Racialism

Please read carefully. You don’t want to stumble over the rest of this post. I wrote it carefully because I didn’t want to stumble either…

We often hear people being accused of racism. Or things being referred to as racist. Both are deemed wrong and unacceptable. A great deal of writing and speaking, as well as legislating and litigating, is done to eradicate this. Time will tell whether it will be successful, though I have my doubts when this might be achieved entirely.

But how about eradicating – or at least reducing  – racialism. That’s what I call the all-pervasive concentration upon race and upon ethnic matters so that it becomes the pivotal point of all thought and behaviour. Not just seeing black and white things as black and white, but deliberately turning down the saturation on the rest of the world so that there is nothing to see but black and white.

Don’t believe it can come to that? I have heard people make a racial fuss about sandwiches, numbers, and hair styles. I have heard people make a racial matter out of the choice of a colour scheme for a new car. God knows what they would do if someone asked them to buy a non-racist, non-sectarian, gender-neutral water pump.

I can even do it. I can look at certain teeth in certain jaws and even if I cannot see the rest of the person, I can tell you whether it’s likely they come from Beijing, Leeds, or Dresden. ( Though I was fooled by Cyril von Shanghai once…)

The main effect of racialism upon me is boredom, and a feeling of dread. It is an indication that the conversation will be directed to take a decided turn for the worse at every possible opportunity. That every pathway will be a political one and none of them will be worth treading. It will as if the old bolsheviks and their fellow travellers had risen and gained traction again. The brave black – and white – banners will be flying and it will only be a matter of time before they break out the bayonets and the marching songs.

Bah!

( Not baa, or baa baa, because that would suggest black sheep and we would get nasty notes from the NAACP, the Farmer’s Federation, and VMF 214… I could stand the first two but the thought of Boyington’s ghost terrifies me)

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Either Tell Me The Entire Story Or Keep Silent

This is an essay that will echo instantly with those of you who follow each other on Facebook or other social media sites. Personal, face-to-face, over the dinner table  communicators may also recognise the sentiments expressed.

When someone relates a story, they do so for one of three reasons:

  1. They wish to clearly describe a situation and to obtain a rational response from the listeners.
  2. They wish to instil a sense of sympathy amongst the audience.
  3. They are trying to con someone out of money.

All three of these are valid exercises and we applaud them. What we do not approve of is the vague half-announcement that tells only one DRAMATIC – OMIGOD – OMIGOD part of the story and then leaves the hearers to guess at or plead for the rest. This is known in the advertising and prostitution businesses as the come-on, and it is generally up to no good.

We’ve laughed at the term ” vaguebooking ” for this sort of thing on social media. It can also be done over a dinner table or an office desk. In all cases it is an unfair and unhelpful. But what is one to do about it?

Well, take a leaf from Mr. Literal – the Viz Comic character who takes every single statement at face value…even if it is spoken from the other end of the body.  When someone tells you half the story, accept it and act accordingly.

If they tell you that they are leaving for Peru…because…send them a hasta la vista card. And then wait until you get a postcard in return from Lima. Likely the next message will come from Lismore…

When they post that they just can’t…you quietly accept that they just can’t and move on to talk to someone who just can.

If they cry poor or sad or sick or jailed, do something to help. But let them say it clearly or not say it at all. Social interaction should not be a 19th century guessing game of emotion and sensibilities that’s broadcast to every hacker and hoon on the internet.

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.

Cleaning The Meme Off Your Shoe

Prior to subscribing to Facebook, I had never heard the word “meme”. After I leave it, I’m rather hoping that I never hear it again.

I am not resistant to ideas – nor to clever expressions. I look to the history of literature for wit and witticisms. However, I am afraid when I am dealing with this giant of the social media world, that I am getting only a portion of what I might. Half-witticisms, if you will, from the keyboards of half-wits. Vast concepts trimmed to the tastes of the half-vast.

Most items are reasonably harmless in themselves – cats, dogs, and otters and the occasional horse doing funny things. I like the Liz Climo cartoons -as well as a number of other small, harmless drawings. I can stand sunrises and pictures of the sea. I always like airplane pictures.

But some memes are not witty, nor are they pleasant, useful, or fair. If they are attached to politics or religion they are frequently picked up by the least thoughtful of the community and plastered about with abandon. Would that they could be abandoned long before they actually hit the screen.

In today’s political climate, I also wonder if the clever meme has been invented and inserted onto the platform by the disinformation teams from each party – thence to be repeated by the parrots of the net. I don’t value being preached to or railed at by friends on the behalf of strangers.

The answer? Well, that may be mild, or drastic. I’ll experiment with July’s crop of scolding and see which option seems most appealing. I would regret losing the connectivity of some parts of the social media scene, but I would regret losing my happiness and temper even more.

Have You Seen The News?…And My Opinion Of The News…?

We get news all day, every day. There’s not a single minute in which another report of another event is not being slotted into our stream of consciousness. The older ways of doing this are becoming passé for many parts of the planet, but there will still be newspapers, broadsheets, and people crying the latest in the village square for the forseeable future. It may be an electric cry, but it’ll be there.

What a burden. Think back to an earlier time – for instance here in Australia during the first years of European settlement. Local news was what you found out personally or were told by a neighbour. A traveller from another port could bring a printed broadsheet or government gazette. Itinerant pack sellers and carters could pass messages – accurate or not – as they went through. But there must have been blessedly long intervals in which nothing more was thrust upon our minds, and they could get on with the business at hand without new anxieties.

I wish that were the case today. I am not pleading for complete ignorance, but I’d appreciate a bit of time to absorb one disaster before I need to wring my hands over the next one. I get sore hands.

I also get a sore head when I see how people on social media take each event, and the reaction to that event by others, as an opportunity to push their own barrow. Whether that barrow contains a political package, a religious suggestion, or a portable virtue flag on a stick, it is still a vehicle that has little to do with the actual occurrence. Fortunately the load is generally of such little value and such light construction that it can be abandoned by the side of the road when the next attractive disaster is reported.

When Someone Starts It Up

The” it ” can be anything – sex talk, politics, religion, a lawn edger…anything. You’ll know it’s ” it ” because everyone will edge away from the speaker and start to examine the paintwork on the cornices. Some will remember appointments and some will answer their mobile phones …” There’s an emergency at work and they need me…”. The fact that they have been retired for years might give you a clue. A clue that the topic is unpleasant, unwelcome, and unnecessary.

The wise person seeing this reaction will pull up and ask themselves whether they have been riding their hobby horse too fast – indulging their rhetoric a little freely – making a right prat of themselves. The unwise person will make use of the deadly silence that has descended on the crowd to get off more Trump jokes or try to convert the infidel.

The unfortunate part of this all is that the social media we all love has pointed us in the diametrically opposite direction from that of previous generations – we are now positively encouraged to be offensive, overbearing, and lewd. And the sad thing is we are being trained to do this to protest against people who are offensive, overbearing, and lewd. We tar ourselves with our own toothbrush.

Let us all resolve and publicly declare that we will be polite, careful, and discrete in the next twelve months. We will set off none of the media trigger wires that they so generously rig across our computer screens. We will cut everyone some slack, even to the point of cutting it so slack that they fall off the edge of the social media platform and are lost forever. We will allow dissent from our obviously perfect understanding of the universe – on the principle that they’ll find out how wrong they are when it’s too late and we’ll laugh at them as they are hauled away in a tumbril to a well-deserved execution.

Where did I put my knitting?

5 Seconds of Fa

Aw, shit. I typed too slow. The social media stopwatch ran out and the screen shot off onto pictures of kittens. I never got my five seconds of fame. Now I’ll never be a Kardashian.

I suppose it’s all for the best. I looked at my bottom in the mirror and it has none of the appeal that makes it to tabloid covers. I put it away.

And I haven’t got a message for humanity – or at least the one I have is only likely to be of service locally; ” Get off my lawn! “. Actually, given the state of my lawn, most sensible kids detour around it.

I would probably be able to claw a better toehold on the social media ladder if I included more cats or children injuring themselves on light poles in my postings. But our cat is such an obnoxious animal that it refuses to be cute, even for tuna. And we live in a suburb with underground power. Unless I get my own light pole along with the video camera I am out of luck.

Could I host a summit meeting between horrible world politicians and get the locals to riot outside the house for the camera? Possibly…I’ll send off letters to the various embassies in South America and Africa to see if they can dig me up some dictators willing to fly to Perth for a chance to shout at each other. No fear of them trying the old political asylum trick as there is space opening up at Manus Island for new residents. Plus the New Guinea CWA has just published a new book of traditional recipes…