Do You High Five The Computer?

No. I point at it and yell ” Bumpah ! ” when I finish writing a knockout column.

Then I put it in the draft section and let it sit for at least a couple of days before I re-read it. If it is still ” Bumpah! ” I can post it. The two days lets me see the typos, and introduces a certain degree of calm into the thing. It also means that sometimes the exclamation is changed to”

” Trasho! ”

Thanks to Mr. W. Rogers, I am taking more of the opportunities to shut up that are presented to me. I hope silence will smooth relations with people in the future and serve as an elegant setting to the occasional flash of diamond-like wit.

Would that world leaders who resort to the mobile phone keypad whenever stressed to send out tweets were as cautious. It might prevent a great deal of angst in the rest of us.

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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.

 

Let Me Tell You…

a. What is wrong with you.

I know what it is, because it is the same thing wrong with me.

b. ANYTHING.

I have a Facebook account and so do you. I can post either the most outrageously false material or provable scientific truths and it’ll pop through on your screen just the same.

c. Everything. About my life, my lunch, and my love affairs. All the little intimate details that I dare not breathe for fear of scandal. I’ll just post them on social media.

You don’t want to know? But, Darling, you don’t understand. This is me I’m writing about…

d. Nothing.

e. Something to your advantage.

This is the classic phrase used in 18th century advertisements in the broadsheets when wicked lawyers wish to find victims for their plots. I know, because I have read novels written in that period. The advantage generally concerns a legacy or a mansion somewhere in the mist.

f. A story.

Once upon a time there was this columnist who reviewed social media every day. One of his late friends was a doctor in a VD clinic and he reviewed social connections every day too – long before the internet existed – and from a different angle. He had the advantage that they issued free rubber gloves.

From conversations with him many years ago I gathered that his opinion of the social behaviours he was called upon to peer at were much the same as the Facebook posts I read. They seemed, sometimes, to ooze…and not with life, either…

g. Goodbye. And a good day to you. I shall have one, in as far as it is in my power to make it for myself. You may choose to do likewise. It will only require a cheerful thought that rewards you or an evil one that succeeds undetected. I shall go cut fuses now…

The Unspeakable Joy Of Satiety

You’ve all seen the tee shirt that says  ” Been there, Done that. Got this tee shirt. “.

It’s funny and sad on several levels, but mightily encouraging in the end. It frees us from the need to:

a. Go back there and do it again. At least as long as the tee shirt lasts.

b. Go there and do it in the first place. If we really don’t want to travel, compete, shop, or whatever the thing is, we can pretend that it is old hat and that we’re weary of it all.

If we were honest we would wear a tee shirt that said ” Never been there. Don’t fancy going “. Then we could emblazon this slogan over all sorts of images; Paris, Disneyland, Bali, Gold Coast. The reaction on the faces of others would be much more satisfying than with the first version.

c. Envy those who do go and do things.

Again we ought to be honest inside ourselves if we really do not fancy any of it…but instead of emblazoning this contempt on our chests we could settle for a nice silkscreen print of a Messerschmitt or Bullwinkle the moose. Why shit people off over your own tastes and desires?

For myself, I try to avoid any writing on the externals of my clothing – whether that be a brand name of running shoes or the state prison farm. If people want to know where I’ve been or what I like to wear they can ask me.

 

The Divine Joy Of Distance

Have you ever wondered at the principles of the Buddhist faith? At the detachment that many of the faithful present in the face of difficulties? Does it seem all an act?

It may be…and like all acts, it can be well or ill done…but the very motions and disciplines that the Buddhists go through serve them in any case. it is like the Jews doing rituals that make them think about morality – sometimes it works.

But distance is the thing. If you can master the use of distance, you can make daily life so much better for yourself and others:

a. Distance yourself from inordinate desires. Feed yourself, of course. Clothe, house, and entertain yourself. Educate yourself. Ensure yourself against disease if possible. But do not chase wealth, power, sex, or sensation too avidly. You may be forced to catch it.

b. Distance yourself from people who distress you. Running away is necessary sometimes and staying away even more so.

c. Distance yourself from dangerous places, people, and activities. See (b. ) above.

d. Distance yourself from argument. Not just from arguments that others are engaging in, but from argument that you start. Most things are not worth arguing about.

e. Distance yourself from idiocy. Not all folly is idiotic, as Erasmus of Rotterdam might say, and not all folly is harmful…but sheer idiotic behaviour is never good for anyone. You can rarely stop it, but you can anticipate it, and be somewhere else listening to the sirens in the night.

If this all seems to make you…well…distant – use your new-found reputation as a cool head to advantage. It may be so for yourself and others – you may be a calming or moral  influence far beyond what you do for yourself.

The Obscene Joy Of Politeness

I used to own about eleven different firearms – from rifled muskets to revolvers to shotguns. There were bayonets and swords and spears and bows and arrows enough in the house to hold a regular historical reign of terror. Yet I never did – I found that none of the weapons ( and that is exactly what they were, despite the mealy-mouthing of the Sporting Shooters Association ) could cause as much accurate destruction as my books of etiquette.

Emily Post can hit harder than a 17 pounder gun. And you can turn her onto anyone – young, old, rich, or poor. She comes with impenetrable armour as well – you fight from a secure position.

Our nation has many rude people. Many crude people. Many people who use obscenity and bluster to dominate all conversations and exchanges. Yet none of them can do the slightest damage to a person who behaves in a gentlemanly or ladylike fashion consistently. Good form and good behaviour is a position from which one never need never resile. They carry the day.

But how can you do this in the face of rude behaviour? By behaving in precisely the same fashion as if the behaviour is polite. Or at least subject each circumstance, person, or conversation to a graded response:

a. If all is well, and the other people are polite, be cheerful, gracious, and friendly.

b. If the situation is well, but the others are cool or standoffish, still be polite. You need not strain cheer past the limits of grace.

c. If the encounter is rude, be civil. Civility is the bottom line of behaviour and can not be criticised later. Keep your responses and actions to those of a reasonable person – as defined in law – and you are safe from the law.

In all these three cases, you hold the upper hand with your response – you give or withhold as the circumstances demand, and if you always treat others better than they treat you, you are the moral victor.

Facebook’s Community Standards

Or Hold The Stainless Banner High…*

I’ve been scolded by Facebook for posting a story in my column that deals with scale model building – a story in 8 or more parts. It’s the history of the Royal Ruritanian Army Air Force and Facebook thinks it is spam. And says that it contravenes Facebook community standards.

I have to admit, it doesn’t contain:

a. Sneering memes about an American President or Australian Prime Minister.

b. Thoughts and prayers.

c. Sneering references to thoughts and prayers.

d. Cat videos.

e. Advertisements that have been paid for by businesses based upon my browser history.

f. Games that seek to find out people’s preferences so that the information can be sold to advertisers.

So, yes, my columns do not conform to Facebook community standards. If they did I should be deeply ashamed.

I wonder if Facebook is ever deeply ashamed…?

*   I was listening to the old Civil War song of this name…but I can’t be sure if the lyrics mentioned ” stainless ” or ” brainless “… which would explain a great deal about the current problem.