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.

 

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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.

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

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?