Cleaning The Meme Off Your Shoe

Prior to subscribing to Facebook, I had never heard the word “meme”. After I leave it, I’m rather hoping that I never hear it again.

I am not resistant to ideas – nor to clever expressions. I look to the history of literature for wit and witticisms. However, I am afraid when I am dealing with this giant of the social media world, that I am getting only a portion of what I might. Half-witticisms, if you will, from the keyboards of half-wits. Vast concepts trimmed to the tastes of the half-vast.

Most items are reasonably harmless in themselves – cats, dogs, and otters and the occasional horse doing funny things. I like the Liz Climo cartoons -as well as a number of other small, harmless drawings. I can stand sunrises and pictures of the sea. I always like airplane pictures.

But some memes are not witty, nor are they pleasant, useful, or fair. If they are attached to politics or religion they are frequently picked up by the least thoughtful of the community and plastered about with abandon. Would that they could be abandoned long before they actually hit the screen.

In today’s political climate, I also wonder if the clever meme has been invented and inserted onto the platform by the disinformation teams from each party – thence to be repeated by the parrots of the net. I don’t value being preached to or railed at by friends on the behalf of strangers.

The answer? Well, that may be mild, or drastic. I’ll experiment with July’s crop of scolding and see which option seems most appealing. I would regret losing the connectivity of some parts of the social media scene, but I would regret losing my happiness and temper even more.

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The Quiet Season Starts

Monday was the first day of my pledge not to react to Facebook taunts. I publicly promised to read the thing as usual for a month but not edit what I see.

It was, perhaps, a rash decision – coming as it did just on the month that contains Dominion Day, Independence Day, and Bastille Day. All occasions that may draw forth the bray of the Great Australian Ass on social media. I am now bound to hear it but ignore it…

Fortunately I can still write my own thoughts in my own columns, and hope that someone in the great somewhere reads every word. But even here I am bound by the laws of gentlemanly behaviour not to attack people with scurrilous rumour and unsubstantiated slander. I am not allowed to mock the afflicted. It’s most disheartening.

However, good will come of it. At the same time that I am reading, marking, and inwardly writhing at the stupidity and bias of Facebook posters, I am going to be making a daily note of the way the site works. I’ll make a list of the postings that I see based upon:

a. Normal cheerful posts. ie kittens, babies, dance shows, hot rod cars, etc. Things that make me happy.

b. Cries for attention done in a genuine manner or similar cries done by copying and posting some senseless thing plucked of a North American website.

d.Noxious political propaganda – whether it be a shared rant or an original piece of bad humour or bad taste. Things that make me feel bad.

e. Advertisements. These also make me feel bad, but not in a personal sense – they are just an intrusion.

f. Messages. This section is generally of quite some use to me -a secondary link to people that can get a faster response than an email or postal contact.

In addition, I shall log the number of minutes each day spent on Facebook.

At the end of the month I’ll have a good idea whether I’m personally getting more happiness or more sadness from the social network. It is not a judgement on the people involved per se, but rather an analysis of what it has actually become for me.

Then the second part of the experiment in August…

Carrie Nation Has Risen From The Grave

And she still has the tomahawk…

Australians who frequent social media sites on the internet have just been served a moral googlie – we’ve been bombarded with a high-sounding call to abstain from the Demon Rum for the month of July. This is advertised as alternately a shaft of saving grace beamed from Heaven, or a warm and fuzzy feel-good socialist fire-side chat.

I prefer to think of it as a crock of shit. Let me explain…

The call to righteousness assumes that we are sinful – or at least wrongful. That we harm ourselves and our families and the planet and little fuzzy kittens by drinking wine, beer, or spirits in the month of July. There are dark hints that we must do better…or risk the disapproval of the people who want us to abstain.

That is interesting. Why should we care about the disapproval of unseen and unknown entities? Particularly if they are the sort of organisations that scold on Facebook. Are they the touchstones and guiding pillars of our lives? Along with Candy crush and ” What is your Viking name? “.  Is it possible that this is all a load of hooey?

It is.

The scolders who advocate a dry July, stretching as far as next century, want us to do something else – not with our time or our digestion – they want us to do it with our money. They want us to give it to them. Because we will then be moral, and presumably fit to enter the Kingdom of Heaven…or at least the Kingdom of Zukerberg…

Do as you will. If you think you are a drunk because you down a bottle of wine a week and have immoral thoughts, smash the glass in the fireplace and set your mind on higher things. I intend to Up Spirits each afternoon at 15:00 hours and take beer with dinner. I am even prepared to join you in a toast Carry Nation and her tomahawk, but be warned – if you disrupt my table you will be thrown into the street.

 

The Screech Of The We’re-Idiot

The Irish used to fear the screech of the banshee. So did the landing crews of the HMCS BONAVENTURE, but that was a slightly different matter. The wailing and unearthly sounds in both cases portended doom and disaster, but in the case of the Canadian aircraft carrier it was their jet squadrons landing back aboard…

Now we have a new fear to chill us in the night – the we’re-idiot who uses Facebook as a sounding board for their political and religious opinions. You may not hear them, but you see them, and the sight of yet another Anti-Trump rant or Millenial Moan is enough to drop the social temperature a good ten degrees.

We’re -idiot? Derived from the expression ” We’re outraged “.

It will only get worse – though I’m happy to say that the very worst of it will echo overseas. The American election will occupy the net for months and while our local were-idiots will foam and snarl, it will be as nothing to the exchanges in the USA. We’ll get the occasional echo here as the locals try to develop adequate outrage, but by and large it will be small stuff directed at a Prime Minister who is made of beige in a parliament that is painted taupe. We lack really savage causes, even though we do have some pretty classic savages.

The best we seem to be able to do lately is to foam about a football player who is a fundamentalist. Many of us do not care for his opinion nor for his attempts to collect sympathiser’s money, but then many of us do not care for the witch-hunt that has prompted this, either. We would be happy if he, his detractors, and his supporters were to take their money and their memes and go away. We will not pursue them.

 

Nearly July, And I Am Going To Go Dry

Oh, I’m not going to stop drinking. Good Lord, don’t jump to ridiculous conclusions…No need for crazy talk.

I’m going to conduct the experiment on Facebook during July of not removing anything. No hiding ads or shares that people put up. No taking down rants and political propaganda.  No snoozing or unfollowing people. No unfriending. No untoward reactions to anything.*

It will be a strain. I will be forced to see, but pass by, the worst of the drivel that appears on screen. I will not post corrections of typos or humorous suggestions. I will not try to push people over the edge of madness.  The people I know teeter there much without any help from me.

I shall practice Will Roger’s advice about not passing up a chance to shut up – and I will see if I feel better or worse at the end of the month. I will either have been destroyed by the flood of folly or find myself completely unaffected by it. I can’t say right now which prospect is most appealing.

*  I may have filed one person away for 30 days, but that is to prevent homicide.

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.

 

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.