The Assumption Of Social Media

It happened again today. I sat down in my lounge room with a friend and had a conversation. The computer was off and I made no typographical errors. Both he and I seemed to be making intelligent statements and not once did we break out into a political meme or a picture of a cat. And neither of us invited the other person to play a brightly-coloured game. I’m a little creeped out at present.

Is this the start of an actual thing – this business of talking face to face and not using emojis? ( I will admit to making several emoji faces, but my friend just asked whether I had swallowed a teaspoon.

It all came about by him deciding that Facebook was eating up too much of his spare time, and by analysing the bulk of the posts and conversations…and then deciding that many of them were not as attractive or as helpful as a blank screen. And he’s not the only one – I have a regular weekly meeting with another friend ( at least I’m regular, but then fibre biscuits will do that for you ) where we do much the same thing. The topics are far-ranging and there are no advertisements to endure. So far neither of us has put the other one on time-out for a month.

Social media assumes that we want to see all that we do see. It tries by means of computer logging and recording to find out exactly what we want to look at, with no responsibility save that of the shill to provide anything else. It is the snoop and the sneak at the edges of our conversations with others – always piping up with what it hopes is a catchy phrase or picture. The click-bait scams are, quite frankly, just a form of intellectual pornography.

It assumes we are more foolish and venal than we really are. That we can be cozened into doing small useless things and that we will be willing to set these things onto other people in a chain of folly. This may seem to be annoying and insulting, but really is a valuable thing. It enables you to see who within your circle of acquaintance is gullible enough to borrow money from. Though I should be quick – by the time the click-bait advertisers get to them, they may have spent it already on lemon peelers and facelift hooks.

Like the moon landings, this experience of actual human interaction is one small step for mankind. Who knows whether it may ultimately lead to turning Facebook off altogether. Only time will tell.

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The Next Best Thing To Sliced Bead

The next best thing to sliced bread is not, as the advertisers would have you believe, a new electronic gadget or app. It is not an item of clothing or a kitchen appliance. It is cheese and pickle.

Thus another popular saying ( here in Australia ) goes for a Burton. North American readers can also go for a Burton but they’ll have to hunt out an English pub or beer shop to do it. Elizabeth Taylor went for a Burton…

Do you think that popular sayings and buzz-phrases are getting to be clichéd? You’re not wrong, Narelle. And we are being bombarded with more of them every day, thanks to the very screen you are looking at. They can become a burden after a while and we long for good old-fashioned communication like you got before the War. When men were men and women were women and the ABC announcers dressed up in suits and ties to read scripts over a radio microphone.

I think it is time to take back this level of earnestness and style. To re-assert the right of everyone to be elegant. Therefore:

a. Henceforth this column will be written while fully  the author is fully dressed. No more old green bathrobe and slippers. No more typing while wearing nothing but a wet towel. Or less.

b. No more buzz phrases – or at least none that are currently in use on Facetwit or that other slightly profane site; Instadamn.

c. All words will be correctly spelled and supplied in correct grammatical form. And the correct spelling may not be what the biased Spell Checker at the top of the WordPress menu would have it. I have been watching this suspect program and seen several howlers pass its scrutiny. It may be time to finally decide whether British English or American English is to prevail…though the Canadian compromise might be adopted for the sake of convenience. Whichever one is chosen, there will be protests from the grammatically arrogant.

d. Colourful local words and phrases like ” Crikey ” and ” Stone the crows ” will be permitted but must be put in the mouths of colourful locals. Direct quotes only, preferably from a scaffold.

e. I have no objection to foreign words creeping in as long as they then creep out again.

f. No-one would expect to have a brain surgeon or waist gunner perform their special tasks while eating a Subway  tuna-fish sandwich. Likewise the readers do not want their literature bedaubed with taco sauce or biscuit crumbs. Henceforth the desk will be cleared of plates while the column is being typed. This will have the added benefit of not requiring a new keyboard after Spaghetti Night.

g. I shall occasionally introduce a new word or phrase to cover a particular point of communication and then repeat it enough times over different platfoms to set it in the public mind. Most of this will be done in a spirit of jollity and kindness, with the appropriate amount of savagery. This process of forcing language upon the unwilling shall be known as motting the rubes.

I do not expect them to be grateful, but I shall be satisfied when they start doing it to each other.

A Gentle Thank-You

a. To people who read my weblog columns and get the humour. And laugh.

b. To people who read the columns and do not get them and then grumble. This gives me an opportunity for laughter.

c. To people who still talk to me.

d. To people who have cut me dead.

e. To people who read my material in hopes that I will get better at writing. If it is any consolation to you, I hope I will get better as well. If there was a spell-Check for thoughts I might have a chance.

f. To the people who make Facebook as crassly stupid as it is. They do not raise any faith in mankind, but they let me feel superior to something. Not quite as good as canned chili but better than a suggested post.

g. To people who do not tailgate me at dusk when I am in an unfamiliar neighbourhood. May your tyres always maintain pressure and your seatbelt never pinch.

h. To people who keep appointments.

i. To people who help me with technical enquiries – but only if they are right.

j. To people who speak loudly enough to be heard and slowly enough to be understood.

k. To people who do not bring takeaway containers of coffee out and sip while we are in conversation.

l. To waiters and waitresses who do not hover. If I want another beer I’ll call for it; if I want a helicopter I’ll call Sikorski.

m. To book store owners who put good things on remainders tables at low prices.

The Tube Of Toothpaste

If you would like to increase the happiness in your life, get a tube of toothpaste. Or of strawberry jam, haemorrhoid cream, or any other semi-solid commodity. The actual contents are not important – it is the delivery system.

Take the top off and squeeze a little – and a little useful product comes out. Whether you spread it on your teeth, toast, or tush is up to you, but observe that after you squeeze, the tube gets a little smaller and a little wrinkled. Continue squeezing and eventually it is all out.

And at this point the company that sold you that tube is not required under any law of the universe to refill it at their expense. You go buy another tube.

So it is with employers, acquaintances, friends, and relations. They can squeeze you like that tube – and out comes money, work, possessions, attention, praise, and any other useful thing that you might contain. And just like the toothpaste tube, one day they will squish the last drop of whatever out of you.

And you’re not required by law to instantly refill yourself for them.

If you’re a wise toothpaste tube you’ll have noticed what was going on long before this point – and you might decide that you don’t want to be flat and empty. That’s the time to clog your nozzle. Then you can preserve some of your self-esteem for yourself. And the user can go out looking for another toothpaste tube.

And at that point you are entitled to insist that they put the cap back on.

What Is The Correct Response To A Virtue Signal?

We all know the correct response to a number of signals we receive:

a. When a person tips their hat to us we acknowledge the compliment by returning it as fully as we can in the circumstance. If we are bareheaded we might nod or bow in our turn. Both sides are satisfied with the polite exchange.

b. When an oncoming driver very briefly flashes their low beams, we slow to the speed limit and give them a finger wave off the steering wheel – while looking ahead for the Multinova.

c. When a warship fires a shot across our bow we prepare to be boarded or to fight back.

There are a hundred such exchanges everyday that we know how to cope with. Yet what shall we do when someone sends out a blatant virtue signal on an internet social media page?  I mean besides starting up and firing off a string of insults. What alternative is available?

Well, first we could just ignore it. That’s probably the most helpful thing to be done. The virtue signal generally will do no good or bad of itself and the thing to do is to keep it in a state of suspension until it fades away.

If it doesn’t fade – if the person renews it, waving their goodness ever closer to our eyes…we can send back a message agreeing wholeheartedly with them. This may be simple enough to do, because in most cases they will have espoused the side of goodness and we all need some of it in our lives. Not crammed down our throats, you understand, but somewhere in the comforting background.

Then we turn up the wick a little – give enthusiastic feedback to the virtuous that becomes ever more and more intense…we may not have a problem with the signals in the future. The signaller may remove themselves to a distance and crouch down behind the sofa in case we see them.

All this said, I like to be virtuous from time to time. It allows me easier access to the drawing rooms of the upper classes. And they frequently leave valuables unguarded.

 

 

 

I Blame The….

a. Police…when people who are committing crimes are chased and caught and jailed and made to be unhappy. This is not right. A criminal has a constitutional right to do crime…based upon their ethnicity and their desire to do crime. The police want to punish this and it’s an outrage.

b. Police…when people are injured or die evading them after committing crimes. A person who does crimes is supposed to escape from the police because I have seen it on the telly and in the movies. If they do not succeed it is a basic assault on human rights.

c. White people. Because it has proved to be an effective way to get publicity and eventually get paid for it. And it would be wrong to prevent a successful business from flourishing.

d. Society. In case there are successful people with money that can be accessed who are not white. They are guilty too…of being successful.

e. Pauline Hanson. Because everyone hates her and if I blame her I look virtuous.

f. Pauline Hanson’s former partners and party members. Hard to tell who’s being nasty to whom, but I figure that when you see a head you kick it.

g. Donald Trump. I get kewl points for this and Trump is so far away that I never get pulled up for it. I tried blaming Hilary but I got an email with a picture of a horse’s head in my bed. So I just blame Trump for everything…I’m no fool.

h. Vaccines. And when that doesn’t work I blame non-vacc people. The effect is the same – I get publicity.

i. Schools. Well, we all hated school, didn’t we, and we made sure that our kids knew that it was the right way to be…the hating, I mean. So now when they screw up royally, it’s all the school’s fault. Stands to reason, eh?

j. The flag and the anthem. Well, it worked for Kaepernick, didn’t it? I might get a lucrative shoe contract if my kid won’t stand up at school assembly. Worth a try, innit?

 

Never Apologise For Saying You’re Sorry

Because if you do, somewhere a Canadian Prime Minister dies.

Mind you, Australians are also into the Sorry game. We’ve been forked into it by successive federal governments – and successful lobbyists – who have arranged for us to maintain a permanent attitude of apology to anyone who has decided to hire lawyers to demand it.

It is a business that changes frequently at the behest of university professors and radical writers. We are presented at intervals with scripts read out on private and public occasions that can be frankly bizarre. The most recent one I heard was an acknowledgement of aboriginal tribal elders prior to a middle east belly dance show held in a Croatian soccer club’s function centre. With portraits of HM Queen Elizabeth and Marshal Tito looking down over the crowd. Frankly, Salvador Dali couldn’t have drawn a more surreal spectacle.

For myself, I agree to apologise for any of my sins that have been detected. So far these have been remarkably few, and as I age, I move out of the danger zone. I still have sins, but people tend to think of them as charming peccadillos. I am not so much forgiven as tolerated. I am hoping to live long enough to get to the point where people will actually pay me for my errors of judgement. Then I can anticipate a steady income…

Should you apologise for the actions of your ancestors…or for the ancestors of other people? Should you apologise for being a migrant in a nation of migrants? Or a native in a nation of natives? Will it not be enough for you to apologise for your own follies, and leave those of others to them and to history?

I think so. I can find a number of cultural links that could place me in either the apologetic or the offended groups…and I would find myself frowning at myself and demanding compensation for things done 100 years ago by people I have never seen. The effort of doing the cultural book-keeping would be insurmountable…

I think I will just leave the past to cope with itself and concentrate on doing my own terrible things in the future.