And the goodness may be your own peace of mind.
One day recently I made a bad purchase – for a small price. Neither the seller nor I were aware of a defect in a product that rendered it valueless. There was no chance of recompense from a supplier or maker – they were unknown and far away. The only saving grace about the whole thing was the low price of the article – it was not worth raising a stink about it to anyone.
But it was worth writing a weblog column about – tying in memories of cheap goods from Hong Kong that plagued us in the 1950’s and contrasting that with the generally high standard of production from China these days. Didn’t put the coin back in my pocket, but did keep the thing in perspective – and the release of steam meant that the rest of the boiler remained calm.
The weblog column is much maligned as too petty for real writers to bother with – and too common for real readers to look at. Bit of elitism there, but it doesn’t touch the real benefit that writing one may give; the opportunity to vent a grievance or order your mind when no-one else will listen. If I were a single person without family or friends – which I thank the Lord is not the case – I would regard the humble blog as a lifeline to sanity.
As it is, I have looked at sanity and decided that I didn’t need it all that much.
If you would like to read about ” boosters “, I can suggest no finer book than ” Babbit ” by Sinclair Lewis. It may seem a little dated to some, but then anti-American propaganda never really gets old if you find the right readership. You may be just the fellow traveller who would appreciate it. Paperback versions are readily available, and Dear Old Sinc does get some good lines in there.
I am reminded of it when I get responses via email to these columns. A fair few of them seem to suggest that I can make a fortune by following their formulae for search engine success and/or marketing. I suspect that few of them really have read what I wrote – that this column is not selling anything – nor buying it either.
It almost seems as though they have turned the old saying back to front and are urging me to stick my business in everyone else’s nose…
Fine, if I was trying to market a feel-good book on how to feel good or a successful program on how to be successful…but I am actually operating a personal pillbox from which I can mow down my enemies. When I run out of enemies I mow down friends. Hey, the machine gun bullets are not fussy…
If you have had the misfortune to be attacked and destroyed by this weblog column consider yourself lucky – when you lie down and bleed you will not attract further fire. It is only the heroic that get another fusillade.
Far worse off is the person who I praise. When you put people on a pedestal they are visible to more batteries and will attract heavier ordnance. The spotlight of fame is a merciless one.
And not just any traffic – congested rush-hour jam traffic with drivers honking and swearing and the occasional sound of bumpers crumpling. Nothin’ says lovin’ like a road-rage fist fight on the footpath. Sound good? Lookin’ forward to it?
Or how about a steady even stream of cars – occasionally stopping to wave to you as you water the new front lawn. No noise. No smells. No crashes. A little less exciting, but ultimately easier on the nerves.
Well, these two choices are what you get when you start to do a weblog column and the thing is picked up by blogging promoters – the people who want to sell you either themselves or some formula that allows search engines to find you when you go to the bathroom. Kind of like electronic cocker spaniels – presumably they sit at the door, whining and scratching.
My email inbox is full of these at present – people who ” like” some particular post but only as an opportunity to wedge their feet in the door and sell encyclopaedias. I pay the courtesy to each of these email contact of looking at their weblogs – at least once – but I select only a few to follow upon a further basis. These are written by people who are amusing, sensible, or who share my hobbies.
Getting more readers is exhilarating but at my age I can get sparkling lights in front of my eyes standing up quickly. I value praise from people I value…but not from glad-handers and boosters.
I can get that from the Indian call centres…
We should all be prepared to realise that the things we write on the internet:
a. Will never go away, unless they are useful and vital to our well-being. Then they’ll vanish without trace.
b. Are overseen by any number of state and private agencies and snoopy individuals.
c. Are carefully noted when they contain trigger words that deal with state security or criminal activities. Even if we innocently write the words ” bomb plot ” or ” My Kitchen Rules ” they will trigger an automatic recording by someone in Langley, Virginia, Beijing, and Moscow. Also probably in Pyongyang and possibly in Canberra. They will certainly be noted in Bombay and used to provide the telephone scammers with a target.
This is a problem for those of us who routinely write about shelling the local council offices with a howitzer because we can never tell whether the federal government snoopers will think it a bad idea…or a good one. I guess we’ll find out if someone leaves a free basket of 250mm shells at the front door tied up with a pink ribbon and bearing a ” Thank You ” card.
My chief fear is that the things that I write will lead to my friends being arrested, tried in secret, and jailed for long periods. And that I won’t be there to see the fun.
Still, there is always hope – you are reading this right now, and your internet address has been sent to a group of hackers in Athens. With any luck you should be getting your ransom demand in a couple of hours. They are not greedy – you can pay in moussaka and retsina.
None of us is a social justice warror because none of us actually do anything to acheive it. No wonder – we have no idea what the phrase means. I’ve looked for a definition that doesn’t press someone’s ambit claim for money or emotional hand wringing, or money, or …well…money.
It ain’t there. A lot of the socially bellicose are either driving or being driven by the desire for someone else’s money. They don’t have it, they want it, and they are going to find any means they can to get it – save work.
It’s difficult for them, no doubt, as the people who have the money want to hold onto it. Oh, they’ll spend it, but they want value for money – mobs surging and schoolchildren chanting is hardly value under any reckoning. Mobs digging ditches or schoolchildren actually learning might do it, but this is not what the social justicians generally offer. But there is hope – WordPress is available to press their point.
What they need to do is find someone who they wish to disturb. The victim need not be bad, mad, sad, or anything else – all they have to do is be still long enough to fix some sort of guilt to them. Then a flood of outrage on WordPress and the other social media platforms to cause them to either give up and send money or to explode in rage so that they can be sued. Lawsuits are expensive – especially the ones tailored by bespoke lawyers – and the average victim can be frightened into giving up before the prospect of court arises.
Remember – whatever anyone says, demand Ju$tice – preferably in small, unmarked bills.
Or Hold The Stainless Banner High…*
I’ve been scolded by Facebook for posting a story in my column that deals with scale model building – a story in 8 or more parts. It’s the history of the Royal Ruritanian Army Air Force and Facebook thinks it is spam. And says that it contravenes Facebook community standards.
I have to admit, it doesn’t contain:
a. Sneering memes about an American President or Australian Prime Minister.
b. Thoughts and prayers.
c. Sneering references to thoughts and prayers.
d. Cat videos.
e. Advertisements that have been paid for by businesses based upon my browser history.
f. Games that seek to find out people’s preferences so that the information can be sold to advertisers.
So, yes, my columns do not conform to Facebook community standards. If they did I should be deeply ashamed.
I wonder if Facebook is ever deeply ashamed…?
* I was listening to the old Civil War song of this name…but I can’t be sure if the lyrics mentioned ” stainless ” or ” brainless “… which would explain a great deal about the current problem.
Does it bother me that so few of the posts on this weblog column go viral – that so few phone calls come through inviting me to the White House or Buckingham Palace? Do I gnaw my vitals and weep into the pillow at being in relative obscurity?
Not a bit. Everything I’ve ever written has been read by someone – even if it was only me. And in reading it, they and I have gained something. Unlike the writer of a newspaper column, my words have not been wadded up and used to clean windows or wipe bums. These thoughts all come out on the computer or mobile phone screen. Try wiping with that, Wilbur.
Sometime these things ring a literary or social bell and I hear it reverberating. Sometimes they fall on deaf ears. Sometimes I deliberately avoid posting copies them onto Facebook because I fear that they will cause offence. Sometimes I post away with just that intent.
In all cases the act of writing the weblog column has kept my mind active and allowed me to order the universe to my satisfaction. It goes awry a moment later, of course, but for a brief period it is correct. I live for those moments.