Dancing The Facebook Hornpipe

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?

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Creative Heckling In The Digital Age

Once upon a time a heckler had only two weapons – their voice and a basket full of over-ripe tomatoes. Both might come arching out of the darkness to disrupt a speech, play, poetry reading, or political speech, and it was as well to have a washable costume as a resilient mind. Both of these forms of heckling were possible only if the person being bothered had no way of retaliation.

But time and again, the heckler may have found out they bit off more than they could chew. Ragging a first-time open mike comic at a pub might send them off in tears, but trying the same thing on a first-line comic in a closed venue – particularly if it was in a crowd of fans – could prove costly. In some cases the comic was well enough in with the staff – or owned the club themselves – and could have a portable spot turned on the loudmouth. And then let fly with whatever would best shut them up.

Heckling at a political rally might even do more good than harm for the candidate. Several presidential candidates and many parliamentary ones have benefitted from being quicker-witted than their detractors and with the benefit of national press coverage have spurted ahead in popularity on the basis of a put-down.

Note: Heckling in a courtroom is technically known as contempt of court and is generally rewarded with time in the Coldwater Hotel. Shout if you must, but you will get thrown into the street or a cell…

Well, that’s the old days – now we have the internet, the social media site, and the fake news phenomenon to play with. Heckling can be referred to as trolling, pranking, and any number of other fashionable words – and can be indulged in from the comfort of Mom’s basement. No need to go out in the cold and be unpleasant when you can do so from home. You can also do so from someone else’s home or home-site if you are clever enough. It almost seems that the possibilities are endless. Who can stop you?

a. The police: You leave a finger, foot, or other part of the body print every time you hit a keyboard. If you are illegally obnoxious, they are sometimes forced to become legally so.

b. The FBI/KGB/ ASIO/ Mossad/Deuxieme Bureau/MI5,6,7,and 8: They have minds even more devious than the local cops and a bigger budget. Piss on them and they have the resources to wring you out like a dishcloth.

c. The faceless Facebook: If you cost them money, they will stop you from costing them money. They can do it by pressing a switch.

d. Mrs. Mulcahey: Donny’s mother. If you give Donny a bad time she also has a switch. It is about a half-inch thick and made of hickory and she’ll apply it to your ass until she gets tired of hitting you…and Mrs. Mulcahey is a woman of stamina…

When You Have To Be Honest…

When you have to be honest about some particular thing, you might just as well surrender yourself to the whole vile experience and be honest about everything. You’ll be cleaning up a damned mess, of course, but the thing won’t be any different than if you just told a little bit of the truth and clammed up about the other things you know.

Not that honesty is required all the time, mind. If you are dealing with magistrates and police officers and coroners and such you’ll have to be completely truthful, of course. Likewise you are going to want to be open and forthright with your physician, dentist, optometrist, etc – otherwise your own body will betray you. But there are other places in society where you can get a rest from being honest:

a. Facebook. No-one really expects to see a 100% honest day on Facebook. There are so many political, religious, and social memes out there just waiting for shares, and most of them are either too good to be true or too true to be good – the former ones outnumber the latter…

b. Instagram. You are encouraged to make things look better than they really are to attract the interest of people who want to attract your interest with their visual lies. Fortunately it makes a nice change from Pokemon and people are less likely to step into traffic while looking at Instagram. Unless it makes them really depressed.

c. The pub. Well, if you can’t tell lies in a place that serves diluted alcohol, what’s the point of going there?

d. Political rallies. Whichever side you are on and whomever you are against, you are never expected to be unbiased and fair at a political rally. You are there to root for your side and howl the rest down. You are often allowed to hold up offensive signs. You are never required to dress well. You are permitted to espouse the foulest creeds and howl the vilest insults. If it had nap time, it would be like kindergarten.

e. Religious meetings. You are required to be honest to God and honest to yourself, but everyone else there can be played like a harmonica. Profess anything that they want you to profess and damn anything that they demand you to damn. Recite creeds, prayers, anthems, and shopping lists if that is the custom of the place. Bob, weave, dance, sing, and perform any gestures that seem to be required.

It’ll all be the same thing. Would I lie to you?

 

 

 

 

I’m Offended

I’m offended:

a. That you have posted a picture of the American president. It doesn’t matter whether you love him or hate him…it just gives me an opportunity to be offended, and I’m going to take it. Had you not posted one, I would be equally offended.

I’m a double-acting scream engine…

b. That you are a different race/religion/sex than I am. And that you know it. And are not apologetic for the fact. Not that I would be prepared to accept an apology from the likes of you…

c. Because of history. Not yours or mine, as such…just history. Oooh that history!

d. That you think I am a fool. And that being a fool is somehow wrong…or foolish. I have a constitutional right to be a fool and you are required to validate my folly. I’ll sue you if you don’t validate me. And then I’ll sue your lawyer – and mine for good measure.

e. Aww, C’mon. At least validate my parking ticket. I’ve been here for an hour.

f. That you do not respect the flag. Or the badge. Or the coupon, post-it note, or phone number that my uncle wrote down on the wall.

g. Continuously. 24 hours a day all through the year. It’s a calling and a profession and I am proud to be angry at you all the time. For God’s sake don’t do anything nice or I’ll look bad…

h. That you have taken offence…at anything. Least of all, at me. Leave that alone. That’s my schtick. Get your own. You’re culturally appropriating me with your eyes. My culture is up here…

i. Because of what you said. Even if you did not say it, I read it on a Facebook meme. You could have said it. Shame on you.

j. Because all my friends are offended and it would be offensive not to join with them.

k. By statues. I’ve already got rid of Robert E. Lee and Nathan Bedford Forrest and I’ve got my sights on the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens. Friedrich the Great in Potsdam and the Sphinx had better watch out, too.

l. Because there’s a lot of good free stuff you can get if you make enough of a fuss.

m. Because there’s a lot of bad stuff you can avoid being found responsible for if you make enough of a fuss.

Note: This column was not meant to cause offence. Or, for that matter, defence. Perhaps if you are offended and defensive right now you may be reading the wrong writer.

 

 

Fools At My Fingertips

I used to have to go out to get my folly. The pub, the club, the workplace. It involved putting on clean clothes and making sure I had a handkerchief. This routine meant I was presentable, but the daily run of life involved a lot of travelling – it was hard on the car.

Now that I’m retired I need not spend petrol or patience in the rush hours and I can keep the same gooey handkerchief until it cannot be refolded…but the disadvantage is that I do not see people. So I miss out on my share of the follies of mankind.

Thank goodness for the internet fake news, and Facebook. ( Oops, I may have stuttered there, listing Facebook and fake news as separate items. In all conscience, I do believe them to be the same thing. ) By subscribing to the Zukerberg Broadcasting Corporation’s view of the world I can have a screen full of nonsense any time of the day or night. Much of it implicates my friends, and all of it is food for very little thought. It is the sort of entertainment that suggests the need for an S-bend in the internet router.

Oddly enough, the other sites I visit on the internet are not like this – I patronise cartoonists, photography sites, car forums, and YouTube videos that have to do with scale model building. Some of this material is crudely done, but none of it is untrue. Very little of it is bigoted or puerile. And I am not required to befriend anyone to benefit from it – or risk their wrath if I turn away.

I have made a little list for myself of people on my Facebook friends list for whom I would mourn if they were run down by a Swiss Post bus in the mountains. It is not all the people on my friends page by any means and every so often another name is pencilled out. I am not de-friending any more, but I have paid $ 869 to install an ALTP* filter in the incoming line. It seems value for money.

*  Avoid Like The Plague

 

 

I Think Of You As A Good Person

But I’ve been wrong about these things before…

I try. I really do try. Every day I attempt to have a good opinion of the people I meet. Some days are successful days and some days are just…well…days. But the good news is I am prepared to reset the mechanism at midnight and re-consider your character in the morning.

This means that in many cases you will have a chance to do better – to appear kinder and more intelligent and more honest than on previous occasions. And each time you do, it will raise you in my estimation. You may reach a plateau – like a level in a video game – that means each thing you do is going to earn you extra psychic points. This is wonderful, and eventually you may get to the point where you turn into a princess or a prince and the golden moneybags start to appear on the screen.

Conversely, every time you foist something on me via Facebook that has been supplied by the latest fake news source, you drop down a notch. Please be aware: there are only so many notches before we reach rock bottom.

In case this sounds really arrogant…well it is. It’s part of the mechanism that I employ to navigate through the world. So far I have hit remarkably few rocks and shoals and I’m willing to attribute this to the personal cynicism about which you are reading. As long as I keep it inside, it is not going to do you any more harm than you deserve. If you behave as a lady or a gentleman should, you will be treated as such.

And we will have a successful day.

Note: Unfortunately this sort of philosophy requires me to be a good person as well. It is annoying, but there you are. You can’t make omelettes without breaking expensive kitchen utensils.

 

Throwing Up On Facebook

I have friends who throw up on Facebook. It is possible that they also throw up on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram – users of social media often have multiple receptacles available to them. This is a great convenience – they might not be at home or near a work computer when something overcomes them.

Of course, no one has ever solved the age-old mystery of where the tomatoes and sweet corn come from ( I didn’t eat either of those – I only had 14 pints of ale…) but that is rarely a problem on social media. The really peculiar thing is where people get the stuff they do ” share “…

Oh, wait. I may have given you the wrong impression. I wasn’t talking about emesis. I was talking about the racist, nationalist, sexist, and political material that is posted daily. The half thought half-thought-through that nevertheless  appears repeatedly. Talk about things coming up again…

I’d normally just step round the stuff if it was on the footpath in front of the kebab shop. As it is I can make it go away with two clicks of the computer mouse…and I am starting to realise that I can do that a lot these days. Suggested posts that are thinly veilled information fishing exercises are one thing that go out immediately. I know nothing and tell less.

Then the Trump posts. None of the people I know  who throw up anti-Trump memes have any connection to the United States, to the Presidency, or to Mr. Trump. Their shared memes and snarky comments are irrelevant. Gone.

Then the vagaries. I am bad at guessing games and worse when the games are psychological. I cannot imagine what some of the posters are on about – the only clear message that comes through is that there is no clear message. I can get that by turning the radio dial a quarter inch to the left off-station.

I do pause at cats and dogs. They can stay, as can hot rod cars and panda bears. I do also study semi-official posts that ask me to look out for a missing person – though I do wish that when a person is found that someone will also notify us of that.

And I am a sucker for domino races or improbable collections of mechanical operations that eventually turn on a popcorn maker. The engineering students with nothing to do for three days are always good for a laugh.