Promoting The Causes

Last month I watched  people promoting their causes. Well actually, not their causes as such – more a case of causes that they agreed with. Or seem to agree with. Or were paid to agree with.

I am now wondering a lot of things about them. Did they believe what they said? Did they say what they believed? Have they read any of the stuff they clicked over at everyone on the social media site? Or was it all just a sham performance designed to get our attention  – not on the causes – but on them?

Well, we’ll find out in two weeks when I start following the news feed again. A lot may have happened in this month, and that may change the way they think or the things they say. At least it will serve as a test to see if they change either their minds or the topic. In case that sounds a strange combination, remember that the definition of a fanatic is one who will do neither.

Note: I do favour goodness over badness and virtue over vice. But I may see these items in a far different light than you. To save time and trouble let’s just proceed from the premise that I am right and you are wrong, and you can apologise and offer compensation for your errors later. It is not an onerous demand – I can be bought off with baked goods.

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What Do You Do When…

  • When Facebook is not an option: When you have committed yourself to a month of no FB to see what the effect on your life will be.
  • When you do not want the latest toy that your toy retailer has put out on the shelf because your current toy is working just fine.
  • When the motion pictures on offer at your local cinema are too juvenile for words or too politically correct to stomach.
  • When every new trendy drink costs $ 20 and every new trendy food in the restaurant costs $ 50.

Answer? You blink twice, knock the water out of your ears, and come to your senses.

  • Firstly, you do things that do not involve Facebook. Hobbies, for instance. Or reading. Or writing. Or visiting friends. Or going for little trips. The things you did before you first bought one of Mr. Zuckerberg’s nickel bags.

You’ll have time for things that you ran out of time for prior to Facebook eating your day hollow. Or to put it in another way, you can call into a bar for a drink and walk out again or you can live in a bar and venture out for brief periods. Same bar, different life.

  • If you are playing with your toys so hard that the wheels fall off and all the paint is gone, you may need to get new ones at regular intervals. If you are not, the old ones can serve a great deal more time than you’d think. The money you save using the old ones can be put to other uses.
  • A motion picture is someone with millions of dollars in the bank telling you a story for ninety minutes while you sit in the dark and cringe at the price of a chocolate ice cream. The story may be well worth the telling and well worth the seeing  – if the story teller and the tale are good. If they are new, they gain a whole dimension.

If the tale is not new – if it’s a re-hash of something you saw in a comic book in 1957 – or if it’s so puerile as to suggest a Little Golden Book worth $ 4,000,000, you are perfectly justified in giving it a bye rather than a buy. With ninety extra minutes and the price of the ticket and the chocolate ice cream in your pocket you can immerse yourself in the best of new or classic literature and feel a lot more adult for it.

  • At the end of spending from $ 70 to $ 120 at dinner time you are entitled to feel both full and foolish – but in some cases you’ll only get the latter. Some restaurants do, indeed, see you coming. And then they see you off.

You need not spend that much to feed yourself, either at home or on your travels. You need not eat badly, unless you’ve fetched up at a country town that has nothing on offer at all except a blood pit pub. If you’re going to be on the road, take an emergency pack of beer, soup, crackers, sausage, and cheese, and  even if the town has closed for the night you should be able to go to bed fed. If you are in a strange city look for a Chinese, Vietnamese, or Greek restaurant and eat what they cook.

If you are at home, consider the advantages you have – your own pantry, your own icebox, your own cellar. Your own expertise at preparing something that you like. Your own schedule. Do not sacrifice these for those fast-food lights winking down the road.

The Start Of Experiment Two

This last month I experimented upon the friends in my Facebook connection – this month I experiment on me.

July I refrained from turning anything off – I let it all hit me and carefully noted what that was like. I looked at who posted what, and how their writings or shares affected me. I mentally separated the wheat from the chaff and then the chaff from the horse shit. I now have a darned good idea who deals in these undesirables.

I also noted who wrote or shared happier things. I was alert to actual intelligence as it manifested itself, and again now know who is cheerful and smart.

This month -August – I am going to find out what being without this daily feed of social information is really like. And what the time normally spent scrolling through it would yield if I used it for other purposes. The discipline is simple:

I will link over my own WordPress columns as usual, but I will not scroll or read the rest of the feed. I will read the Messenger section each day and use this as per normal…but no kitten videos or political rants or advertisements will take up my day. I won’t de-friend or unfollow anyone in the next month – i’ll just keep my eyes off what they write.

This’ll be a good chance for those people who want to traduce, insult, or cajole me to get in there and give it a good month-long kick. I won’t be reviewing the posts of August when September rolls around – whatever goes through there will be a train of thought that has vanished into the night.

When September comes I’ll reopen my eyes and analyse what a month Facebook-free meant. I’ve no idea whether it will be wonderful or horrible, but here’s to 30 days of experimentation to find out.

Plead The Fifth

Every time a US senate enquiry tried to pin mobsters and communists down about their activities in the 1950’s the parties being grilled recited a prepared statement that they respectfully declined to answer the question on grounds that it might tend to incriminate them*. The amendment is worth reading in total, but the small part they were using applies to testifying against yourself. ie don’t admit nuthin’, Salvatore. Make ’em prove it.

I respectfully suggest that whenever Facebook asks you any question at all – however innocent it may seem – that you take the Fifth. Any information you give about yourself – your history, your family, your likes and dislikes – can, may, and probably will be used, sold, traded, abused, and otherwise bandied about. You will do yourself no good whatsoever by responding to any of the questions, quizzes, games, or provocative statements.

This also applies to posts and shared memes put out by the trolls within your Facebook friends list. And we’ve all got ’em. Those of you who insist that all your friends are innocent may have two or three of mine, free…

*   A wonderful red flag, if red flag be needed, to alert the authorities that more investigation would be fruitful.

A Quarter Of The Way Through The Experiment

Halfway through the first month of a two-month Facebook experiment. I have discovered:

  1. The advertisements are less a source of irritation than direct posts. The adverts are impersonal and surprisingly easy to ignore.
  2.  I even get some pleasure now that I realise that the advertisers had to pay for the space yet their investment is wasted.
  3. There are really only half a dozen people out of over two hundred that post irksome material. And it peaks at one or two.
  4. There are half a dozen that post consistently delightful material.
  5. The posts of objectionable material run in a delayed cycle based upon popular news feeds – the time lag can be anywhere from a n hour to several months, but most appear after about a week.
  6.  None of the irritating or offensive posts actually cause one to go hungry, thirsty, cold, or sleepless. They do not affect the health. They have no practical effect on anything… but they do flag the poster as foolish or nasty.

At the start of August I shall draw a little list of those people who cause happiness and those who cause pain. Then I’ll have a quiet month of no Facebook to think about it all.

When The Bait Falls Off The Hook

Getting a lot of booster advertisements lately from Facebook –  that wants either $ 22 or $ 49* to promote a standard Facebook posting to more people. So far I have not bit, nor will I chase the bait in the future.

I write for me, and share it to others – I hope they like it. If I had to pay them to like it, the thrill would be gone. I already have to do that for so many other facets of life…and the process of giving them money is bound to be all computerish and complicated. It’s not like just leaving money on the mantlepiece in the morning…

So, no. No, I won’t give a multi-billionaire my money to pester other people. I can pester them myself for the cost of a bus ticket and a bag of rocks. And let me tell you, a busted window at 3:00 AM is far more memorable than a Facebook post.

*    Magic numbers. Just small enough and odd enough to make you think that they are genuine…

 

The Quiet Season Starts

Monday was the first day of my pledge not to react to Facebook taunts. I publicly promised to read the thing as usual for a month but not edit what I see.

It was, perhaps, a rash decision – coming as it did just on the month that contains Dominion Day, Independence Day, and Bastille Day. All occasions that may draw forth the bray of the Great Australian Ass on social media. I am now bound to hear it but ignore it…

Fortunately I can still write my own thoughts in my own columns, and hope that someone in the great somewhere reads every word. But even here I am bound by the laws of gentlemanly behaviour not to attack people with scurrilous rumour and unsubstantiated slander. I am not allowed to mock the afflicted. It’s most disheartening.

However, good will come of it. At the same time that I am reading, marking, and inwardly writhing at the stupidity and bias of Facebook posters, I am going to be making a daily note of the way the site works. I’ll make a list of the postings that I see based upon:

a. Normal cheerful posts. ie kittens, babies, dance shows, hot rod cars, etc. Things that make me happy.

b. Cries for attention done in a genuine manner or similar cries done by copying and posting some senseless thing plucked of a North American website.

d.Noxious political propaganda – whether it be a shared rant or an original piece of bad humour or bad taste. Things that make me feel bad.

e. Advertisements. These also make me feel bad, but not in a personal sense – they are just an intrusion.

f. Messages. This section is generally of quite some use to me -a secondary link to people that can get a faster response than an email or postal contact.

In addition, I shall log the number of minutes each day spent on Facebook.

At the end of the month I’ll have a good idea whether I’m personally getting more happiness or more sadness from the social network. It is not a judgement on the people involved per se, but rather an analysis of what it has actually become for me.

Then the second part of the experiment in August…