The Guild Guide To Social Signalling

The BGA has always taken an interest in social behaviour. If that interest sometimes led to sirens in the night and lifelong enmities it must be remembered that you cannot make an omlette without cracking eggs. The trick to a really good omelette is not to crack the pan either…

Social signalling is a popular topic right now – the forms of communication that we see on the internet in forums, social pages, websites, and columns such as this one. Each has its own special format and in some cases the purpose of the signal can be quite different. Here are some examples:

a. The virtue signal – this is a posting on a social site or a column written to draw attention to the goodness of the writer – to their virtue. The world abounds in evil and misery, and the virtue signaller has a wide choice of topics they can discuss – to make themselves look good.

No-one can pretend that murder is a good thing. So the virtue signaller comes out with a passionate cry that murder is not good – confident that everyone will have to agree with them. They appear a good person for decrying a bad thing.

It becomes a little fraught when they mix politics, religion, sex, and commerce into this cry of virtue. They tend to give off hints of their own prejudices, bigotry, malevolence, and cupidity even as they wave the banner of goodness.

Some people have asked what the best response should be to a virtue signal. The Guild feels that you must either preserve a dignified silence or respond with wholehearted enthusiastic agreement. Whichever course you adopt, attune it to the level of virtue that the original signaller has tried; if they are modest, be modest in your silence – if they are flamboyant, be the same with your stonewall. Likewise, if you pretend to agree with them let it be either a modest social tail wagging or a complete public leg-hump.

b. The vague signal – this is the social post that starts with air and ends with clouds. No part of it is either intelligent or intelligible. You are lucky to see it on Facebook or Twitter -if it came to your email account your ISP would spam-can it staunchly.

Well, a signal is a signal, and this one indicates that the signaller wants you to make earnest and sympathetic enquiries about them. This is so that they can tell you their troubles and, if possible, blame you. This may not be convenient.

The Hearty English Major approach is best here:

” For God’s sake buck yourself up and stop whining! ” is a comfort for many in this situation. Not for the signaller, of course, but for you. Try to snort as you type – it comes through in the punctuation.

c. The outrage signal – this is sometimes linked to the virtue signal but may be a separate thing. In the purest cases it is a reaction to some horrid world event. The signaller foams and imprecates, threatens and howls, finally throwing themselves into a corner in tears. Most of the targets of their anger are far away and untouchable, and nothing ever comes of it.

If the targets are not far away – if they are local persons, firms, and events – it becomes a little more interesting. Publishing a rant doesn’t constitute defamation in many cases but borders on it for others. Responding to a rant as a disinterested third party is a temptation but you really don’t want to include yourself in the ring. If you feel the need to press something, press the emoji button and claim later that it was just your knuckle brushing the keyboard.

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Reaching Out To Your Audience

As a weblog column writer I get a number of return contacts; spam, emails from people who admire one or other of the posts, and offers to help me increase my popularity with my readers. I do inspect each new contact, and have actually added one weblog column to my daily reading as a result of a comment, but by and large that is it.

It is not that I do not want to increase the ” traffic ” of my columns – it is just that I do not want to be writing or dancing for the audience on their terms. If that were the case I would take up Instagramming or Twittering or Facebooking on a serious basis and fire off memes like machine-gun bullets. It may sound selfish, but I write my own thoughts here…and I am happy to have you read them whenever you’ve a mind to. I can’t write yours – I am not you. And I know some of you are not you, either.

When I try to entertain I fail about as many times as I succeed – that is the fate of most Catskill comedians. The best I can hope for is that you read through to the end of any particular column – in some cases to see if I mention your name, Bill – and do not send in a complaint to your ISP about it. If you laugh or ponder it is a bonus. I will already have done so while writing it.

I do want your readership, and appreciate the likes and replies – at least the ones that do not want me to buy Viagra in an online Russian casino. If some days are less enlightening, be patient – eventually a zeppelin will crash outside the front door and I have a camera ready. In the meantime reflect that all of our lives are somewhat similar, and what happens here in Perth also happens where you live…with the possible exception of the venomous snakes coursing through the local hospital car park. We actually do have that as a real thing here on the south side of the river and it pays to look carefully when you get out of the car. Not all humorous Australian memes are just exaggerated jokes – not in the springtime.

Note: These are not kindly snakes…Google Dugite.

Beat The Parcel Bandits This Year

The crime of theft from the front doorsteps of Australia is on the rise – the holiday month plus the increase in on-line shopping means than more and more deliveries are being made…and more and more delivery personnel are discovering that no-one is home.

Some of them make this judgement after ringing the doorbell and knocking for 5 minutes. Some make it from the street as they drive by at 50 kph. The second types are generally Australia Post contractors who just take the parcel back to the local depot and leave it for you to seek. The ones who invest a bit of time at the front mat may to leave the goods under it or behind the potted palm and then buzz off.

Here is where the parcel thieves succeed. They trail delivery trucks until they get one of these unattended drops and then swoop on it after the courier has driven out of the street. The goods are gone and the intended recipient may have a miserable trial trying to get anyone who handled them to admit to it.

The Guild Solution to this is BGA Couriers. In our distinctive cars and vans – we have a magnetic sign that can be whacked onto the doors of any car…and as easily removed again – we drive through the suburbs until we pick up a ” trailer “. There is a list of likely suspects circulated daily and any old Commodores or Hyundai sedans with oxidized paint panels are instantly recognised.

A house is selected – preferably with an open driveway, closed garage doors, and a porch easily seen from the street.. The BGA Courier goes to the door with a temptingly large parcel. The courier seems to ring the bell, but no-one answers…so they prop the parcel in full view of the street and drive away. With a bit of luck the thief swoops, collects the bait, and is off and away.

What’s in the box? Anything we fancy. Old laundry, used, and well past saving. Commercial leaflets that have been accumulating for the last three months. Pistachio shells and glitter in an unsealed bag. Dust from the Hoover. Just anything…

After all, it is the holiday season and in this case we are far better giving than receiving.

 

I Have Been Accused Of Being Old And Vile…

And I couldn’t be more delighted. Receiving recognition of a lifetime’s dedicated study and work is very gratifying and the fact that the speaker is crying and trying to throw canned goods and shoes at me just makes it all the sweeter. There is a great deal of sincerity in a can of green beans when it is aimed at your head.

Getting to be old is a privilege – one we pay for in aches and pains – but nevertheless a good thing. It means that, as Gilbert and Sullivan so accurately put it, we can mature our felonious little plans. Anticipation is fine but satisfaction is better, particularly if you are never suspected.

Is being vile a bad thing? Well, there are so many definitions of the word that there seems to be room for a great many forms of behaviour. Eating the wrong thing in one culture scores badly – the same meal elsewhere is welcomed with gusto. Likewise political and religious opinions and actions. You just need to find the right audience for anything you do.

I have always tried to be kind to animals. Some of them are useful, some attractive, some dangerous. Some are delicious. It is best to adopt a good attitude to them all if you do not have a .30-06 or a frying pan close to hand.

Likewise I am kind to children. I find them to be valuable allies in my war against their parents. They know things that can be jotted down and given in evidence. Few of them are discrete.

And I do help old people across the road – I take their arm and carefully totter from one curb to the other, oblivious to the screeching and banging of cars as they collide. But I am careful to keep the other person closest to the traffic – no sense being careless about things. SOme of them are younger than me.

I will admit to one bad habit. I cannot pass a stack of canned goods in the supermarket without easing one of the cans on a lower level just to the edge of its engagement. And then I go away and pause in the dairy aisle and listen for the inevitable…

Here’s A Picture Of A Kitten And Hitler

I see there is a new tactic on Facebook: “sharing” a series of interesting or attractive pictures and then using a prepared storyline to push a political opinion. If you like the pictures as such you have to read the propaganda.

It’s an old ploy in other media, but the fact that it targets the “sharebots” of Facebook as carriers is interesting. It’s hard to know whether they really do believe the slightly  hidden messages or whether they are just fellow travellers.

Fortunately there is a hide button next to an unfollow button, but if the propaganda package has been skillfully put together – and you can be certain that it has, being the product of one of the world’s greatest manipulation machines – that there are other bored or witless bots who will throw it at you again.

PS: Don’t accuse the sharebot of being a fellow traveller. They’ll just start sending you pictures of their holidays.

When To Seem Helpless…

It might be a little odd to advise people to try to seem helpless. After all, some are that way naturally, and do not need to simulate it – some are never helpless, and are better for that. But those of us in the middle…sometimes competent and confident, and sometimes a quivering mass…need to know when to turn it on and when to turn it up…

a. If you are trapped in a dark alley between outlaw motorcycle gangs and rabid dogs, do not appear helpless. It only encourages them. Take the opportunity – perhaps your one and only one – to go mad and bad and dangerous to approach. Go incandescently insane.

b. If you are in a position where dignity is foremost, do not show any helplessness. Stiffen your upper lip and any other portions of your body that may seem appropriate, and behave like a gentleman or a lady. If you cannot decide which of the two to be, go icy and reserved. No-one likes to touch a corpse.

c. In all other circumstances…act helpless. It pays dividends.

If you go to any government agency…or really any office at all…you can be assured that they have more rules than ever you know about, and even when they provide an explanation, it is to their satisfaction, not yours. Here the helpless act compels them to assist in some way. Even if it is just to get rid of you before morning tea break, they will expedite the process.

Likewise professional offices will assist with their own professional processes…if you stand back and let them proceed. Be kind to the receptionist and let her solve the problems she could make you if you were argumentative and entitled.

Helplessness also will get assistance from people in shops, service stations, on the buses and trains, and really anywhere that is public enough. Do not exploit it, but reserve it for times when something really is all too much. Likewise, step up and assist someone else who you can see failing.  That’s the secret to being moral. That and not setting fire to haystacks.