The Assumption Of Social Media

It happened again today. I sat down in my lounge room with a friend and had a conversation. The computer was off and I made no typographical errors. Both he and I seemed to be making intelligent statements and not once did we break out into a political meme or a picture of a cat. And neither of us invited the other person to play a brightly-coloured game. I’m a little creeped out at present.

Is this the start of an actual thing – this business of talking face to face and not using emojis? ( I will admit to making several emoji faces, but my friend just asked whether I had swallowed a teaspoon.

It all came about by him deciding that Facebook was eating up too much of his spare time, and by analysing the bulk of the posts and conversations…and then deciding that many of them were not as attractive or as helpful as a blank screen. And he’s not the only one – I have a regular weekly meeting with another friend ( at least I’m regular, but then fibre biscuits will do that for you ) where we do much the same thing. The topics are far-ranging and there are no advertisements to endure. So far neither of us has put the other one on time-out for a month.

Social media assumes that we want to see all that we do see. It tries by means of computer logging and recording to find out exactly what we want to look at, with no responsibility save that of the shill to provide anything else. It is the snoop and the sneak at the edges of our conversations with others – always piping up with what it hopes is a catchy phrase or picture. The click-bait scams are, quite frankly, just a form of intellectual pornography.

It assumes we are more foolish and venal than we really are. That we can be cozened into doing small useless things and that we will be willing to set these things onto other people in a chain of folly. This may seem to be annoying and insulting, but really is a valuable thing. It enables you to see who within your circle of acquaintance is gullible enough to borrow money from. Though I should be quick – by the time the click-bait advertisers get to them, they may have spent it already on lemon peelers and facelift hooks.

Like the moon landings, this experience of actual human interaction is one small step for mankind. Who knows whether it may ultimately lead to turning Facebook off altogether. Only time will tell.

Advertisements

The Next Best Thing To Sliced Bead

The next best thing to sliced bread is not, as the advertisers would have you believe, a new electronic gadget or app. It is not an item of clothing or a kitchen appliance. It is cheese and pickle.

Thus another popular saying ( here in Australia ) goes for a Burton. North American readers can also go for a Burton but they’ll have to hunt out an English pub or beer shop to do it. Elizabeth Taylor went for a Burton…

Do you think that popular sayings and buzz-phrases are getting to be clichéd? You’re not wrong, Narelle. And we are being bombarded with more of them every day, thanks to the very screen you are looking at. They can become a burden after a while and we long for good old-fashioned communication like you got before the War. When men were men and women were women and the ABC announcers dressed up in suits and ties to read scripts over a radio microphone.

I think it is time to take back this level of earnestness and style. To re-assert the right of everyone to be elegant. Therefore:

a. Henceforth this column will be written while fully  the author is fully dressed. No more old green bathrobe and slippers. No more typing while wearing nothing but a wet towel. Or less.

b. No more buzz phrases – or at least none that are currently in use on Facetwit or that other slightly profane site; Instadamn.

c. All words will be correctly spelled and supplied in correct grammatical form. And the correct spelling may not be what the biased Spell Checker at the top of the WordPress menu would have it. I have been watching this suspect program and seen several howlers pass its scrutiny. It may be time to finally decide whether British English or American English is to prevail…though the Canadian compromise might be adopted for the sake of convenience. Whichever one is chosen, there will be protests from the grammatically arrogant.

d. Colourful local words and phrases like ” Crikey ” and ” Stone the crows ” will be permitted but must be put in the mouths of colourful locals. Direct quotes only, preferably from a scaffold.

e. I have no objection to foreign words creeping in as long as they then creep out again.

f. No-one would expect to have a brain surgeon or waist gunner perform their special tasks while eating a Subway  tuna-fish sandwich. Likewise the readers do not want their literature bedaubed with taco sauce or biscuit crumbs. Henceforth the desk will be cleared of plates while the column is being typed. This will have the added benefit of not requiring a new keyboard after Spaghetti Night.

g. I shall occasionally introduce a new word or phrase to cover a particular point of communication and then repeat it enough times over different platfoms to set it in the public mind. Most of this will be done in a spirit of jollity and kindness, with the appropriate amount of savagery. This process of forcing language upon the unwilling shall be known as motting the rubes.

I do not expect them to be grateful, but I shall be satisfied when they start doing it to each other.

SIn For The Sinless – On Being An Armour-Piercing Saint

If you are pretty well free of sin and error – like Mother Theresa, the Dalai Lama, or the Pope – you may feel that going to confession is a bit of a waste of time. Oh you might scrape up something like inattentiveness or the vague desire to take a third tea-cake, but you’ll be scrapping to interest the confessor on the other side of the grill. If you irk them they’ll just tell you to go and get blessed…

None of us are that good, but still, many of us have never set fire to an orphanage or touched a supporter of the Democratic Party in an inappropriate manner…and thus we struggle to make a meaningful confession or profession. We hesitate to attend. The BGA business model will change that.

We welcome news of sin and malignancy, but in the BGA booth you need not tell your own. You are free…and indeed encouraged…to tell that of others. The wider your vision of the faults of humanity can range and the more accurate and detailed your information can be, the quicker you can get out of the booth and the higher your standing with the Guild will be. To put it frankly, if you can bring us the goods, you need not pay the gold coin. In some cases it can be quite the opposite…

We all know people who do the right thing by others. Let us forget them for the present. Now concentrate on your friends and relations who really DO have something to hide – tell us all about them. We’ll even allow you a little leeway in the matter of strict truth if the story is juicy enough.

If there is one thing we have learned from the internet and social media, it is the elasticity of truth…

Of course we are prepared to grant you absolution, insofar as it is in our power to do so. Which is pretty well not at all. But the great thing is that you will have been enabled to traduce, calumniate, denigrate, and defame those of whom you disapprove from the safety of an anonymous structure in a public place. And with no consequences – save the occasional beating with a suggested post.

As we said – if there is one thing we have learned from the internet and social media, it is that we have learned two things…

 

The Backstabbers Guild Of Australia – A Guide To Salvation Through Publicity

We mentioned the Catholic confessional yesterday but forgot to say that it is considered to be a sacrosanct thing. The admissions that people make in there are generally supposed not to be blabbed about by the priests. This has lead to a number of melodramatic Hollywood movies and even more melodramatic government enquiries and media reports all over the world. And that has given the BGA an idea.

We are going to introduce a variation upon the institution of the confessional but with a few operational differences:

a. The BGA version will be available in more places – not confined to the premises of a church or cathedral. BGA booths will be set up in railway stations, shopping malls, and sports arenas. In country towns they will be attached to the pub or the petrol station. The Guild has a long-term aim to make sure that no Australian is more than 500 metres from a BGA booth wherever they live in the country.

b. BGA booths will be manned by a trained counsellor, though in some cases the training that they have received may be in naval gunnery, bartending, or double-entry book keeping. In any case they will be people who are prepared to sit there and listen. They will be paid, of course.

c. The booths will be properly curtained, with a darkened interior and a grillwork between the impenitent and the professor – we’ve learned that much psychology from the church. People will only start talking when they feel safe. Or when they are full of sodium pentothal. Curtains are cheaper than hypodermics.

d. The booths will have an internal sound tube and megaphone attached so that the sounds created inside are amplified and sent out over the surrounding area. We were contemplating a modern microphone/amplifier/speaker system but the technical experts pointed out that the power requirements and maintenance would make this impractical – certainly if we are to have a large network.  And the costs involved would push the project well over budget.

e. There will be no time limits set upon the BGA booths – neither frequency of attendance nor time inside speaking into the tube. There will be a hook provided in the counsellor’s tool kit to allow them to remove people who are just in there sleeping or making a nuisance of themselves. In really troublesome areas no seating will be provided apart from a central spike.

f. Most of the BGA booths will have a charity box attached to them. It will swing in on a steel hinge once the curtain is pulled across and will not swing back out of the way until a gold coin is dropped into the slot. There are fishooks set in the slot of the box to make sure that voluntary contributions go in and not out.

But enough of the mechanics of the booths. Read tomorrow to see how the BGA professional will help the people.

 

The Confessional And The Professional – A Modest BGA Proposal

Or ” How To Give Yourself Absolution In Three Easy Lessons “.

Faithful Catholics have a really good feature built into their choice of church – it includes an untimed private session with a trained psychologist every week. They can get whatever they want off their chest and the person who counsels them about it does not go out and instantly write an article for a learned journal from what they have heard.

In many cases the counsellor gives good advice and the person using the service goes away feeling better for it. Of course they may also go off with a giant flea in their ear and the obligation to perform good deeds on a massive scale.

Good stuff, but you need a big infrastructure to support it – a complete church building, a wooden box with two cubicles and curtains, and someone willing to sit there in the dark listening to you blather onwards without giving in to the desire to reach around to your side of the curtain and punch you. This may be a big ask these days. I propose that we substitute a WordPress special app for the normal Catholic procedure – and that we all make use of it.

Note: I wondered if any of the other religions had a similar procedure in place, but as I am not a member of what Tom Paine referred to as the Jew church or the Turk church…or any of the other organisations…I cannot say. The Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs, and other eastern groups may have similar arrangements.

I do know that I used to tell my sins to my mother when I was a kid and she gave out vigorous absolution with a rubber cake spatula. To this day I cannot pass the kitchen drawer containing the baking implements without a sense of trepidation. Morality has many a strange fount…

But enough speculation; gather up your sins and peccadillos and have them ready for tomorrow when the Backstabbers Guild of Australia shows you the way to salvation.

Dirty Work At the Crossroads

I have decided to take up the life of a highwayman.

I found a long black cloak and hat with a brim that goes over my eyes. The local Parties-R-Us had a good selection of black masks. I’ve enrolled in a course of horse riding – and I asked specifically for a fiery steed. The lady at the riding school was a little skeptical, but has promised to put me down for ” Sparkles “. Apparently they have a lot of highway robbers in the Shetlands and have developed a special horse for them…or so she says.

My application to the Police Firearms Branch for a licence for a brace of pistols for purposes of robbery went in Monday so that’s all right. I’ve been practicing my flourishing in the mirror with a pair of large bananas and I think I can manage pretty well – provided Sparkles is going to stand still.

The only two things left to sort out are what the schedule of the mail coach is and where I shall bail it up. I believe the country mail for Albany and the wheatbelt is taken on coaches now that most of the rail services have been closed down, so that should mean good pickings. I am also hoping for gouty squires and aristocratic maidens with purses full of sovereigns. I plan to barricade the highway to force the coach to stop by rolling large rocks onto the bitumen. I’ve seen it done by a coyote in cartoons.

The thought has just come to me…I’ll need a highwayman’s name. Something to strike terror into the gouty squires and set the hearts of the maidens fluttering. Perhaps it would be as well to change from referring to myself as Uncle Dick and become Captain Dick – the Terror of Tammin.

I’ve seen Tammin, and frankly, it terrifies me.

 

The National Day – Part Two – Independence Day Or Dependence Day?

Remember I mentioned that most national days commemorate someone declaring themselves to be independent from someone else? And determined to govern their lives on their own terms?

Unfortunately for Australia, the events of 26 January, 1778 were rather in reverse. The local people were free before the fleet rocked up but not after. Think of it in terms of a D-Day landing but instead of the British, Americans, and Canadians storming ashore it would be the Wehrmacht. Possibly with better air cover…

Well, 230+ years have rolled away since then and there have been other amphibious assaults to thrill and entertain the citizens. Not all of them successful, but that doesn’t stop the national desire to march and cheer. But that idea of thinking that nationhood came in boats full of convicts under musket guard is starting to be a bit suss. And it begs the question that is answered everywhere else by a definite set of criteria; when exactly did Australia become independent from the guards with muskets?

You’ll be pleased and horrified to learn that it was on the 1st of January 1900. Pleased because it happened without bloodshed, and horrified that no-one now wants to have it as the national day. Why?

Because it is on one of the New Year’s days. The one that is recognised by most of he population, but is already surrounded with boozy celebration and hangovers. Hardly anyone has the energy to be patriotic after a night on the tiles. So the day is shifted to 26 January, by which time livers have uncurled.  No-one wants to have to be sober and proud next morning when there is avocado dip in their hair. ( Presuming that it is avocado dip…)

And now the indigenes are unhappy and the immigrants are unhappy and the cheap journalists and cheaper council politicians make a fortune of money and publicity out of stoking that emotion.

What to do? Well, first of all recognise exactly what the truth is about the current day. And decide what a national day really should be. And then unravel the story so that everyone can read it. In the phrase beloved of all bureaucrats: ” Bring us into line with other nations “.

Tomorrow? The new days planned for Australia.