to back up their assertions. When I encountered it from a lecturer in the University of Western Australia’s Dental School I was taken somewhat aback. But it took a further 10 years of solo practice to harden me enough to respond to it when it happened again.

The chap had moved on to be a specialist consultant in a mechanical branch of dentistry. I had a patient who needed the sort of thing he did – and referred the patient by letter to the specialist. Apparently they did not get on well – and I eventually received a high and mighty letter sneering at me for sending that referral and telling me not to do it again. And I never did – I sent the people who needed a prosthedontic specialist’s attention to other practitioners and everyone was happy. I did have the satisfaction of writing a polite note acknowledging the order*.

I suspect that whenever this sort of thing happens it is because of a number of factors:

a. The person being rude does not know what they are talking or writing about .

b. They have no material to which they can refer.

c. They are naturally ill-mannered. Or they have developed ill manners as a cover for worse characteristics.

d. They are writing from Mom’s Basement, with no other connection to social interaction than the reactions to their trolling posts.

I suppose we can be grateful that at least they are not in specialist practice…

* Good manners in the face of bad is always the best answer. Public good manners is even better…

Detrolling Your Life – Part Two – The BGA Way

The Backstabbers Guild Of Austalia is nothing if not public-spirited. When we see a wrong we right it. No dragon can threaten a fair maiden when The Guild is present. At least not first.

Ignoring and blocking the troll is still the best legal way to cure the problem. Remember that as you read the list of alternatives.

a. Most trolls are misfits. But that having been said, even the least socially active will have some contact with other people. A job, perhaps, or a family. A club or organisation that they belong to. These are known in the general world as “outlets” for them – to a Guild member they become ” inlets “. Places where the armour of trollery is weakest…

b. Find this place. Make friends with the troll’s friends. In sight of the troll. But do not include them in the discussion.

c. Bad language can be a specialty of the troll and a way that they shock and bear down on their victims. But trolls frequently have only one language to use…at most two. There are many more for you to choose from.

Find a teacher or speaker of a language that the troll does not know. Latvian, Urdu, Samoan…whatever you fancy. Pay them well to teach you some choice foul expressions in their tongue. Real corkers. Curses that would make native seamen blanch and lean against walls. Practise these until you can deliver them faultlessly, and then deliver them faultlessly. Your tone of voice will cut as deeply as if you were speaking English, but you cannot be frowned on for bad language. Occasionally you may horrify a tourist, but that is the price you pay for sophistication.

d. On no account go to a furniture auction and purchase a sturdy kitchen table. Do not wrench off one of the legs and then go and beat your tormentor about the head and shoulders with it. This is illegal. And it spoils what may otherwise be a perfectly good table.

e. Even trolls pay tax. But do they pay the correct amount? The ATO has hot lines over which you can raise this very question.

f. If your troll is physically findable, do so, and go to them and forgive them. Do it publicly, and do it sincerely and in detail, with others listening.

Then do it again the next day. At the same time.

Repeat this for a month – day by day. That hour – the Hour Of Apology – will be come an accursèd time for them for the rest of their life. Once a day your ally, the clock, will haunt them.

g. Do you like to eat and drink well? To dress fashionably and in comfort?  Save up some cash and then arrange to do just this within the sight of your troll. You need not acknowledge them, but you might want to listen for the sound of their teeth grinding together.

In all of the above remember that whatever comfort there is in the sight of an enemy discomfited, there is far better enjoyment to be had in actually forgetting about them. They wither and fall away if not attended, and leave the earth clean for better growth.

 

 

How I Cleared A Social Media Memefield

Well, for a start, I got a meme detector and learned how to operate it. The modern ones have a battery pack that you wear and an electronic probe on the end of a frame that you hold up close to the screen. The meme detector has a small suction motor that draws the air in from around a Facebook posting and sends signals to its computer for analysis. Once the signal is processed the meme detector notifies you via headphones whether the sample is bullshit or not.

The detector is connected via a WiFi transmitter to the snopes.com website and can access all their recent data. If something has been rehashed and presented to the gullible public as a true image or real thing that happened…but is not…this information is sent back to the meme detector and I can be warned. Usually it is done by a discrete red light on the side of the casing, though the new model Fraudbuster 800 will play the sound of a cynical raspberry into the headphones.

None of this will stop well-meaning people from lighting upon something that triggers them off, being taken in, and then re-broadcasting the original meme. But it may prevent me from being taken in far enough to react to the thing, or to cast it further over the heads of the populace. To paraphrase Harry Truman, ” The fuck stops here. “.