Fixing Facebook Vs Fixating On Facebook

Well, the two week’s experiment is proceeding pretty well. I am avoiding Facebook for the better part of the day, and just dealing with it in a set period of time in the evening.

It is working out well, on the whole. I am less distracted when it comes to household tasks and can concentrate on my other writing and upon hobby matters.  And I have isolated the two things that most bother me about the social media giant:

a. The fact that people who I quite like to talk to in real life are menaces on the screen. I realise that people will always have different political, religious, moral , and cultural opinions that I may not agree with. I accept that – I know that some of my thoughts may make them quail.

But for the most part when we are face to face we do not trot these out…certainly we do not lambaste each other with them. The conventions of polite society seem to keep us in check.

Not so on the screen. Even though they are not anonymous – I can read who has posted something – my Facebook friends grab some of the most annoying and irksome posts from others and plaster them in my face. It does me no good to click the button stopping these – they are carried to me by the friend, rather than the Facebook service itself.

I am left with only three options; hide all from the friend, unfriend the friend, or grit my teeth and bear it.

b. The vortex of stupid click-bait posts that is any venture off the main page. I’ve learned to avoid any of them. Part of me admires the skill of the shill, but they are still demeaning.

As for the first section, part of me wants to collect a series of appalling memes and inflammatory pages and scatter them out onto the screen myself, with particular references and calls to individual people…but part of me knows that this is not funny – just bad manners. I prefer to be bad-mannered in person.

Heading Image: Lakanuki Atoll 1944

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The Australian League Of Virtuousness

As Right Evil Bastard of the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia, I take great pleasure in announcing the formation of the newest of our branches; The Australian League Of Virtuousness.

The League, as a division of The Guild, will be responsible for promoting goodness instead of badness – virtue instead of vice – and justice instead of tyranny. This will take place on alternate fortnights or on occasions when The Guild is absent for holidays.

Of course, revenue generated by the League will revert to The Guild and be distributed accordingly. As it is expected that the customers for this new service will be in a proportion of 1:5 – as per the Barnum ratio – there may be a considerable time before excess profits are available to return to The League. But we have hopes that light will prevail over darkness eventually at a rate higher than C.P.I.

Aspirants to the League will be required to demonstrate their committment to social justice, temperance, and anything else that can attract dollars or attention. At this point of time we do not plan to practice any religious ceremonies beyond passing the plate.

Please note that virtuousness is not connected with virtuosity. Virtuosity plays on the violin – we play on the nerves.

Holding Facebook’s Beer

I was mildly amused when a Facebook game came by asking me to score points for admitting to foolish/sad/criminal behaviour in my past. And making it public to the entire planet. I mean, how could one resist the temptation to fill in the little chinks in the information brick wall. I’m just a little surprised they didn’t include a section that asked for sexual fantasies and credit card numbers…

Well, here at the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia we feel that this sort of blatant attempt at coercion is all very well, but should not be done on an amateur basis. If you are going to ask people to condemn themselves publicly, you need to give them more tempting chances. If they’re going down the sewer, make it a big one.

To this end, we have devised the following quiz for social media. There are no points scored, unless you count the knowing looks that people will give you at your next party.

Have you ever…

a. Shot a police cruiser in the grill work with a 17 pounder anti-tank gun from a camouflaged position?

b. Flayed an Albigensian heretic?

c. Written a song about your feelings and then played it to people at a party, accompanying yourself on guitar? All 15 verses?

d. Served week-old warm runny egg salad sandwiches from a service station cabinet to people at a church social?

e. Counterfeited a draft card to allow your underage classmates to buy beer at the local liquor store? Then phoned ahead to alert the local police?

f. Removed a ladder from an attic access hatch while someone was up there and then gone quietly home and had a good dinner?

g. Switched tops on the spray-paint cans in the local Bunnings store cabinet?

h. Put salt in the plaster mix of someone who is trying to invest a casting?

i. Invited a religious caller in to tell you their entire story by using an accent rich in unidentifiably foreign sounds, mixed with blatant grammatical error –  and then insisted that they sit down and drink toasts to your country? Used water tumblers full of hard liquor and cooking oil?

j. If they lasted the course, showed them the Albigensian skin…?

 

The Conspiracy Magazine On The Shelf

will do it to myself – every blessed time. When I go to the Lucky Poo-Bah Newsagency and look for model car magazines I always turn round to the rack that has the New-Age and Conspiracy magazines, and – try as I might – I can never stop myself from picking up the latest and having a flip-through.

Aliens, Illuminati, Muslims, chem-trails, assassinations, rogue Popes, secret bunkers…it’s all there, and it’s all there, all the time. The menu changes very slightly from one issue to the next but the diet is always the same.

The one I see in our local Poo-Bah seems to be produced in New Zealand but draws writing from all over the globe. It may be a branch of some other publishing organisation or it may be native to NZ. I should not like to give you the impression that New Zealanders cannot produce world-class idiocy when they want to. They are a resourceful and dedicated people, and they can.

I am in a bit of a bind with this magazine – I want to snort over the nonsense but I don’t want to spend money on it to take it home. And I don’t want people who I know to see me browsing through it at the newsagency – so I have devised a ruse.

I fold it inside a copy of ” Hot Naked Babes With Butt Tattoos Quarterly ” and stand in the aisle ostensibly reading that. I mean – I’ve got my reputation to think of, don’t I?

 

The Creepy Clown Phenomenon

A recent remake of a horror movie has also repeated a strange cultural phenomenon – the amateur creepy clown menacing the local suburbs.

We’ve seen internet posts threatening various areas of the city, followed by defiance from the residents and officially stern warnings from the police that this sort of activity is going to get the teenagers who do it into trouble. This is all to be expected – it is the foolish response to a commercial promotion and the official reaction to it. Predictable.

The Guild takes no stance on this – neither do I personally. While I think it is just one of those things – like presidential elections – that is beneath contempt, I do retain at least small interest in watching and waiting for the inevitable.

Perth has a number of outer-metropolitan suburbs that are still semi-rural. Many of the properties in them are owned by small-plot users, and some of the small plots are used for fruit-growing, wine making, and other activities. The people who own them and engage in these lucrative activities are varied…but many of them have a European migrant background – Italy, Greece, the Balkans, Poland…etc. Lovely decent people who like to live their lives undisturbed by officialdom or by private troublemakers. They often strike me as people who value their privacy, and who are prepared to take vigorous action to preserve it.

I would hesitate to use the term Moustache Pete as it may be a little pejorative. Moustache Piotr or Moustache Petros likewise. But you get my drift.

Could it be possible that some wisenheimer teenager will put on a creepy clown mask and hide along the roadside in one of our outer suburbs. Might they pop out and try to terrify these citizens as they go along the street?

Can you say ” double barreled 12 gauge Boito hammer gun  “? Can you say it in Italian, Greek, or Serbo-Croatian? The sound it makes is remarkably similar in all three languages…

Best to just go back to your video games, children.

The Statue In The Park

I have said before that my flabber is rarely ghasted, but this last week has more than made up for it. Leaving aside the North Korean foolishness, and the predictable nature of the unpredictable, we came to the hot summer rioting in the CSA and the subsequent reactions by various authorities.

This sort of clash is nothing new for the place – I can remember it back in the 1960’s, when the temperature rose and some clash set off a riot. I even seem to recall Baltimore losing a couple of whole city blocks to fire in the middle of one of them….though that may have been Philadelphia or Newark. In any case, late summer, before the kids get back to school, is the traditional time for rioting and looting. If you haven’t got a television by August it is your chance to bring one home before the football starts…

The thought of incipient riots has also proved useful for the Baltimore city administration – allowing them an excuse to edit out any of the civic statues that they don’t like on a prophylactic basis. Fair enough, though given what modern sculpture looks like these days, one could wish that they would widen the scope of their concern and pay for the cranes to take away some of the grottier pieces of new scrap iron art.

As it is, I think they could have saved a lot of work and expense by just hiring a signwriter to re-name the existing statues. Unbolt the bronze plaque that says ” General Lee ” and attach a plate that reads ” Malcom X “. Just scrub out ” Stonewall ” on the Jackson statue and write ” Samuel L. ” in its’ stead. Any one else who might be less recognisable could be tagged as Patrice Lumumba or O.J. Simpson, and everyone would be happy.

Not the rioters, mind. You don’t get a free Motorola by renaming statues…

Here in Australia we have seen a most amazing piece of theatre by Senator Pauline Hanson. For overseas readers, she is a politician from Queensland ( and that is fruitful ground for many, many posts…) who rose to fame by hating Asians* professionally. Now that she has achieved a seat in the Senate, she hates Muslims professionally. To express her dislike for them she paraded into our federal Senate chamber wearing a full-coverage burka garment – then tried to argue that she wants it to be banned.

No, I’m not making this up. It really happened. I don’t have that much imagination.

I do not know whether she has any shares in a restaurant, or owns a pick handle, or plans to change her name to Lester. I don’t really want to think about it. I have an old flabber and if it is ghasted beyond its’ rated pressure anything could blow.

I also don’t want to think about who her next professional hate is going to be. I’m not sure if she has done with the Asians, though she’s gone somewhat quiet about them. The Muslim seam will eventually play out, and she may still be digging.

Perhaps we could get her busy removing statues…

*Mostly to the Chinese, though she was prepared to be unpleasant to Japanese and Thais as well.

” If You Don’t Know…”

” I’m not going to tell you.”

How often have we heard that one? It was the constant litany of the Kool Kids at school when the rest of us asked a question. It was used to make us feel left-out…even more so than to begin with. And it worked very well for the first few times that it was employed. We would go off sad and insulted, and there seemed to be no answer to make.

I bring this up because of a Facebook posting recently that floated past my feed line. It was a topic I would normally have taken no interest in, but it appeared because a friend had entered the general discussion. She was interested in one person’s assertions regarding nutrition, and asked very politely for some references that she could pursue in her studies.

Well, she got a sneering version of the standard reply. And then some equally rude passing commentary from other anonymous sources. It was the schoolyard all over on the internet.

I mentioned earlier that this sort of thing worked well for the first few times. My school days were a long while ago, and it has stopped working – indeed it stopped working long ago. But the interesting thing was that it was a standard ploy used in many situations for a very long period of time.

When I encountered this sort of rudeness from people of my own age I was able to dismiss them as fools or braggarts that had no information or knowledge to back up their assertions. When I encountered it from a lecturer in the University of Western Australia’s Dental School I was taken somewhat aback. But it took a further 10 years of solo practice to harden me enough to respond to it when it happened again.

The chap had moved on to be a specialist consultant in a mechanical branch of dentistry. I had a patient who needed the sort of thing he did – and referred the patient by letter to the specialist. Apparently they did not get on well – and I eventually received a high and mighty letter sneering at me for sending that referral and telling me not to do it again. And I never did – I sent the people who needed a prosthedontic specialist’s attention to other practitioners and everyone was happy. I did have the satisfaction of writing a polite note acknowledging the order*.

I suspect that whenever this sort of thing happens it is because of a number of factors:

a. The person being rude does not know what they are talking or writing about .

b. They have no material to which they can refer.

c. They are naturally ill-mannered. Or they have developed ill manners as a cover for worse characteristics.

d. They are writing from Mom’s Basement, with no other connection to social interaction than the reactions to their trolling posts.

I suppose we can be grateful that at least they are not in specialist practice…

* Good manners in the face of bad is always the best answer. Public good manners is even better…