Facebook

A Place for Everyone (My run-in with the Twitter people)

You know you have reached a certain time in your life when you start reading Playboy for the quality of its authors, rather than for the quality of its silicone. Personally, I still bounce between the two factions. I respect the genius of past contributors (Joseph Heller, Roald Dahl, Jack Kerouac, to name a few), but I can’t help but get distracted by the beautiful female “journalists”, and their use of split infinitives and saucy lingerie.

Anyway, after you’ve finished here, I urge you to go read Gilbert Gottfried’s piece in June’s edition (link below). Within The Apology Epidemic, he assassinates the social media dwellers that seem to be in a perpetual state of being offended or outraged by something. It’s hilarious, wickedly insightful, and required reading for a few people I recently ran into.

Gottfried is no stranger to controversy. Tweeting jokes about the Japanese tsunami, and baiting the outraged masses on social media, he was dismissed from a recurring television advertisement campaign as a direct result.

Honestly, if it’s that easy to destroy the livelihood of comedians you find offensive, why isn’t Michael Macintyre and the cast of Mock the Week claiming jobseekers allowance right now?

However, not a month after the Gottfried piece went out in Playboy, Anthony Cumia, from the Opie and Anthony Show on Sirius XM, was sacked for reasons that were equally amazing and staggeringly familiar.

It would seem that Cumia, whilst taking photos in Times Square late one night, was assaulted by an African-American woman who claimed he had taken her photo without permission. Rather than report the attack, Cumia recounted the experience to his Twitter followers. Big mistake!

Ignoring the vicious and unprovoked act of violence he had endured, the faceless offended picked over his tweets and simply branded the guy a racist.

Looking at the comments made it’s fair to say his words were unforgiving, understandably angry, and clearly written “in the moment”. But it’s a leap to call them racist.

Stupidly taking the bait, and engaging in the hatred (when he should have perhaps ignored the resulting tweets as nothing more than gravy-train outrage from the worst examples of social media bottom-feeders), Cumia was later dismissed from his radio show. All thanks to a few tweets and a lot of outraged people with internet access.

Now is it me, or are these ridiculous social media reactions nothing more than an example of the toxic piling-on culture that seems to be the proclivity of the more “sensitive” user?

Usually hiding behind their anonymity (a luxury not all of us have!), these people add their thoughts (loose term) and shake a disapproving fist at things they have either not fully understood or should not care about – certainly not as much as they profess too, as you will see later.

Perhaps naively, not only did it surprise me that so many people could be so hate-filled by such banality (seriously, you people can’t find anything else to get a tad miffed about? How about wartime rape or state-sanctioned child abuse?), but it also inspired me to experience a little of the heat for myself.

Now, I only became a Twitter person recently, and solely for the purpose of advertising this shambolic website. I use it every now and again, checking in on a few people I know, and a few I would like to know (I’m looking at you, Anna Kendrick!).

During the signing-up process, I remember being offered a few friendly suggestions on who I should be following – one of these was the UK X-Factor winner, James Arthur.

It was James who sprung to mind when choosing my muse. You see, I needed someone I could post a stupid comment too, and guarantee myself a shower of disapproving zealots who will bundle in and take issue with my obnoxious bullshit.

But that wouldn’t be enough, I also had to write something dumb and thoughtless enough that most would simply ignore as the act of an attention-seeking moron, but spiteful enough to lure out the whack-a-doodles and flick their Pavlovian conditioning to chase the bone thrown, en masse.

If my goal was to say something a little stupid and misguided, then I was in good company with dear old James. Here was a guy that had certainly seen his share of outspoken moments and strange controversy – my personal favourite being his alleged dropping from a record label for glamorising terrorism!

Seriously, Bananarama would turn in their grave if they knew what today’s pop stars were up too!

Anyway, with my research into his brand of followers concluded, I was ready. I had sent a few testers in previous weeks to see how deep the waters ran, and to explore what would provoke the right reaction.

But then something happened.

On the day I decided to drop the bomb, I read online that Mr Arthur was considering the removal of his Christian (first) name within the title of his next album, in the hope of shaking off yet more controversy. This time it was certain lyrics that had been deemed homophobic (by whoever monitors the use of homophobic lyrics in songs, I guess!). This was too good to miss.

After preparing my apology (because I knew I would need one), I sent the following recommendation to James… sorry… I sent the following recommendation to Arthur.

  “Rather than drop the James @JamesArthur23 , how about dropping yourself from a multi-story car park? Just a suggestion. Think about it.”

Honestly, I felt pretty shitty when I sent it. You see, I have no interest in James Arthur, or his name dilemma. I don’t know his music, or hold any malice towards him. He seems to be a decent guy who is trying to deal with the shitty side of instant fame as he sees it. Not an easy thing to do, and something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy – regardless of the groupies and money made from lucrative Iceland adverts!

However, I knew James had a particular sort of following that would leap at my tweet. Sure enough, they came running – threats and all.

One follower suggested that,

  “…his [my] son must be proud of him [me].

I can only assume this person was so angry they carried out a search on my name, found my website (thanks for the bump in readership!), noted that I had referred to my 4 year-old son in the past, and then used this information against me, in order to make a very creepy point.

Is this the work of a stable individual? I’ll let you judge.

Another stated that,

  “When somebody tweets that they clearly lack intellect or empathy”.

Now that’s a very fair point to make. However, just as I thought I had found a sensible voice among the chorus of bile and hatred, the same person tweeted,

  “Paul, you are clearly a fucktard”.

As much as I smiled at the moniker, the irony in their words was far more typical of the breed.

Finally, someone tweeted the below picture and rhyme.

1406358975718

I’ll be honest; I’m really not sure what to say on this one. Whilst it has provided some amusement over here at Snarky Towers, I resent being called a “troll”.

For the record, I only go under bridges in order to receive £10 hand-jobs from whatever homeless person is living there.

Relax! I’m making a joke! Please, I don’t want to hear from any offended homeless people who happen to have a smart phone, a Twitter account, and a better hand-job pricing structure than the one I eluded too.

Anyway, after an hour of dutifully taking all of the above comments on the chin, I issued the prepared apology and explained the reasons for my actions. I also provided my email address should any of the outraged tweeters wished to contact me directly for a calmer, more constructive, discussion.

If I had genuinely offended anyone, or caused a second of unnecessary upset, I wanted to discuss it and offer an honest apology – one that would be longer than 140 characters and perhaps a little more human.

Amazingly, all those people that had so much to say during their throws of being so unforgivably offended; suddenly dried up upon seeing the reality of the moment.

In short, when offered the chance to honestly engage with the person they found so deplorable and had freely insulted, threatened and vilified – they chose to become opaque and disappeared as quickly as a chip being fought over by a plague of starved rats.

I can only assume my dumb-ass comment hadn’t offended anyone that night. It pointed more towards a moment seized upon by a group of people that perhaps lack a more meaningful anchor within their lives – caring a little too much about a pop star, and not enough about their own questionable actions of self-justified retaliation?

In essence, these outraged and offended followers had only managed to mimic the ignorant and malicious position I had adopted – the only saving grace was that mine was a construct, I can only guess at what their genuine reasons for such behaviour were.

And once the mob mentality and knee-jerk piling on had disbanded enough to become unworthy of their faux abhorrence, the validity of the concern shown became truly transparent, comical and utterly indicative.

For the most part, the whole evening had stunk of that acceptable facet of verbal assault, via keyboard, which seems destined to be the foul undercurrent of an otherwise remarkable tool of mass communication.

Social media seems to have provided a flawless breeding ground for some truly breathtaking witch-hunts. The ability for people to group together, and attack from the safety of large numbers and unknowable distance, is truly frightening – particularly if you don’t have the stones to dismiss it all as stupid Twitter comments, and really not worth the candle to begin with.

For me, it’s a wicked by-product towards the larger benefits enjoyed from freedom of speech. How the likes of Twitter and Facebook can provide anyone with a podium to have their views and voice made public. Albeit usually from behind a curtain of absolute anonymity, and delivered without real ownership or consequence.

I should also add that throughout this episode, James Arthur was the only one of us who responded like a responsible, measured and assured human being.

How does that saying go: “You can choose your friends, but not the crazies that follow you!”

Paul Millard 2014

http://www.playboy.com/articles/stop-saying-sorry-on-twitter

http://variety.com/2014/biz/news/fired-opie-and-anthony-host-wont-apologize-1201261702/

Snarky Tuesday Mark Twain

I HESITATE TO SUGGEST ANYONE LEAVE A COMMENT ON THIS ONE!

No Signal For You!

I’ve recently changed jobs. Yes, I know what you’re all thinking, “So, in addition to the astounding quality of dross produced on this website, he also does a proper job?!?!” I do… well, I used too. Many years ago back when I was working in and around London I did several proper jobs, and I was quite good at a few of them, these days I’m interned on the south coast of England, and now dwell within the quagmire offices of whatever company is hiring – prior to their filing for bankruptcy.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I escaped the last place I was sentenced too – a truly awful shithole in which slimy, obnoxious, dim-witted sales agents fleeced old people out of their money, by falsely promising to provide cruise holidays the company could never hope to deliver as advertised/lied about. It was the most dreck-filled sleaze pit I have ever had the misfortune to sit within… think shitty high street McDonald’s, but with a photocopier.

After eventually rediscovering my soul, I quit the place in question and now work within yet another office, located in a very nice hamlet town just outside of Guildford (I’m slowly inching away from the seaside wankers, and back to my beloved metropolis). However, this recent change of paymaster has brought up a very alarming side to my being, one that I was totally oblivious too.

You see, in the English countryside we have a great many things – cricket greens, cobbled streets, fudge shops, incest and charitable devil worshipping. The houses are older than the Lost Ark (and just as difficult to find), and the people are warm, gentle of face and just a little bit fascist.

However, during my two weeks among the tweeded gentry, I noticed the one thing they don’t seem to have… a decent cell phone reception.

What the hell is wrong with this place? How can I stand literally anywhere within a three mile radius of my office, an office that is located amongst some of the country’s most expensive real estate, and not get a sodding phone signal? At first I thought my new employer was utilising some MI5, phone cancelling, spy-shit technology to stop its workers from looking at Plenty of Fish and Grindr. In fact, no one cares about sexual deviancy in the countryside, and my lack of being able to “phone home”, was the result of my network provider’s ass awful coverage. Bastard!

Now whilst that may be annoying, and seriously affecting my scores on Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, what I find more alarming is my newly discovered attachment to my phone. Seriously, when did I start to care about my phone? Have I really become that person – the kind of clone who cannot be without their app-filled guardian for one second longer than it takes for yet another insignificant selfie to appear on Instagram?

I hate to say it, but the answer is yes. I need my phone. I need to be plugged into the Twitter-verse at all times, I need instant news from my various RSS feeds, I need the half-arsed opinions from the countless blogs I subscribe too, I need to see my email, my SMS service, my WhatsApp, my Snapchat. I need the ability to listen to a podcast whilst taking a shit, or watching YouTube videos about people I’ve never met… whilst taking a shit. I need to be linked-in, facebookered, instagramified and all other things I’m probably subscribed too but don’t fully understand.

I never knew how dependant I was until some bastard mobile phone operator skimped on its mast technology and left a town full of city laywers and smugs of Prii (if you’re not sure, that’s the collective noun for more than one Prius), in digital darkness. In short, I say goodbye to my phone signal as I park up, and I don’t see it again until I’m ten minutes into my commute home.

It’s been two weeks now and I feel utterly out of the loop. My stupid twitter comments are no longer consistent or relevant to whatever celebrity died that morning, I can’t keep track of my hate mail from this website, and my wife is unable to drop me little texts to remind me that I’ve forgotten to get our kid out of the bath… again.

It’s got to a stage where I’m thinking of dropping a line to social media pimp Mark Zuckerberg. I heard on several news feeds, a series of tweets, and his MySpace page that he is planning to fly drones across Africa – in an effort to provide broadband connection and Facebook adverts to those people who don’t have access to clean drinking water. How about leaving that shit to Bill and Melinda Gates, and send a few of your drone things over to parts of Surrey and Sussex?

I can’t be alone in thinking that some first world problems demand a billionaire’s third world solution?

Paul Millard 2014

when-your-phone-has-no-signal

 DON’T FORGET TO LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW, YA LITTLE PUKES!

Snarky Tuesday Paul Millard Drugs1

Are You On Facebook?

Image

If I had to pick one question that sums up the past six years of society on Planet Earth, this would be it.  I am asked it on a weekly basis by various people, sometimes by the same people who asked me the same question the previous month!

In fact, I’m not actually sure how I should take this repeated questioning?  Is it out of pure fucking amazement that I’m one of the few remaining who does not have a Facebook account, or is it more a spiteful sarcasm that sails clearly over my head?  Who knows… who gives a shit?

Facebook – the mind controlling, all-seeing, all-knowing, self-inflicted lifestyle choice that George Orwell didn’t get around to explaining.  CCTV and Big Brother, Room 101 and the Ministry of Truth… all this stuff is puppy-dog tails and Julie Andrews singing on top of a big mountain when compared to the hypnotic gait and consuming addiction Facebook has to offer.

I don’t like it.  All these people updating every fucking second of their life to an audience of people who they last saw in infant school.  Or even worse, updating every second of their life in order to inform the same people these clueless shit-wits work with eight hours a day – and the family and friends they see for the rest of the time.  Why bother?

Ok, ok I know what you’re thinking – this is all a bit rich coming from a man who runs a website, writes for a dozen more, and forces his twaddle down your throat.  While I may not like the association, it’s a fair point to make.   My only saving grace is that I don’t fucking care what you think.  You need to go searching for my crap, and even if you stumble upon it, you have a choice to ignore it… furthermore, judging by the number of hits I get each month, there seems to be plenty of disturbed individuals with clearly nothing better to do than trawl though this rhubarb – so stick that in your friends list and smoke it!

What’s your Facebook status?  What’s the point?  I can’t be the only one who finds little messages telling everyone how happy they are in love, or how they just managed to buy a really expensive dress, or how they got Rohypnoled (again) last night, completely banal and the folly of teenage girls with too much free time on their hands… am I?

JIM99 is really looking forward to a party this weekend, and FatDud was so pleased to see KathyWoodenSpoon in the pub last night, and Paulfuckingboredwiththisshit is about to buy a machete.

Do I have a Facebook account?  Yes, I do.  A few years ago, and under the cover of darkness, I stealthily opened an account.  I told no one of this seeming reversal of attitude and duly entered all my details like a snuffling, two-faced, little troll boy.

Names of schools attended, names of jobs sacked from, names of pets owned, names of school pets that got jobs, names of jobs that got pets then went to school, I entered the lot.  I didn’t want too, but it was all in the name of science and proving my own twisted little point.

Two weeks later, I received a telephone call from my younger sister.  In between bouts of family shit and other things, she uttered, “You’re finally on Facebook then?”  Whilst my sister is capable of many things, I have no reason to believe she is a witch – how did she know I was on there?  It took two weeks, for fucks sake!

I was going to leave it for a month, but this prompted me to take a look at the account earlier than I had anticipated.  Sure enough, there was my sister asking to be my friend (the fact she has been my sister for forty-two years is by the by and fucking worthless in the world of Facebook!), and she wasn’t the only one on there.

I had a friend request from a girl I last saw over thirty-five years ago.  How in the name of God’s glorious piss did she find me?  Has everyone turned into part-time psychic detectives, who constantly search for everyone they have ever known, so they can write on their wall about how fucking happy they are that Sharon Awful has got through to boot camp on X-Factor?

There were others on there, two of which I knew, the others I had absolutely no recollection of.  It’s fair to say that many years of smoking copious amounts of weed has held my memory back a little, but I haven’t quite given up the ghost yet.  I had no idea who these people were.  I find this particularly creepy and one of the reasons why I can’t get on with this Facebook cult.

Two people who I don’t know, and who may or may not know me, requesting they be my friends – if these fuckers really knew me (and how prickly and snarky I usually am), then I wouldn’t get the friend request in the first place, would I?

And now to pull the pin and clear the room of all these fevered egos – I’ll argue with anyone who fails to accept their real need for Facebook – to nose around other people’s lives, to check that someone isn’t doing better than you, and to collect as many people on your Friends List as possible as a means of looking popular and relevant.  Seriously, if collecting stuff is your thing then buy some fucking Pokémon cards!

Surely in a world plagued with online dating horror stories with sex pests and pedophiles around every corner (according to the Daily Mail), isn’t there something dreadfully wrong with this picture?  However, in order to wrap this shit up and by way of an example, I had two people in particular who requested me on Facebook – one of them is my own sister who I already have more than enough contact with thank you, and a girl I once sat next too when I was 7 years old.  Talk about opposite sides of the cyber scales!

So, did this little exercise convert me to Facebookism?  Have I dumped that ill-informed sniffy opinion towards its millions of users?  Not a fucking chance.  I’ve still got the same shitty attitude towards both it, and its more desperate users.

In short, Facebook is a place where you are defined, in seconds, by the worst choices you have made and the worst aspects of your character.  The ‘piling on’ of communal scrutiny and instantaneous opinion is vile – add to that a squeeze of public shaming and it becomes obscene and monstrous.  It’s the realization of a self-appointed lynch-mob, borne from friends and acquaintances you have collected in the name of popularity.

Sometimes a single photo tagged within a page of meaningless and harmless nonsense can result in the worst fucking forms of judgment, aggression, bullying and general disassociation towards the human behind the Facebook account.

Ok, so Facebook may just be the technological progression that is diametrically linked to the pace of our modern culture, the crazy velocity of communiqué, and the strength in our ability to crave, syphon, and reassemble information.  However, it’s equally the result of our obsession with titillation, public self-destruction, moral liquidation and a Daily Mail idiot conviction that has become a fucking petri dish for the worst aspects of communal misjudgment – all purveyed and farmed by anyone with a smartphone.

Not for nothing, public humiliation and public shaming was outlawed as a formal, state-sanctioned reprimand during the 19th century.  It was banned, and was considered by the law-makers at that time as a cruel and unusual punishment to bestow.  My word… look how far we have come.

With all this said, and if I’m being completely honest with you, dear reader, I’m also scared of Facebook.  I’ve not been back to the account since this incident; and I’m genuinely worried about who will crawl out of the woodwork next, who might be looking for me, who wants to be my special friend – here’s hoping that guy who touched my front bottom when I was six doesn’t have an account!

Paul Millard 2014

Image