Day 172 – Spring clean

I have noticed that it’s time to have a Spring clean. Not in the house (although…), but online.

I’m pretty sure that I’ve blogged about this before (yes, here we are), but those little annoyances on Facebook and Twitter which you can ignore on a day to day basis can subconsciously mount up and you get to a point where actually, it’s just better to unfollow, mute, unfriend, block or otherwise rid your platforms of those individuals who are the repeated culprits.

Preserve your sanity and make each day just a little better.

I’m talking about those people who post on a single subject (it’s usually politics, but anything goes) to the exclusion of everything else. Now, please note that I’m not necessarily throwing anyone out based on their political views. I’m not one of those people who requires the perfect echo chamber to be able to use social media. I like the occasionally thought-provoking posts from those with different viewpoints, even when I don’t agree with them.
Equally, I’m always happy to see people validate my point of view. Of course I am. We all are.

But if you are posting n times daily solely about any one topic: be it Brexit or Cyril or Football or Covid, and nothing else, then I’m afraid* it’s goodbye.

 

I’m talking about those people who enter those “competitions” to “win” a car or a holiday. The ones where “last week’s winner, Becky R, wasn’t eligible to win the Land Rover Discovery because she was underage”. Never mind that the page didn’t even exist last week and you’ve just voluntarily supplied them with all your personal information to sell on. Muppets.

I love the reaction when a certain quizmaster calls them out on it:

Yeah, I know it’s not real, but what if it is?

wut?

If you are wondering why on earth those (mainly) Nigerian phishing schemes:

Hi Dear,
You have a donation of $3,800,000.00 ( 3 million and eight hundred thousand dollars).
My name is Richard Wahl from  united states. I won America lottery worth $533 million and I am donating a portion of it to 10 lucky people and a few Orphanage homes as a memorandum of goodwill to humanity. Kindly get back me via Email for more info.

are still ongoing, it’s because of people like these.

Goodbye.

 

And finally, I’m talking about those people posting cryptic statuses simply to elicit attention. The ones like:

Oh no. I can’t believe it’s happened again!

or

 Just got the greatest news!

These are just passive-aggressive cries of “Notice Me! Me! Me!”.

If it was so bad, why not tell us about it up front – or not at all? If it was so good, why not tell us about it up front – or not at all?

Yep. I know that I’m the one following you** suggesting that I am at least mildly interested in your life, but either tell me or don’t. I’m really not going to put in the time and effort to dig deeper only to find that your toaster is on the blink for the second time this year or that your local Pick n Pay have stock of your favourite sort of rooibos tea. (Please note that (however puerile it might seem), I would have no issue with you simply telling me that your toaster was broken or your tea was in stock – it’s the “mysterious” way you choose to do it that’s the problem here.)

No. Spare me.

 

And so, if you should fall into any of the above categories, you’re likely to find yourself expunged from my social media life in the very near future. I wouldn’t put up with it in real life, so why should I accept it online?

I’d like to say that it’s nothing personal, although of course, it very clearly is.

Cheerio!

 

* this is merely a figure of speech: I’m not actually afraid at all
** although not for much longer

12 minutes

Seriously, who starts writing a blog post 12 minutes before loadshedding is about to start, taking with it computer equipment, connectivity and safety?

Hello. It’s me.

I wouldn’t want to work for Eskom’s social media department. It’s a thankless task, constantly relaying bad news to a bloodthirsty audience of rabid, baying hounds, simply waiting to pounce on your every word.

Or to the keyboard warriors of middle-class South Africa, at least.

Same same.

But you can help yourself out if you’re in that situation. Like by not linking to an article in the Randburg Sun entitled:

Tips to help prevent burglaries during load-shedding

Firstly, this makes people feel (even more) unsafe within their own homes, and secondly, given that Eskom is responsible for the loadshedding, does that not imply some sort of responsibility for the increased crime during loadshedding?
I”m no legal expert, but I think it probably does.

The prosecution rests, your honour. Whenever it gets the chance.

But did they even read the article in question? In fact, did the person who wrote the article in question even read the article in question?

I’m just asking, given that some of the tips include:

Make provision for good outside lighting but switch the lights off during the day

Good outside lighting being imperative when there’s no electricity, of course.

And:

If your house alarm goes off or you hear strange noises or your dogs bark, switch on the outside lights, but do not go outside.

Of course, there being loadshedding, those good outside lights will be of limited no use, but you can flick the switch and hear the click of nothing happening if it makes you feel any better.

Also, because we have a beagle, our dog barking is quite a strange noise, anyway.
Two birds right there.

Ah yes. The lights have just gone out and they won’t be back on for another 2½ hours. It’s the third of these blackouts today and there will be at least another three tomorrow. I’m going to have to post this via my cellphone using the tower in the adjoining neighbourhood – our local one is down, as it always during these times. So now, I need to go and stand in my front garden to get signal.

It’s looking rather dark out there. I’d better go and switch on the outside lights.

 

Oh.

On online conflict (or not)

If there’s one thing that social media has done, it’s allowed a voice to the voiceless. And while that might seem like a good thing (and in some cases is a good thing), in the vast majority of situations, it’s actually a complete pain in the arse.

Take the anti-vaxxers, for example. I mentioned this last week: their online presence is every bit as big and organised as real medical professionals. And for a lot of people (who choose not to actually think), that means that their views are equally valid. You and I, each blessed with a functioning brain, can quite clearly see the difference between the two parties, and make up our own minds based on logic and information. Others, however, will take whatever they read first as gospel, no matter who happens to have said it, and that’s a real issue.

The other benefit/problem of this new found freedom of discourse is that you find yourself forced to continually interact with people that you usually wouldn’t choose to “in real life”, simply because you find yourselves on the same Whatsapp group because they bought a house 300m from yours or some such.

This could be incredibly enriching experience – an opportunity to see things through others’ eyes. However, in the vast majority of situations, it’s actually a complete pain in the arse.

And of course that swings both ways – they probably really don’t want anything to do with you either. And yet here we all are, each drawn together outside our comfort zones, wearing forced smiles and spouting false platitudes in order that we don’t get booted off the group in question and thus miss some vital piece of local information. Is it worth it? Of course it is – if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t still be on the group.

I don’t mind admitting that there are certain individuals on some social media groups who – for me (and others) – have gained “a reputation”. And not in a good way. You know what’s likely to be coming from them (because you’ve seen it a million times before), and you know that you’re not going to like it. Equally, I might be (indeed, I probably am) one of them to other people, simply because they don’t like what I say any more than I like what they say. We really wouldn’t last as friends. With good reason.

I don’t suffer fools gladly (because again, “in real life”, I don’t have to), but I really do try not to engage. I’ve got near endless patience and a wonderful ability to zone out and ignore most anything that annoys me. I have had plenty of practice of sitting on my hands and not responding to idiots people on twitter, and I’ve worked out that I don’t have to respond, even when someone shares something so utterly nonsensical that it rattles my spidey-senses.

But jeez. They walk among us. And on the internet, it’s likely that their voices are every bit of loud as ours. Sad and terrifying.

Both ends

It seems to me that I may have been burning the candle at both ends.

I’m tired and there’s wax everywhere.

It’s purely self-inflicted: the 2 hour time difference back to the UK means that at the moment, the football starts late and finishes very late. That means that I get to bed later still and yet the early morning school wake up still needs doing each day.

I could give the football a miss, but then also, I couldn’t. Last night’s games were too exciting to go to bed, and then there’s that difficult FOMO feeling as well. Since I’m not playing football at the moment, I need to get my fix somewhere: and that includes my social fix as well. 20 years ago, I could have watched alone and then written an email or blog post about it, but now, I can watch alone and then we can agree on just how bad the referee is with near immediacy on Whatsapp.

It’s not the same as going down to the pub and having a pint, but it is cheaper, safer and a whole lot less effort. Do we connect in the same way across a network as across a table? Probably not, but then I don’t think that the two are mutually exclusive. So sure, I use social media to communicate, but I still talk to people*.

It’s the FA Cup this weekend, which means less to me than the league, but I’ll probably watch some games anyway (and chat about them with friends). However, that fixture pile-up means that there is league football on three nights this week. I’m not quite sure how I’ll survive with so little sleep, but I’m still going to give it a go.

Just as soon as I’ve cleared up all this wax.

 

 

* when I have to

Like this

After a busy day making trees appear and making boxes disappear, I have fifteen minutes until my new favourite programme of the moment, Taskmaster, is on TV. I know that it’s awfully old-fashioned to be tied to a TV schedule when there are so many new-fangled ways of accessing visual content, but sometimes we need to go back to our roots and those halcyon pre-streaming times; to remind ourselves to stay grounded in this age of on-demand satisfaction.

Talking of on-demand satisfaction in the digital age, here are a couple of absolutely corking observations on that very theme:

[Oh wow. Neat segue.
Thanks.]

This one, via The Guru, brilliantly documenting our need for instant digital gratification via social media, what happens when we fall short of the mark (as we nearly always seem to do), and how there is still (real) life after no likes.

By the light of a phone screen, a little egg created a social media account.
One Sunday, the warm sun came up and — snap! — out of the egg emerged a very thirsty caterpillar, who posted an artfully disheveled selfie #wokeuplikethis.

And then this tweet, which simply explains what happens when things go right for any of your given posts, tweets or ‘grams:

Please press the button. I’m always in need of TGC.

And that’s why I’m off to watch Greg and Alex now.

[Oh wow. Neat segue. Again.
Thanks. Again.]