Thought for the Day – via Lance Wiggs

This from Lance Wiggs. Who, if you are on Twitter, you should follow. Even when he’s wrong, he’s interesting.

“You are entirely at the mercy of poorly coded algorithms and the arbitrary judgement of some 20 year old Frappuccino swilling douchebeard”

— Lance Wiggs (@lancewiggs) September 12, 2016

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‘Be like Bill’ – What are we, eight year olds?

The latest Internet meme, if you haven’t seen it yet, is the awful,Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 7.38.06 AM infantilising, “be like Bill” thing.

It features, funnily enough, character called Bill. He is a stick figure depicted doing something  praiseworthy: cleaning his fingernails, washing his hands, putting the cushions away after Morning Talk – that sort of thing.

Yes folks: social media has come to this. People are now using it to treat each other like eight-year-olds.

At some point in the last year social media has become a kind of free range Singaporean government, if such a beast can be imagined.

Not only are you pulled up for using the wrong metaphor,  (columnist David Slack attracted much tut-tutting for using the Salem witch trials as a simile in a column on the weekend) but there are now these annoying little poster-ettes  which urge correct behaviour upon us all.

And we’re doing it to each other. It is not some centralised bureaucracy in a government, not some overbearing religious leader or assembly doing this.

The finger wagging, the bossy boots: it is all now being crowd sourced.

The  only sensible, rational, spirited response to any of this hideous, overbearing bossiness is a hearty raspberry – and failing that, a full throated PISS OFF. 

I love social media and its capacity to share views, facts, ideas, humour and philosophy.

It should be – as previous revolutions in communication have been – channels to widen and deepen the spread of ideas.

But this is turning into a narrow avenue of mean spiritedness, spite and self righteousness.

 

 

Tweet Surrender

I’ve tended to steer clear of full blown arguments on the Twitter.

Initially skeptical about the whole medium- the name is silly, and 140 characters? what can you possibly say in that? – there’s an addictive aspect to it which I’ve never quite been able to put my finger on.

I treat it like a mix of – for professional reasons – a kind of informal wire service, notifying me of what is going on, especially economically and politically, as well as being a casual passing conversation.

It is, now I write it down like that, an odd mix.

NZ comedian Michelle A’Court recently described it as like being at a party: you can dip into or out of conversations as you like, move on when you find them boring or offensive or you spot something more interesting.

Oh, and there’s often someone starting a fight somewhere.

I’ve tended to steer clear of those. Firstly, my own rule for online arguments (which I know I haven’t always stuck to) is take whatever you would say to someone face to face, and try to tone it down by around 15% or so.

Face to face, a smile, a lift of the eyebrow, or just the tone of voice, can soften words which, on the screen, look stark and harsh.

Also, some people are just arseholes behind a keyboard.

The other reason is sheer time management. A ruthless application of the LTS Rule is necessary when dealing with social media.

There is this addictive, compelling quality to online arguments. It isn’t just Twitter – it happens on Facebook, it used to happen on usenet. The bullshit is still bullshit, it just goes by different names.

Not all participants get sucked into it, but those who do tend to make Robert Maxwell look like a piker when it comes to going overboard.

To adapt a Douglas Adams concept, Twitter becomes a kind of Total Lack Of Perspective Vortex and otherwise intelligent and charming people completely lose it.

There’s been a recent meltdown on the NZ Twitterzone: if you don’t know about it, don’t worry – the details are very boring and in any case there will probably be another one along shortly.

The dignified, as Paul Weller once warbled, don’t even enter into the game.

If you want to know, though, feel free to search “twitterarti”.

Go ahead. Block yourself out.

This particular meltdown was a bit more meta: it was triggered by a story by a journalist who wrote a piece a month or so back about the ‘Twitterarti’ – a piece which caused some deep resentments amongst folk who spend a lot of time on the medium. Somehow  – I have no idea how, I haven’t analysed it closely and I have no intention of doing so – it mutated into a row over gender politics and it all went horribly wrong.

The only observation I’d make is that if you’re taking any criticism of Twitter interactions as a personal attack, then perhaps you’re wrapping up way too much of your identity and self-worth in the medium.

As for arguments online generally: they work fine on less emotional topics. I’ve had some great, and often quite fiery, discussions over monetary policy and the like in various forums*.

Get into something with more emotional hot-buttons  – and anything relating to gender issues is guaranteed to have plenty of those – and it is Meltdown Ahoy. Any discussion is just not going to end well.

It is bad enough discussing such issues in real life. On the line?  Hoo Boy.

It does get like the piece quoted above about arguments online: the T-Rex-With-An-Erection mix of surreal fury.

There’s another aspect of online discussions which makes these things worse.

To return to Michelle A’Court’s analogy of a party, someone having a casual discussion at a social gathering can make a verbal statement, be challenged: the matter can be discussed and people are perhaps more inclined to modify their initial position.

Online, any initial position is written down. there’s something less movable about a written statement than a verbal one.

This is particularly so because there is always someone going “but you said […..fill in slightly loose or flippant or ill-thought comment here].”

Avoid, mostly. As written here a week or so back about the Rugby World Cup over-kill: perspective is all.

Anyway, here’s the Jam, for those who have picked up on the allusions to their final single during this post.

  • No, you get a life.

Rugby World Cup: NZL 62, FRA 13 

So , things went reasonably well in the quarter final against France after all. 

But we would not be New Zild if we were not already fretting about the semi final* against the ‘Boks next weekend. 

 
I once met an English bloke who had played for the Poms’ schoolboy rugby team against their NZ counterparts. The English schoolboys were coached by a former Lion and Welsh rugby forward.

Giving the lads the benefit of his experience, he instructed them New Zealand teams are not motivated by a desire to win.

They are driven, overwelmingly, by a fear of losing. 

This conversation took place in early 1999. Reviewing the ABs results of the previous season , I suggested it was a fear which seemed to have been been, regrettably, overcome. 

Joking aside: the focus now will be on the Ancient Enemy: the Springboks. Who, of course, appear to have got over any fear they mght have of losing by spectacularly coming a gutser against Japan. 

Rugby World Cups are meant to operate like this. The idea is they will raise the standard of less-well-performing rugby nations – espeically, it has to be said, those with the money to hire expertise from the more well performing rugby nations. 

We can see that, too, in the  strong likelihood Argentina will be in the other semi-final. 

Anyway, this morning’s result is not too foul. I rekkin we can feel a bit chuffed about it, without, of course, going berserk or anything.   
*There are people on the Twitter joking about the way we call semi finals ‘semis’ as though it is some rude thing. It probably is, but I’m not going to look it up.