It Must Be True – Because I Read It

A. And if it wasn’t true they wouldn’t have printed it…

B. Because I read it. Me. Not some other unimportant person. Me.

C. And anyway, if it wasn’t true, it ought to be true.

D. Because I want it to be true.

F. No, I don’t remember where I read it. I just did. Somewhere.

G. And why are you asking all these questions? Are you a communist? You sound like a communist…

H. Because you’re asking all these questions, that’s why.

I. Go on – prove you’re not a communist.

J. That’s not proof. Anyone can belong to the Republican party and be a Catholic and a Knight of Columbus. You probably have DAS KAPITAL in your bookcase.

K. I’ll bet you voted for Trump. Or Putin. Or Clinton. Go-on. Try to weasel out of that one.

L. Well you would have if you were a citizen. That just goes to show you.

 

 

 

 

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Possible Is Not The Same As Probable

And neither of them are proven. All three terms are separate in the language and the law. Time to separate them in social media.

Let us take the case of a public figure: Ronald Gump, the President of the Republic of North Mexico. Mr. Gump has the problem that his election angered his political opponents to such an extent that they have never let him be in peace to actually act as president.

They’ve found that the astute use of the social media can keep the man in the firing line of constant abuse and ridicule – even if there is no basis upon which to found this. All they need is people who are of the same mind* as they to keep passing and re-passing the memes – to keep suggesting and sneering and accusing and hinting. Once they start these things off, all they have to do is put in some suggestive headline – no matter how trivial  – to keep the ball rolling.

Mr. Gump would have been wise at the start of his presidency to ignore the social media entirely – as notice taken or anything said merely serves to fuel more hatred. The quick internet response can be a very damaging phenomenon.

The gravest casualty of this whole affair has been the faith which sane people used to put in the media – a credulity that has been largely destroyed. The term ” fake news ” has supplanted the older ones of ” propaganda ” and ” lies ” and makes things seem somehow more amusing and less harmful. ” fake ” is fake, and fake is never good.

*  I may have used the wrong word there. It probably should have been ” mindless “.

Fast And Furious

The Fast And Furious  title seems to appear on a number of things – motion pictures, toys, models, appearances, etc. It heralds motor car chases, firearms, and gasoline explosions. I should imagine that a number of the participants will wear revealing clothing – which may be offered for sale at licensed establishments. I don’t know whether it is associated with a snack food or chain of restaurants, but it is still early days.

I do encounter F&F enthusiasts on the streets and freeways of Perth, however. They are distinctive in their grey and black cars that look all alike and their driving style: Zoom up behind someone, flash the high beams, honk, and dive around them…to then slow down to the same speed as the rest of the slow lane.

I don’t think that they have road rage. I think they just have rage, and it is probably evident everywhere they go and in everything they do. They are probably fast and furious in the grocery store, at the post office, and in the toilet. That would explain the sounds of the explosions in there…

What I’m really hoping for is a series of popular movies and commercial spin-offs entitled The Slow And Considerate. It could still have very small explosions but the motor cars need not tumble end over end. No-one need be covered in oil. They get to wear comfortable garments and use thee air conditioner. And the behaviour of the S&C fans on the freeway would take place mostly in the left lane, but not during rush hour. There would be courteous merging.

 

I Am Not A Monster

While I admit to being a senior citizen, model maker, and studio photographer – serious charges in themselves – I must deny the assertion that I am a monster of cruelty. I do not mock the afflicted nor harass the indigent. I am kind to animals, with the exception of mosquitos and cockroaches. I obey traffic signs and harsh words from the wife.

Thus, when I receive evidence that a friend has fallen for some sad internet hoax, I do not point the finger of scorn. I take pity upon them and remain silent. This is not the silence of collusion – it is commiseration. I, too, know what it is to be fooled by plausible tricksters…and I’ve lost money to them. The last thing I should want when I finally detect  fraud is to have to bear scorn as well as loss.

Friends – there are any number of trolling, fyshing, scamming productions that can come through your social media or through general searching on the net. Whenever you see something that is either too good or too bad to be true, it is just that. You do not need to fear, nor to react, to any of it. But if it helps to relieve a little of the tension, by all means open up the Snopes website and see if the thing that is troubling you has been debunked there. In most cases you will find that this is so.

Even with the most innocent of enquiries, answers can be harvested that will do you or someone else harm. The best thing to do is not give any answers on the net. Anything that you need to ask or answer can be dealt with between you and your physician, dentist, lawyer, religious adviser, or 6th grade home room school teacher. If it is really heavy-duty stuff you can call in a policeman or a magistrate. These are the individuals who have real power for good in your world. Depend upon them.

The internet has been a blessing for a lot of us – I mean, who wants to go out into the street looking for a cat on a rainy night when you can get a picture of one on Facebook? But it is a cursèd blessing, and the curse is the easy way it makes nonsense sound like truth.

Remember that if you forward this to ten of your friends, nine of them will wind the toilet paper the wrong way on the roll and the tenth will use bunched up newspaper…

Le Coup – Troisième Colonne

This column should really be subtitled ” Le Coup Numerique ” as it deals with the social cut on digital media. This was not an option in the 19th century, but I’ll bet they would have had a ball with it…

Social media – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al – seems to be an electric slate onto which nearly anything can be written. Better still – anything can be drawn, cut, or pasted. The sources of the postings can be as truthful as mathematics or as false as marketing. It is all grist for the mill and the mill is speeding up.

If you wish to cut someone publicly on Facebook, you can. The vilest insults and coldest sneers can be typed out and sent with one press of a button. The fact that you may get a reputation as a troll is neither here nor there – you might live under a bridge and welcome any notice taken of you…

But this is not the most sophisticated use of the medium for the coupeur…the best tool is found in the settings that decide who remains within your electronic circle of friends. It has always been possible to de-friend people on your list – and to block approaches from others. It’s now possible to ” snooze ” contacts for 30 days, though this is more a cooling-off mechanism for you than for them.

Perhaps the best analogy for the social media site is that of a cocktail party. You would do best to be bright and cheerful whilst attending – not to cut people dead when there – and not to start awkward discussions about sex, politics, or religion. That makes you a welcome guest, and one who gets more invitations.

If you wish to be a curmudgeon, backstabber, or villain, get yourself a WordPress page and start writing a regular column…

Note: I have used the Facebook de-friend option five times myself. To some extent it was an over-reaction and a misunderstanding of the mechanism. In the future, I think I’ll just use the ” block ” option for this social platform. It will do the business more politely.

 

Le Coup – Deuxième Colonne

The written coup is a more interesting intellectual exercise than the spoken one – requiring as it does the same motif but adding the need for writing ability, opportunity, and method of delivery. It can be a rarer and more dangerous thing.

a. Direct letters from you to the person you wish to cut are not very common. Few people choose to send a direct confrontation that brooks no misunderstanding. Letters expose your intention, and can be kept for evidence. They invite return communication in a way that a spoken cut does not.

They have the advantage of being private if you so direct them – registered mail to be signed for with an external note that it is private and confidential usually succeeds in this. Placing a sealed envelope directly into the hand of the victim is even surer.

Any disclosure of the contents is then for the recipient – they may wish to explode publicly or privately. But they cannot accuse you of defamatory publication.

b. Public posting is much more dangerous, as it can lead to legal action. If you make your cut public knowledge you cannot retract it or hide it – the best you can do is make it vague. This is the basis of any number of social media posts.

Some people do need public posting, particularly if the public needs protection from them. This is rarely the job of a private person, though, as they generally do not have all the facts of a case, and in any case do not have the authority of police or court to back them up. In all instances it is best to discuss it with the staff at the police station desk and be guided by their advice.

c. Official complaint is not really within the purview of this column’s subject, but if you need to make one, make it through the correct channels if possible. Start low and polite and if you are taken notice of – be satisfied with that. Quit there. If you are ignored, go one step higher, but still be polite. Arm yourself with the name and rank of whoever failed to address your first approach. You may find that you have to climb many administrative steps to get to a real response, but remember that in Australia a real response is possible.

If you are a crank, ignore the above advice.

 

Well Goodness Gracious Me

I have been resigned for a long time now to the sound of the telephone ringing just before tea-time. It’ll be the land line – not the mobile – and it will have the classic silence and clicking before a subcontinental voice comes on and lies to me.

The lie will be one of the classics  – Telstra Technical Department, Microsoft Technical Support, Australian Taxation Office, Australian Federal Police, roof solar panels,etc.

It will commence with the voice asking me if I am Mr. Stein, or the householder. I have learned to ignore this question and ask directly to whom I am speaking. Generally they will give a first name and a slightly mumbled organisation name. Very few of them ever admit to being a Gupta or a Ranjit…it is always a Brad or a Janet. In many cases you can hear the Hindi being screeched in the background and in one instance I could swear I could hear the humidity…

I’ve tried everything. Abruptness, sugary sweetness, baffled confusion, a heavy German accent…none of it seems to stem the flow of bullshit from the receiver’s earpiece. It’s only a whim or the effect of the afternoon cocktail that makes a difference between swearing at them and singing to them. But I grow tired of it – especially when I have better things to do.

So now I am going to start firing off a series of letters of complaint to the only authority who can put a stop to it – the Indian government. If they are going to host these electronic bedbugs, they can be held up for airing as well as the bedding. I’m sure it will be for the most part futile, but the pleasure to be had in abusing a dignitary for a dollar is cheap enough amusement.