Monday, 14 March 2011


This social networking thing's a laugh, isn't it?  

I grew up in the days when there was something called a 'postal service', which involved utilizing items called 'sheets of paper', 'envelopes', 'stamps' and legs with which to walk to 'postboxes'.  Not to mention 'cheery posties', who routinely disposed of their sack loads of 'letters' in refuse bins so they didn't have to risk having their fingers bitten off by your dog every time they stuffed the bills through the letterbox. (I'm talking England here. The US has it right with its mailboxes at the bottom of the drive. Not many dogs small enough to inhabit those. Although, here in Nice...hmm...)

Anyway, these days people can communicate with each other instantly without the employment of pens, legs or ferocious dogs. Facebook is here to stay.

I have to admit, although it took me a while to embrace it, I now see how much it has enriched my life. For one thing, as a freelance, it's good for expanding my contacts and promoting my blog (did I tell you I write a blog?) For another, I get to see what my son's up to. (Mixed feelings about that one). And then there's the educational factor...

It hit me just now how much of my life I've wasted in formal education. Four years at music college, three years at university, a post-graduate journalism course. And for what??? A couple of lousy degrees? A professional qualification? What on earth was I thinking???

If only I'd spent more time on Facebook, I wouldn't have had to devote all that time and energy into mastering a couple of instruments to professional standard (I came top in Comedy Violin in my year, as it happens. The Laugh-o-Meter nearly exploded under the strain).  Nor would I have had to have carried out all that in-depth reading on academic political theory, or sit at my desk in my study term after term, compiling reams and reams of research notes, turning them into essays and dissertations.

Because there are plenty of people out there anxious to educate me in their own way for absolutely no effort - or money! - on my part.

Wiki Man, of course, favours the 'Superman' technique.  Remember how, when the superhero fell to Earth in that speeding bubble, he was brainwashed with absolutely everything there was to know about life on our planet? Who had any inkling the information he absorbed had been compiled by Wiki Man on behalf of his favourite site? (You'll notice I didn't say 'edited' by Wiki Man, because, duh, he doesn't bother to leave any bits out.)

But there are also other ways of passing on knowledge. Namely, the 'slapped wrist' method.

I've just had my wrists slapped by someone on Facebook I've never met. This person has kindly taken the time to point out where I've been going wrong with my intellectual thought processes, and has also given me a few pointers with my grammar, too.  

Chloe once again started a thread.  (Haven't you got anything better to do, woman? Like knit mittens for Wiki Man so he can't cut and paste???)  This time it was about an article in The Sunday Times, which is owned by Rupert Murdoch and which has, some might say, a right wing slant. Another poster made a comment about not watching Fox News, and I asked if you didn't have to have a right wing gene to qualify for looking at that channel. And then Wiki Man's younger cousin appeared:-

nothing wrong with reading the news from any source, you can always spot an agenda if there is one. I read lots of them and make my own mind up.

So I wrote something to the effect that that's all very well, but if certain facts are left out of the story - as was the case with the Daily Telegraph only recently, leading to subsequent distortion of the truth - you wouldn't know about it, would you?

This was the response:-

which part of 'read lots of them' didn't you understand?

Ooo!  Chippy.

I replied that I had understood all of it. And that I make a portion of my living from journalism.

Look what came back:-

ahh, so you should have heard of agenda setting, research, and critcical analysis. I rarely believe what I read, as I am a media and communications graduate and also an ex-journalist. oh, and never start a sentence with 'and'!

WTF???  What had I done to deserve such a condescending attitude? Let alone from a 'media and communications graduate ex-journalist'. Never mind telling me off for starting a sentence with the word 'and'. (This from a person who hasn't yet got the hang of using capital letters at the beginning of a sentence).

I clicked on this woman's profile, looked at her photos. She can't have been an 'ex-journalist' for very long, since her age precludes her from having been a journalist for more than about half a hour.

I posted:-

Gosh. Suppose I must have come across agenda setting, research and critical analysis somewhere in my Politics BA and post-grad Journalism qualification. Not to mention 25 years writing for the BBC.

And it's a liberal democracy, I can start a sentence with whatever I like. (And don't believe everything they teach you on Media and Communications courses, either).

Perhaps it's the impersonality of these sites. You're not meeting people face to face, and the social politeness we learn to abide by in society * goes out of the window because you're too knocked out by seeing words you've typed yourself appear on the screen in front of you, leading you to believe you're actually more clever than you really are.

*Wiki Man excepted

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.  And (oops!) Facebook is stuffed to the brim with people with little knowledge.  

Not to mention rude ones.  


P.S.  And don't end sentences with prepositions.

1 comment:

Please be nice, but not funnier than me. Thanks.