How To Be Correct Without Being Political

As a person who has done his fair share of offending people in his time, I think I am in a good position to advise others on how to avoid doing the same thing. I would hesitate to address friends about this but strangers may benefit from these handy hints:

A. Do not lie to people or about people. Do not lie on people. Do not lie to yourself.

B. Do not tell other people the truth about themselves. This may seem to be in direct conflict with rule A. above, but there is a delicate difference between telling the truth about where the nearest post box is located as compared to how flabby someone’s arguments are becoming. One’ll get you thanked and one’ll get you punched.

C. Do not present ‘ sights unbecoming ‘ to others on social media. These sights may include pictures of you, friends, or family doing things of a marginal nature. The images may amuse you but won’t have the same effect on others. Keep your peccadilloes hidden. Peccadillo sheaths are sold in all good ironmongers.

D. Do not repeatedly press political, religious, financial, sexual, theatrical, mechanical, or moral opinions on others. By all means state your support for triple-expansion steam valves, the Social-Endymionist Collective, or bi-metallism in a clear and honest manner, if you feel that the times have called upon you to do so. Once. Do it once, and all who know you, will know your thoughts. If you have any entrée to their minds, you will accomplish as much with one quiet message, as you could with the loudest and most repetitive tub thumping. And you will not risk driving them away.

E. Do not tell Irish jokes unless your name is Kelly and you come from County Mayo. Likewise any other joke that involves ethnicity or religion unless you are clearly speaking of yourself. Even then, be careful. Your fellow ethicists, co-religionists, or compatriots may be unwilling to laugh with you about your shared heritage – at least where others can hear. Some groups have no sense of humour about themselves.

F. Do not ape another culture. Even if you admire it and think it is cool and good-looking and wise and sexy. People who you might regard as exotically interesting may regard themselves as just home folks. In particular, do not use accents that are not your own. No-one from Scotland ever wants to hear you speaking in a Scottish accent and no-one from Mississippi ever wants to hear you speak in a fake Southern drawl.

If you would like to test this out without getting punched, try the experiment of going to someone in your own ethnic or national group and speaking to them in a parody of your own shared native accent. Their reaction will be real, and that’s what other people will really think of you ” doing ” their accent.

This is entirely separate from trying to learn a foreign language, and attempting to speak to someone in their own tongue, and getting it horribly wrong. No-one is offended with this…with the possible exception of the French…and even they will patiently try to correct your pronunciation. If you are trying to meet others half-way they all recognise it.

G. Do not ‘ share ‘ internet memes that say the nasty things that you really want to say but cannot bring yourself to utter. It is recognisable cowardice as well as offensive. And it leagues you with some of the vilest minds in society.

Well, that should help a little. It is not the complete Emily Post, but in trying times it may smooth out your social picture and hide a few of the creases. Remember that nothing ever truly goes away on the internet, so if you plan you run for office either here or in your other country, be sure that your Facebook and Twitter will find you out. Mind you, you might get away with it for years and at a Senate or White House salary, that makes a pretty good nest-egg.

Disciplining The Servants

I note from a recent news item that the Commonwealth Government will be monitoring the social media links from people employed as public servants and disciplining those who are critical thereon. I am not surprised at this –  I don’t think that it would be confined to the current party in power, nor to just to federal government – I should imagine similar measures are in place for state public servants as well as local council employees. I certainly know it to be a policy in private industry.

It is in no way different from the rule of any government – whether that be the laxest dictatorship or the sternest democracy. It is simply in reaction to the old fear that grips the lord when he suspects that the servants know his secrets, and have taken an accurate measure of him. He knows they have seen him naked, and fears the laughter of others.

The discipline is simple – in the case of the despot he merely tortures the culprit to death and murders the rest of the family. The federal government demotes, fines, and fires the incautious servant and then murders the rest of the family. Replacing them when others have seen their fate sometimes takes a little longer, unless the public servant secretly harbours the desire to get rid of their family…

It’s a bit hard on the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram friends of a public servant in that they do not want to inadvertently start the whole savage sequence off. Mind you, subscribers to slag-off.com and the Backstabbers Guild Of Australia’s Dob-In-A-Pollie service are exempt from federal law so they can leap in there with both boots. Indeed, they are also exempt from many of the laws of thermodynamics, so feel free to ignite something today.

For my own part, I always think well of a politician. Really I do. They sacrifice their entire lives – their honour, their integrity, their sense of humour…their immortal souls – to draw the daemon of possessing excessive money away from the rest of us and to keep us safe from complacency. I’d award them a medal, but, like many things, I doubt that the little people of Australia would be given a chance to stick it on them.

A Pile Of Pooh

The news that Communist China is banning pictures of A.A. Milne’s characters from internet use came up as a slightly hilarious story in Facebook. Apparently the character of Winnie The Pooh is used as a substitute for the head of the Chinese government in mild political satire. The Japanese Prime Minister is likened to Eeyore and the former American President has been depicted as Tigger. None of the drawn messages are rude, but the fact that they allow the Chinese people to poke fun at authority is considered too dangerous.

I am not surprised at this attitude in Asia. The perceived dignity and prestige of the mighty are so very much more valued than free speech, that no deviation from any sort of party line can be expected to be tolerated. It’s as much Confucian thought as it is Communist.

Personally I think the Chinese leader is making a mistake. If you are going to be seen personified in anything, a child’s favourite book character would seem to be a charming and lovable image to put forward. The world is full of enough monsters as it is… take a good name when you can get it.

Detrolling Your Life – Part Two – The BGA Way

The Backstabbers Guild Of Austalia is nothing if not public-spirited. When we see a wrong we right it. No dragon can threaten a fair maiden when The Guild is present. At least not first.

Ignoring and blocking the troll is still the best legal way to cure the problem. Remember that as you read the list of alternatives.

a. Most trolls are misfits. But that having been said, even the least socially active will have some contact with other people. A job, perhaps, or a family. A club or organisation that they belong to. These are known in the general world as “outlets” for them – to a Guild member they become ” inlets “. Places where the armour of trollery is weakest…

b. Find this place. Make friends with the troll’s friends. In sight of the troll. But do not include them in the discussion.

c. Bad language can be a specialty of the troll and a way that they shock and bear down on their victims. But trolls frequently have only one language to use…at most two. There are many more for you to choose from.

Find a teacher or speaker of a language that the troll does not know. Latvian, Urdu, Samoan…whatever you fancy. Pay them well to teach you some choice foul expressions in their tongue. Real corkers. Curses that would make native seamen blanch and lean against walls. Practise these until you can deliver them faultlessly, and then deliver them faultlessly. Your tone of voice will cut as deeply as if you were speaking English, but you cannot be frowned on for bad language. Occasionally you may horrify a tourist, but that is the price you pay for sophistication.

d. On no account go to a furniture auction and purchase a sturdy kitchen table. Do not wrench off one of the legs and then go and beat your tormentor about the head and shoulders with it. This is illegal. And it spoils what may otherwise be a perfectly good table.

e. Even trolls pay tax. But do they pay the correct amount? The ATO has hot lines over which you can raise this very question.

f. If your troll is physically findable, do so, and go to them and forgive them. Do it publicly, and do it sincerely and in detail, with others listening.

Then do it again the next day. At the same time.

Repeat this for a month – day by day. That hour – the Hour Of Apology – will be come an accursèd time for them for the rest of their life. Once a day your ally, the clock, will haunt them.

g. Do you like to eat and drink well? To dress fashionably and in comfort?  Save up some cash and then arrange to do just this within the sight of your troll. You need not acknowledge them, but you might want to listen for the sound of their teeth grinding together.

In all of the above remember that whatever comfort there is in the sight of an enemy discomfited, there is far better enjoyment to be had in actually forgetting about them. They wither and fall away if not attended, and leave the earth clean for better growth.

 

 

How I Cleared A Social Media Memefield

Well, for a start, I got a meme detector and learned how to operate it. The modern ones have a battery pack that you wear and an electronic probe on the end of a frame that you hold up close to the screen. The meme detector has a small suction motor that draws the air in from around a Facebook posting and sends signals to its computer for analysis. Once the signal is processed the meme detector notifies you via headphones whether the sample is bullshit or not.

The detector is connected via a WiFi transmitter to the snopes.com website and can access all their recent data. If something has been rehashed and presented to the gullible public as a true image or real thing that happened…but is not…this information is sent back to the meme detector and I can be warned. Usually it is done by a discrete red light on the side of the casing, though the new model Fraudbuster 800 will play the sound of a cynical raspberry into the headphones.

None of this will stop well-meaning people from lighting upon something that triggers them off, being taken in, and then re-broadcasting the original meme. But it may prevent me from being taken in far enough to react to the thing, or to cast it further over the heads of the populace. To paraphrase Harry Truman, ” The fuck stops here. “.

A Modest Apology

I wish to apologise for a recent Facebook post that ridiculed Facebook posts. I have been brought to realise that one may ridicule the President of the United States, the Prime Minister of Australia, or the Premier of Russia ( or is that President…? Whatever…) but one does not hold the most popular social media network on the planet up to ridicule. Not if one knows what is good for one…

My legal adviser has urged me to throw myself upon the mercy of the Court Of The Internet and plead for a reduced sentence. Okay, Manny, if you think that would help. Here goes:

I’m sorry that I laughed at the people who share things on Facebook. From early childhood we have been told that it is good to share. Fine advice, when it comes to making 7-year-olds cut a birthday cake into even portions, but not quite so good when the sharing involves foolish opinions and political propaganda. But who are we to say what is foolish? The opinions that are hawked about like broadsheet ballads by People Who Sit At Home may be correct, for all we know. They are not backed up by any personal experience or practical demonstration, but then neither is the selling spiel for a washing machine by some sales clerk in Harvey Norman – they just sell you the box full of white goods. Perhaps the political opinions of formerly successful politicians can wash clothes as well as minds…

Enough, Manny? No? What do you mean, No? Jesus, Manny….Okay, Okay, Moses, Manny, how much grovelling am I expected to do? I’m not Johnny Depp, here…

Take Two: I apologise unreservedly for laughing at the people who share things on Facebook. I realise that they do this for the good of the planet and my soul. I am infinitely grateful for the tired anti-Trump memes…

Manny?

Manny, why are you making that noise? I’m doing the best I can here. I haven’t mentioned Nerium face grease once in the whole apology, and at no time have I yanked the Meminist’s chain. I’m being as good as gold. With a bit of luck I will get through the whole weekend without being unfriended by anyone. What do you mean, you’re crossing me off your list? Crosses, Manny…?

Featured Image: Voting Booths for the constituency of Facebook.

 

Things That I Am Learning From Social Media

There are any number of lessons that life teaches us – all the way from the one about not licking Canadian light poles in January to the business of how to dispose of a disgusting canapé at a cocktail party*. The recent advent of the social media has taught me a few new ones:

  1. If you are unhappy with yourself, you are unhappy with everyone else. If you can develop a mental scenario that focuses this distress upon someone specifically – Muslims, men, or Monsanto for instance – it means that you can relax somewhat – someone is stabbing your back for you…
  2. Personal unhappiness is portable. You can take it anywhere.
  3. Personal unhappiness can be because of personal faults or personal failure…but if you are wise you never admit to it. The world has billions of other people – at least one of them can be selected as the author of your troubles. And even if you are abject, you can afford to blame the rich and powerful – the famous and successful. You can aspire to own the enemy you always dreamed of.
  4. If you can’t quite figure out who your enemy is, you need not fret – one will be provided for you. And they need not be obviously evil – I’ve heard bad things about the Dalai Lama, and not just from a Chinese government spokesperson. Fortunately I am under no contractual obligation to believe it.
  5. Personal distress is distressing, but socially salable. If you are prepared to accept emojis and the word ” hugs ” as a substitute for thinking and actual assistance, you can be comforted 24 hours a day. Don’t be afraid to collect these as they cost nothing.
  6. ” Meme ” is a new word. It is newer than ” wisecrack “, ” vulgarity “, or ” propaganda “. One day it will be an old word, so use it now while it is fresh.
  7. Lists are read by everybody. I think they keep on to the end in the hopes that it will either get better or worse. It always does.
  8. The acquisition of a new contact on Facebook is pretty standard – either you or they accept a request. The disposal of the acquaintance is a more delicate matter – akin to disposing of the blood pudding canapé we mentioned before. You can ignore them entirely, but still continue to see their posts, hide their posts, unfollow them, or unfriend them – each of these a step further into disengagement. I like to imagine further steps – ones that allow us to actively insult and then physically assault the former Facebook friend. The trouble with this is that the social app is truly worldwide and it would be expensive to fly to foreign countries to beat people up. I think we need a reliable international service to do this for us – people on the ground in other parts of the world who are prepared to go and pummel our enemies for us. Perhaps it could be paid for by PayPoke.
  9. Social media is no substitute for actual social contact with actual people. Mind you, it means you do not have to shave every day…
  10. No social media platform is predicated upon observation of etiquette. It is the electronic version of Friday night down at the pub, and in some cases it’s the cheap pub. Do not expect kindness or polite behaviour. Indulge in it yourself, by all means, but be aware that only you will know that you are doing it. It is a measure of your character if you find that sufficient.

* The best alternative  for ditching blood pudding on a cracker is to feed it to the host’s dog. It will cement the friendship and make you welcome in the future. If they don’t have a dog, see if they have a potted palm. Failing that, a velour sofa. If all else fails, balance the offending snack on the lightbulb of their bedside lamp and leave at the end of the evening knowing that your revenge is yet to come. You won’t be invited back but would you wish to visit people who serve blood pudding on Ritz crackers anyway?