Have You Seen The News?…And My Opinion Of The News…?

We get news all day, every day. There’s not a single minute in which another report of another event is not being slotted into our stream of consciousness. The older ways of doing this are becoming passé for many parts of the planet, but there will still be newspapers, broadsheets, and people crying the latest in the village square for the forseeable future. It may be an electric cry, but it’ll be there.

What a burden. Think back to an earlier time – for instance here in Australia during the first years of European settlement. Local news was what you found out personally or were told by a neighbour. A traveller from another port could bring a printed broadsheet or government gazette. Itinerant pack sellers and carters could pass messages – accurate or not – as they went through. But there must have been blessedly long intervals in which nothing more was thrust upon our minds, and they could get on with the business at hand without new anxieties.

I wish that were the case today. I am not pleading for complete ignorance, but I’d appreciate a bit of time to absorb one disaster before I need to wring my hands over the next one. I get sore hands.

I also get a sore head when I see how people on social media take each event, and the reaction to that event by others, as an opportunity to push their own barrow. Whether that barrow contains a political package, a religious suggestion, or a portable virtue flag on a stick, it is still a vehicle that has little to do with the actual occurrence. Fortunately the load is generally of such little value and such light construction that it can be abandoned by the side of the road when the next attractive disaster is reported.

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Harmony And Harmonica Are Two Diffferent Words

Are you on Facetwit? Or Googram? Do you respond to your phone, computer or tablet every time it makes a dinging sound? Are you a modern version of a Pavlov dog?

Congratulations – you are a prime candidate for Le Régiment Zukerberg. Also known as the 101st Internet Lancers. The Old Brigands. You are the person that they want  – because they can make you do anything that they want you to do – and do it willingly.

If you are suspicious of this, consider your history on the internet:

a. Do you write your own material or just ” share ” what they lay in front of you? Are you advancing on your own recognizance or are you led…or driven?

b. Do you respond predictably? Can they count on you to share, tweet, like, or proselytize just as directed?

c. Do you do this for free? Or do you pay for the privilege of doing it?

d. Are you passionate? So passionate that you will embrace anything that you’re told to embrace? Would you do this physically at the bidding of a master? There’s always a place for a willing prostitute, so don’t worry if the answer’s yes.

e. Can you be turned quickly from one opinion to the opposite if Central Command decrees it? Are you ready to applaud the Brest – Litovsk treaty one week and declare class war the next?

f.  Are you willing to ignore the bad behaviour of other people if it is useful to your party? And to find cause for outrage in the mildest opposition?

If you can agree to some or all of these observations, you too can be a social media instrument. An instrument of power – of vengeance – of justice. Also of propaganda, of deceit, and of treachery. What a career you can have.

But be aware that it is not all happiness in the Divine Instruments Of Justice Brigade. While you might think of yourself as a Trumpet Of Glory, the reality may be that you are merely a Harmonica Of Wind. And the sad thing is eventually someone will turn you upside down and rap you against the table to get the spit out.

 

I Become An Influencer*

The cry of the moment is the desirability of becoming an Instagram influencer. But I suspect this – as I suspect most aspects of modern computer life. The suspicion is that the whole circus has passed Instagram by and is way off down the road doing far cooler things to far hotter people. Or vice versa.

I was once accused of being an influencer by a representative of a wholesale camera firm who thought he was not getting enough coverage for his products in my commercial column. He insinuated that another firm had bought me with a free camera. In reality they alerted me to their products with the freebie and I went and spent a vast amount of money on their goods out of my own pocket. Any reports I made were genuine. And as far as pressuring people into following me, the customers have the minds of cats, not sheep. They rarely purr, are not herdable, and occasionally throw up in your shoe.

But back to Instagram. I was cozened into subscribing to it by someone who likes to show off on it and wanted another viewer. I’ve added a few other contacts and a couple of artists and cartoonists and find it a pleasant light browse while dinner is cooking…but not such a vital artistic service as to cause me to allow the soup to boil dry. I do like the colourful art, but I wouldn’t buy anything because of it. And I really don’t think others would either.

Oh, they’ll buy from paper flyers loaded into the post box. They’ll buy from shopping channels that endlessly bombard them with simple instructions. They’ll buy from door-to-door sales cons and Royal Show spruikers. They’ll buy from Harvey Norman. But I don’t think they’ll buy because I’ve posted toy airplane pictures on Instagram.

*  Or should that be an influenza-er. Come here and I’ll sneeze on you.

The Portrait Portrays

Or betrays. Then it is known as a betrait…

We are all accustomed to internet posts that have an image of the author at the introduction. The facility with which an actual photo can be added to a social site is marvellous – but few people realise what they are either showing or seeing. Frequently the picture trips up both poster and viewer.

I use a construct – a picture taken of myself in the studio wearing my dad’s old khaki shirt ( 60+ years old and still going strong ) a freebie hat I got from Nikon – with their trademark struck out – a pair of binoculars, and a 1:18 scale plastic fighter plane. You are encouraged to think I am an admiral on an aircraft carrier. I particularly admire the resolute look on my face. I think it is most probably wind…

Other people use pictures that have been sliced from phone cameras or worse. They are lucky to be recognisable. A phone selfie in a bathroom making a duck face is a poor advertisement for a duck, let alone a person.

One person I’ve noticed, an internet troll, uses a quasi-mysterious selfie with roiling edges and the expression of a dyspeptic llama. It’s ugly, but damned accurate. He cannot be accused of deceptive trading.

As opposed to these travesties, some people use genuinely beautiful images as their trademarks. It’s a wise move, and even if they do not match up to the image in real life, the picture is so much more with us that we remember it instead of them. It’s a mistake to steal someone else’s beauty, but if you can pay for at least one good shot of yourself, it’s money well spent.

The no-image introduction, or the cartoon character presented in lieu, are as telling as any real image. The person does not wish to give anything away – either of themselves or of their time. Whatever they write is not backed up with any veracity of personal presence – and can generally be flicked over instantly. You can brand yourself well or badly and get the attention of the populace, but when you are a faceless opinion you lose most of your credibility. Even if all you post is a picture of the either end of your alimentary canal, you are making a genuine contact.

I must show you my collection of orifices some time.

 

 

 

They Get To Complain And You Get To Not Care About It

And that is the most efficient way to resolve many problems.

If you’ve got a Facebook account for yourself or through some other group, you’ll have seen the posts that complain about something. They are sincere, sometimes…and self -serving, sometimes…and totally obscure, sometimes. Some people can actually write the trifecta, if they wish.

When they do,they may get a number of reactions:

a. Everyone will ask them if they are alright.

b. Everyone will suggest that they are all wrong.

c. No-one will react at all.

In each case they can derive some benefit from the exercise:

a. They’ll have gotten their pain/opinion/baited trap out to the world for all to see. The internal pressure will have been relieved. In some cases it takes time for the smell to dissipate.

b. They’ll find out whether they have any friends. And what their opinions are. And how they can be goaded in the future.

c. They’ll be able to receive targeted advertisements that touch in some way on every word written. You might not think that the social media engineers can make a credible marketing strategy out of the word ” and ” but you’ll be wrong. The writers should be prepared to be shilled with heavy-calibre ordnance.

The readers will also benefit:

a. They’ll know someone is alive. This may cause them joy or pain.

b. They’ll know all the deepest secrets. If people are dumb enough to write them.

c. Read (b.) again to yourself slowly…

c. They will have an opportunity to explode with rage and/or love. I cannot say which will be worse.

d. They will have been freed from the inclination to ever again have a thought on the subject. A great boon for some topics.

When Someone Starts It Up

The” it ” can be anything – sex talk, politics, religion, a lawn edger…anything. You’ll know it’s ” it ” because everyone will edge away from the speaker and start to examine the paintwork on the cornices. Some will remember appointments and some will answer their mobile phones …” There’s an emergency at work and they need me…”. The fact that they have been retired for years might give you a clue. A clue that the topic is unpleasant, unwelcome, and unnecessary.

The wise person seeing this reaction will pull up and ask themselves whether they have been riding their hobby horse too fast – indulging their rhetoric a little freely – making a right prat of themselves. The unwise person will make use of the deadly silence that has descended on the crowd to get off more Trump jokes or try to convert the infidel.

The unfortunate part of this all is that the social media we all love has pointed us in the diametrically opposite direction from that of previous generations – we are now positively encouraged to be offensive, overbearing, and lewd. And the sad thing is we are being trained to do this to protest against people who are offensive, overbearing, and lewd. We tar ourselves with our own toothbrush.

Let us all resolve and publicly declare that we will be polite, careful, and discrete in the next twelve months. We will set off none of the media trigger wires that they so generously rig across our computer screens. We will cut everyone some slack, even to the point of cutting it so slack that they fall off the edge of the social media platform and are lost forever. We will allow dissent from our obviously perfect understanding of the universe – on the principle that they’ll find out how wrong they are when it’s too late and we’ll laugh at them as they are hauled away in a tumbril to a well-deserved execution.

Where did I put my knitting?

The Curious Case Of The Non – Carer

My normal morning of Facebook is kittens, insurance advertisements disguised as posts, and someone eating something. I can cope with that…but I am stumbling over another sort of posting – the one that states that the person posting it doesn’t care.

The wording is ruder than that…you can go look on your Facebook page and see the words yourself…but it is not the language that puzzles me. It’s the fact that the person posting that they don’t care wants us to care that they don’t care. I think Alice in Wonderland and the caterpillar would have had difficulty playing with that one.

If you really don’t give a fat fiddler’s something or other, why take time out of your day to tell us? You’re wasting valuable minutes that could be spent drinking or eating or sleeping. If you truly don’t care, you cannot care whether we validate your angst or not.

By all means rise up and explode in rage. Call on all the powers and principalities to vindicate you. Burst through flimsy doors with a fire axe. We can all get behind you then and either cheer or condemn you. But don’t present your blasé state of mind to us as if it was a used condom and then expect us to touch it. We know where it’s been…