The trick is to find something to bait other than a bear.
In any intimate social circle of friends there will be people who can be attacked with impunity. We all know a mass murderer or sex offender or someone who wears socks with sandals. They are the legitimate targets of our hate, righteousness, and scorn when we are feeling out of sorts.
We can pillory them to our heart’s content on the internet with no danger of reprisal. But then so can everyone else, and that means that we just blend in with the braying crowd – no-one will know how virtuous and cool we are. Easy targets get no gongs, as they say in the Air Force. They may get more than their fair share of 1000 pounders, but that is no consolation when we want personal publicity. We need worthy enemies that can be vanquished easily while the light is good and the cameras are rolling.
Trouble is, worthy enemies – again to use the Air Force analogy – are armed with flak and fighters, and are not easy targets. If you get a whipping while you are trying to do that to someone else you are not going to benefit. So what we need are targets that appear tough but are made of rubber or straw.
In the social scene these can be found amongst the rich and entitled or poor and defenseless – provided they are far enough above or below our own social standing as to render us invisible. If we can be mean from behind a double-blind of false identity it is even better. This may be the real benefit of identity theft.
Of course things can change in time. The Nigerian scammer of last decade may well become the new government of this one. Likewise the politician we all vie to hate may be proven right. We must make some provision to retract our statements, or at least to retract our signature on the libels. For this purpose we advocate the good old disappearing ink beloved of spy novels.
The safest way of all – at least on WordPress or Blogger – is to include free-form poetry or advice on how to make money from home in each post. What is never read cannot be sheeted home to you in court…
Allow me to pour praise upon the WordPress organisation and the wonderful works of charity they do. They have enabled me to have the time of my life for the last six years for essentially nothing at all.
I write four separate weblog columns. I’m paid in money for one of them ( not a lot, I assure you ) and in pleasure for the other three. I’ve tallied the statistics from them and find that I’ve been able to bend people’s ears, so to speak, 5260 times, and on each occasion I have been given the floor exclusively – no one has interrupted me. I hope I have not abused the privilege.
I am a little saddened to read other weblog columns that seem to have gone nowhere – ventures that looked to be so promising, yet faded within a month. I guess there may have been good reasons, but it is still frustrating to see someone who probably has something good to say go silent. Unfortunately it leaves the Facebook parrots to meme whatever they find on the net and then think that they have made an intellectual statement of it. I have never been so glad of a snooze button in my life, and the unfollow lever is kept greased and in good working order too.
People decry weblogs as minor affairs…but they then praise other artistry that may be just as obscure – merely on the chance that it eventually will become known. Goodness sake, people – read and praise what is fresh before your eyes and recognise the talent that is out there. I’m not saying that the talent is me, but occasionally I get off a good one and it’s worth wading through the rest of the stream to be there when it happens.
The future? I will still write using the free themes until the picture storage capacity is used up – then I’ll pay WordPress for an elegant revision and combine all three columns into one. It will not be a case of cutting down on content, but it will have multiple sections each day. No-one will be deprived.
I receive prompts to ” monetize ” the columns, together with impossibly complex social networking plans and strategies. None of this interests me, as I have nothing to sell but thought. And that is generally going at very low prices anyway. Bring a paper bag and I’ll fill it up for you…
Yesterday I got a message from the WordPress people saying that the current links between the weblog columns I write and Facebook was in peril – FB apparently change their play today for some arcane reason. The explanation was suitably vague, but the end result was another three hours of computer churning to create a ” page ” as well as a ” profile “.
Well, the electrons flowed back and forth and eventually it settled into the new pattern – but with all the old people and pictures. I suspect it is a ploy to make another platform to sell advertising in sidebars and pop “suggested posts ” into my stream of consciousness. As long as I can throw ’em out as fast as they appear, I’m happy. I need all the consciousness I can get here at home.
The all-pervasive nature of FB and the sudden peremptory announcements – caged sometimes in gobbledygook – are starting to make me nervous. I recognise the follies of some of my friends on the service by the memes and propaganda they push – they can recognise mine by the weblog posts that drift over. As long as we do not engage in arguments, all is well.
But must everything be the province of Facebook?
I’ve been taken somewhat to task recently by a reader of another weblog column who complained that I did not write what he wished to read. I suspect that what he wanted to read was what he had written – and that if I had written to his mind I should equally have displeased him…for I should have stolen his story and portrayed it as my own.
And there it is for many authors…if they write their story they risk the wrath. And yet, in the end, their own story is the only one they can honestly tell.
This is no bad thing. Consider – if I tell something I know to you, you are not required to hear it – you can turn away unheeding. But I can’t tell you without telling myself, and in many cases I am the person who needs to hear that story. I need to get something straight in my own mind…to remember or to understand. The rehearsal of the facts helps me where it might just bore you.
The WordPress weblog columns can be therapeutic instruments for many people and I am impressed that they are made available to so many for such a little cost. I think mine have done me a world of good in the last six years and I would readily recommend the writing of one to anyone upon a trial basis. There may be no more Hemingways out there, but there are certainly writers who can toll their own bells.
When people ask you this assure them that there will come a time, when you do, indeed, shut up. No life goes on forever and even if you leave behind video tapes and recordings of yourself scolding your neighbours and relatives, eventually the recordings will wear out and a blessed silence will descend.
Writers have a better chance of pressing their opinions on others long after they are dead. These may be good things, like P.G. Wodehouse novels or rubbish like Samuel Johnson’s writings. The only real end to a writer’s influence comes when they go out of print and out of circulation – Voltaire is still going and Euclid shows little sign of ceasing any time soon as long as there are parallel lines or right angles.
We might grant some eternal influence to politicians and statesmen but these reputations tend to tarnish and rot more readily than those of the writers. Territories and resources are much more desirable than ideas, and new people will always arrive trying to acquire them. In the process they remove the old rulers, then their remains, and finally their history and their names. The unlucky ones are kept round as curiosities in museums or powdered for Chinese medicines. At least the mummies that may be ground up for this sort of thing have the satisfaction of being able to make some modern Asian fool sicker than when they started out.
I am grateful for the internet as it allows me to monopolise people’s attention for five or ten minutes every morning and no talking back. I suppose one day it will disappear in an EMP but until then I have an extremely small portion of the public eye or ear to remember what I said.
And to ignore it.
Okay. Then put me thru to spelchek, plz.
Look, just go get the goober in your office with the dictionary and put them on the phone.
Okay, now listen. I’m an author of four daily weblog columns and I use your service all the time. It’s the one up at the top of the WordPress dashboard with the ABC and the checkmark, right? Well, I want to know why you are objecting to my grammar and spelling and then letting glaring errors creep through unchallenged.
Like hl. I just typed that and pressed the ABC button and it came out approved. At the same time you red-lined WordPress and goober. WordPress is your own name and a goober is a peanut. The word hl isn’t a word at all – it might have been a typo for ” hole ” or ” hale ” or anything.
I accept the fact that my fingers and sticky keyboard will put out rubbish at times. I welcome your caution about most things and assiduously correct what you flag for me. But you let some howlers through nevertheless, and I’m starting to become worried about he stuff you do approve.
Is there a way that I can register my own style with you – my age, history, and likely speech patterns? Then when I end a sentence with ” eh? ” or use the phrase ” my own whatever ” you need not scold me for it. That’s who I am and that’s how I speak.
I promise not to use bad words – not because I am moral, but because I do not know many of them. I cannot promise to use gender-neutral words and phrases because I have observed for a long time that this has more to do with politics and power than it does with effective communication. Plus I like genders – they can be soothing on cold nights.
I have been receiving likes recently from a number of different sources:
a. People who wish to read what I write.
b. People who wish that I would like what they write.
c. People who wish I would send them money to read about how to get money from other people.
d. People who have impossible names but dwell in a place called outlook.com.
I am pleased and flattered to receive communications from the first group. Their praise, even if it is only a click on the computer keyboard, is a kindly act and I thank them for it. Their joy is one of the reasons I write these columns daily.
The second group is also welcome – because many of them write about interesting things and some of them write well. The ones who combine those two features are on my little reading list. I’m afraid I do not do all that well with poetry and certainly don’t pursue political blogs very far, but I do give everyone a read at least once to see if I will enjoy going back.
The third group really flag themselves as soon as you see their summaries on the ‘ like ‘ email. If the answer to getting more money was to ask people to send you more money…well I could do that unbidden. I don’t do so for a number of reasons – some of them practical and some of them moral.
It may help this group to know that I write for the pleasure of exercising memory and developing thought. A well-crafted essay launched is instant reward, whether or not it is subsequently praised by others.
The fourth set of people are not people as such – they are probably a robotic scam program that is manipulating statistics for some purpose. I delete them from the emails and dismiss them from my mind. Presumably the WordPress people will get on top of this flood of nonsense eventually and it will dry up.
I should welcome more people reading my essays. I refuse to do circus tricks to try to produce this result. Though I wouldn’t mind a pair of clown shoes or a some spangled tights…