E-friends Are Best!

e-friends

One of the coolest side effects of our society’s relentless technology is Social Media.  It has allowed us to turn our world into one gigantic village — which means we’re all cyber-neighours.  Everybody on this planet is now one tap, swipe or click away from everybody else, and billions of us have taken advantage of this.  Think about it!  We all know someone we’ve never talked to, never touched, never smiled at, or even seen.  These are the strangers who are our friends – our e-friends – and in the 21st century, we all have them.  There is still some debate over whether these e-friends are as good or even the same as IRL (In Real Life) friends, but in a couple of generations, this won’t even be a question … because … and here’s the best bit – e-friends are way better than real ones.  Let me demonstrate.

E-friends never waste your time with long, boring stories.   Regardless of how drawn-out their particular tale of woe might become, you don’t have sit there and listen.  The truth is, most people just scroll down to the end, type ‘awesome,” and move on.

E-friends never drag you off to places you don’t want to go.  When you live on the other side of the world, this never comes up on the panel – thank God.  So you don’t have to sweat the oboe recital, the fishing trip or what’s-her-name’s graduation – just to be polite.  All you have to do is make the right noises when your e-friends post the pictures.

They’re never mean to you.  E-friends are notoriously good-natured, and if they ever do go off the rails, all you have to do is delete them.

When e-friends talk about you behind your back, you’re never going to hear about it.

You don’t have worry about cleaning the house when e-friends come to visit.  In fact, you can talk to them in your pajamas if you so choose – and people frequently do.

You never have to put up with your e-friends’ annoying spouse, or know-it-all sister, or idiot dog who peed on your carpet or any of the other baggage IRL friends always bring along with them.

E-friends don’t force you make hard decisions like “Does this dress make me look fat?”  Normally, those photos are deleted long before they ever get to you.

E-friends never give you the flu.

E-friends don’t make promises they can’t keep.  Ganjit, from Chennai is never going to volunteer to help you move and then disappear the day the boxes are packed.  (I’m looking at you, Sam Newton!)

E-friends always listen.  When you’re talking to them they never get distracted by their phone – cuz you’re the one on the phone.

E-friends don’t borrow your stuff and forget to give it back.  You never have that awkward moment when you discover your e-buddy Betty is serving cake off a plate that she borrowed from you two Christmases ago.

But the best thing about e-friends is:

Age, gender, race, religion, nationality, income, etc., etc., etc. don’t make a damn bit of difference to e-friends.   They are the most egalitarian groups of people on this planet.  So, while most of the world is shouting and swearing and calling each other names, there are tons of little groups of e-friends, kicked back in various small corners of cyberspace, trying to get to know each other.  And that’s totally cool!

I’m Scared Of The Mob (2018)

I’m a coward.  I’m scared of the mob.

Social Media
Carolyn Bourcier 

One of the problems with observing our modern world is you spend most of your life in fear.  This comes from having an opinion and voicing it outside the comfy confines of your own head.  It’s a truism in the 21st century that, whenever you say anything about anything, you’re going to piss off somebody.  Most people get all free-speech-macho about this, but when push comes to shove, everybody knows that our society is unforgiving around unguarded opinions.  More importantly, when the mob turns against you, you’re punished severely.  This is why we’ll never produce a contemporary Mark Twain: the consequences of unedited thoughts, in today’s world, are just too dangerous.  Far better to be momentarily safe than monumentally sorry.  Thus, people with pens tend to stick to the road most travelled.  Unfortunately, that road is crowded with dumbass clichés.  Future anthropologists who attempt to piece together our society from the mountain of evidence we’re going to leave behind will conclude we had an unholy obsession with heterosexual white men.  They are the nominated villains of our time, so naturally the record will read like a bad John Grisham novel.   It’s a sorry state, I suppose, but it beats the hell out of our world according to Suzanne Collins and E. L. James!

Actually, there’s no real problem with history recording our time as the shallow end of the intellectual swimming pool.  None of us are going to be around to be embarrassed by it anyway.  Nor do we have to worry about future chroniclers calling us cultural cowards.  They won’t be the slightest bit interested in our existence.  After all, you get historical ink from speaking up, not lying down.

The thing that burns the bacon, however, is that having set the table for a vigorous and dynamic dialogue, we’re now scared skinny of the food fight it might create.  Just look around: we have a mostly educated public with the information of the ages at their fingertips (literally.)  We’ve cracked open the Old Boys’ Club and now have instant access to all manner of ideas from everywhere and everyone.  Furthermore, we live in a free society, where (for the most part) the rule of law gives free range to these ideas.  Life is good, right?  Wrong!  The first thing we did with this intellectual banquet was set dietary restrictions.  Not to beat the metaphor to death, we’ve populated our world with so many sacred cows that, in the land of intellectual plenty, we’re starving to death.

It used to be that the only thing that governed public discourse was civility.  There was decorum in our discussion.  For example, we didn’t call each other names – like alt-right asshat and snowflake libtard.  Perhaps certain subjects were handled delicately, but there was never any thought that they should be avoided.  In fact, it was a matter of honour to shine light into the darker parts of our society – distasteful or not.

These days, those days are over.  We have more conversational taboos than a tribe of Borneo headhunters.  (No offence, headhunters!)  There are a ton of subjects in our world that are simply no longer open for discussion.  Some of them I can’t even name in these pages without hollering up a verbal lynch mob.  In the past few years, this list has expanded exponentially.  Soon the only subjects anyone will feel comfortable commenting on will be Donald Trump’s infidelities and the zombie apocalypse.

People like me, who know enough about history to understand what the mob is capable of, are cowards at heart.  It’s one thing to go Vaclav Havel on the powers that be and strike out against censorship and oppression.  After all, history shows us that eventually the pen is mightier than the sword.  However, it’s quite another to stand alone in front of a self-righteous mob of social media trolls who are gathering the torches for a good old-fashioned Twitter roast.

In these troubled times, I do not fear the endless apparatus of the omnipotent state.  It’s the Eagerly Offended anarchy of social media that scares the crap out of me.

 

Full Disclosure: I originally wrote this is 2013 but had to do some editing because things have gotten a lot worse in 5 years.

There’s Gold In Them Thar Phobias

protestIn the 21st century, grievance is a growth industry — worth billions — and activists are the new entrepreneurs.  All hail the post-industrial economy!  However, milking White Privilege has become such a cash cow that’s it’s getting very crowded at the high end of the social justice and awareness trough.  To put it bluntly, there are only so many dollars Western society is willing to pay to ease its liberal guilt.  So in order to survive, activists are beginning to specialize.

For example, generic “anti-discrimination” branding simply doesn’t work anymore.  It’s too vague.  It’s got too many syllables, too many letters, too much going on, too many things to think about.  It just isn’t sexy.  It smells like pro bono law students and low-rent housing.  Sting and Susan Sarandon are never going to show up to raise awareness (read: money) for “anti-discrimination.”  However, rebrand it as, say, Anti-Islamophobia  — and now you’ve got something a creative activist can sink his (or her) fangs into.

First of all, adding somebody else’s religion to your cause is always a good idea* because everybody knows that only fascists and assholes are against freedom of religion.  So not only do you prove you stand for tolerance and diversity, you’ve also designated your opponents fascists and assholes.  Clearly, a twofer.
*except Christianity — Social Justice Warriors hate Christianity the way Satan hates the wafer.

Two, ya got the whole “phobia” thing going on.  We’ve been programmed from childhood to distrust phobias.  They are, after all, an irrational fear of things like spiders, #13, closed spaces, etc., etc. and people spend years in therapy, trying to get rid of them.  Thus, in one fell swoop, you’ve  declared that anyone who disagrees with you has a serious psychological disorder.  They’re not just voicing a different opinion — they’re sick.

But, I’ve saved the very best for last:

Ya want sexy?  Nothing feeds middle class imaginations like the tale of the helpless victim being rescued by the powerful hero.  This is the stuff Scheherazade and Disney built their careers on: the psychological territory that bodice ripper novels and Michael Moore documentaries are made of — and it runs deep, deep, deep in our subconscious.  So if you want to get into the worthy cause business, the formula is simple: identify a metaphorical damsel in distress, market a rescue mission and people will pay you big bucks for the privilege of being part of it.  Why?  Because, stereotypical or not, The Rescue is a very, very powerful sexual fantasy (on all sides of the gender equation) and people, especially here in the 21st century, desperately want to feel sexy.