Tag Archives: Facebook

Sanctimonious, Self-righteous, Groupthink

sheepI’ve noticed on Facebook in particular and to a lesser extent on Twitter a tendency towards a hideous self-righteousness that is driving me crazy. My town of Lymington has a Facebook page called Lymington Rumour Control that is supposed to be a lighthearted watercooler (or village pump if you go back that far). The plan was that local people could gossip about local events in a lighthearted manner, share a joke and generally get along with each other.

However, in the past year a hideous form of groupthink has arisen whereby you must agree to the following tropes or be denounced and verbally shat on by the scores of mouth-breathers who inhabit the site

  • Our local community hospital can do no wrong
  • All local shops and business are exemplary and must be supported even if they are feckless rip-off merchants
  • The armed forces are saints
  • Fireworks emanate from Satan’s darkest nether regions and should be banned as they scare dogs, cats and most importantly horses
  • You are a Nazi sympathiser if you don’t wear a poppy for Rememberance Day
  • Cyclists and gypsies should be banned from the New Forest
  • …and the list goes on

What I particularly dislike is self-righteousness of these opinions. Who would want an animal to suffer ? therefore no fireworks for anyone. If we don’t support local businesses we will end up with 23 branches of McDonalds in the High Street.  It is so thoughtlessly binary; A or B, if you criticise the hospital you de facto want to destroy the NHS. There is no debate or nuanced discussion; just for it or if not for, against.

Our local hardware shop Knights closed and people rung their hands in nostalgic outrage. The fact that the owners plan to sell the land to a property developer to build retirement homes is conveniently overlooked. The news was greeted with the same degree of shock as if the National Anthem had been replaced with Gangnam Style and Winston Churchill was gay. Now we have Screwfix, a national chain, that are open longer hours, seven days a week and are, as a result a great deal more convenient. But God forbid you should mention the fact as you’ll be denounced as some disloyal, bourgeois interloper who’s only aim in life is to destroy our precious High Street which as it happens is filled with charity shops and coffee bars.

So my message to the pseudo-outraged of Facebook is calm down and get some perspective or as they say so eloquently in the United States. Take a chill pill.





Imagine being at a party and a man starts a conversation by showing you a collection of 10×8 glossy prints of his colonoscopy. You be a little startled not to mention mildly revolted. Or when you innocently say “looks like a nice day today” to the postman and he then lists the average temperatures for today for each year since 1874. Time to put the anti-serial killer squad on speed dial. You see there is a real danger of overshare in modern life.

This is how I felt when I started using an excellent but slightly OCD app called IFTTT (If This Then That). Let me start by saying that I am pretty organised, OK let’s be frank, mildly over-organised. My wife and I share linked grocery and to-do apps, our calendars sync but one person’s anal retentive is another person’s organised life. So I make no apologies. The danger I see is that people are automating life to an often ridiculous extent. Let me explain.

I welcome technology that makes my life easier. My phone’s lock switches off when I’m near my home wifi, I set automated alerts to remind me to send birthday cards and I use the wonderful Todoist app to take things out of my brain and organise them into a to-do list. So far, so normal. If I get a voicemail, a notification is placed in my to-do list so I can call the person back. When my tenants pay their rent, my bank sends me a text thus saving me the hassle of checking up on them. These and a host of other small conveniences are the oil in my daily gearbox. Odd phrase but you know what I mean.

But when does it get out of control?

IFTTT is a clever system that links together disconnected web services. So at a simple level, it can backup a copy of your phone contacts to Google Drive (or why not just use Gmail). It can save a copy of your Instagram photo to Dropbox. You get the idea. All very heart warming for us of the mild OCD persuasion. 

Sadly, for some this sensible tending of one’s data garden isn’t enough and they wish to use the power of IFTTT to spew an endless stream of PO (personal overshare) to their massive army of ‘friends’ and ‘followers’, 80% of whom they hardly know. Here are some examples.

  • Post their GPS location to Facebook. Every time they change location a message is posted on Facebook. For 99% of their boring lives they will be telling people, that they went to work, popped out to the supermarket, went home and went to work again. 
  • Post their ‘fave’ tracks from Last FM to Twitter. This happened to me with an ex-colleague and now ex-Twitter follower. ‘Jon’s top tracks this week were Shake your Booty by Ghana Bus Stop, Sex up your Groove Thing by Pubic Lice and Hurting Inside by Prolapsed Rectum’. I have absolutely no interest in what a guy a worked with five years ago is listening to.
  • Post your steps from Jawbone to Facebook. Do I really care that some distant cousin or casual acquaintance has done 3129 steps today? How does that make me feel? Will I remember it so I can comment attentively when I next see her? “Hello Janet, I noticed you only did 214 steps on Thursday 14th, and your relationship status changed to single and your Ocado order was full of cakes. Are you comfort eating because your ex-boyfriendI dumped you? Should I inform Weight Watchers?”
  • Publish the current weather to Twitter. This defines dull. Do I care that raining in Reigate or sunny in Stockport. No of course I don’t and if I want to know what the weather is like where I live I’ll just LOOK OUR OF THE F’ING WINDOW rather than waiting for a Tweet from statingthebleedingobvious.com (free with in-app purchase)

The problem with so many of these services is that they remove the sense of discovery when you meet long lost friends. In olden days it was called ‘having a bit of a catch up’. You’d sit down with an old friend and spend an hour catching up on their lives and they on yours. You got to focus on the good bits and give them a potted history of your recent past. Now so many people are broadcasting their daily activities there is no mystery or surprise.

“Hello Pete, how was the holiday in Crete,? Glad that Jeanie passed her exams, pity about Mr Tiggles, good news that the piles have cleared up. I see Mrs Jones from number 27 is off with the milkman, do you like your new Hyundai Coronary?, still sore after the vasectomy? Notice you’ll be skiing in February, the office Christmas party looked wild? Saw it was raining down your way again”

“Me I’m fine” 

So, to sum up. I enjoy IFTTT for those tiny, nuanced improvements to my daily life. For the rest of the narcissistic overshare, please don’t or I’ll have nothing to talk to you about.



5 things I really hate about Facebook

Now we all hate Facebook to some degree. For some it’s the dreadful privacy policies, for others the way that companies and brands are trying to be cool and trendy with pointless competition and viral campaigns. But the things I hate most is how my news feed is being polluted by pointless, pseudo-feelgood garbage. Here are some examples.

1. Pointless Likebait

Likebait is like linkbait where some person seeks to harvest as many Likes as possible usually by sharing a supposed sob story about a sick kid/sick animal/etc. This is the old email chain letter in the age of social media. It is just some guy or more likely a marketing firm trying to harvest Likes. 

So my Newsfeed gets stuffed with stories of some American kid who wants to meet Harry Potter and will do if only he can get 1,000,000 Likes.

2. Inspirational images

These I really hate. This is the equivalent of visual sewage. You have a picture of a sunset/baby/dandelion/kitten and some hideous piece of trite inspirational text taken from Jonathan Livingstone Seagull or Kahlil Gibran or some other equally vapid homily. These stupid images crop up on a seemly daily basis often shared from sites filled with this nonsense. My tip is to unfriend anyone who sends you this rubbish.

3. Cute animal pictures

Now I’m a fan of a funny cat picture or a lion picture but why do some people feel compelled to share these evey single sodding day. I mean it is possible to overdose on cute you know. When the sugar level gets too great there is a danger that you will go into a diabetic coma and I’m pretty close.

4. Insecurity posting

There are a group of people who are convinced that their friends will forget about them unless they post everyday. These people are more concerned with frequency than content so they will repost any old toot as long as they get likes and comments. So they spew out old YouTube videos by the score in the hope that their friends, who have naturally already seen the clip, think they’re cool .

5.  Gamers

This is really the end of road in Facebook spam. In this nightmare your friends play games on Facebook and forget to turn off the auto-notify feature. So you learn that one of your friends has just reached level 95 in Panda Bouncy Bounce or another has just won the Golden Staff of Thrall in Legends of the Golden Staff VI. This is of no interest to anyone AT ALL. Message these people and tell them to stop it NOW.

…..otherwise Facebook is great. 

Social Media Overload. A Cautionary Fairy Tale

Snow White yawned and reached for her iPhone, instinctively opening her Twitter app.  Not much going on she thought, Happy was still Tweeting about his big night out with some tall women he met at the Glass Coffin, a hopelessly trendy bar in town. Bashful was as silent as ever. Sneezy had pulled another sick day and Doc was flaming him on his Facebook wall for being a hypochondriac.  

She leapt out of bed and fired up her laptop and saw Grumpy and Doc where on IM and so sent them a quick HiHo.  She checked Gowalla and noticed Sleepy was still in bed, the lazy old person of restricted growth.  She tagged and uploaded a picture of herself and the hunky Prince she’d met last night and shared it on Facebook just to annoy Bashful and jumped on her Wi-Fi Body Scales which immediately Tweeted her weight to all her followers.  ‘Christ’ she thought ‘no change in my weight so nothing to update my fans with’.

Then she moved to the kitchen and immediately updated her location on Gowalla, Foursquare, Google and Facebook Places.  She noticed that her step-mother was heading to the fruit shop.  

Opening Spotify she checked the dwarfs’ playlists.  Dopey was having a big Bob Marley revival and Happy was still into Techno. While making a cup of coffee she decided to share last night’s dinner recipe with Socialmenus, GroupRecipies, TasteandShare and Bakespace as well as writing a quick review on Amazon of the baking tin. 

Casually glancing at Twitter again she noticed the Queen, her step mother, was moaning on about a new mirror and how she’s going to the the fairest in the land…again.  What was it with middle-aged members of the aristocracy hadn’t they heard about Botox.

Exhausted by a morning of constant updates she decided to have a nap.  She awoke to discover the beery breath of the Boozy, the dwarf no one talks about, trying to kiss her.  ‘No you pervert’ she screamed, ‘If you want to awaken me from my slumber, DM me like any other normal person’.

She grabbed the new kitchen knife she’d bought from Groupon on a 2 for 1 deal and stabbed him to death.  She was promptly arrested and you can follow the case on Twitter at #Who_Killed_Boozey or at Facebook.com/Snow_White_Is_Innocent.  



Is Facebook is bigger than America?

Countries have always been measured by population, but in reality, nation states are simply a convenient way of measuring geographic boundaries with some common political system, filled with people who often have different languages and religions. 

Maybe another way of looking at the world is through shared experiences. We have a more universal experience of Coca Cola than we do of Catholicism if the numbers alone are to be believed. So I decided to rank the nations of the world against some companies and their customer bases. It was interesting. There are more people alive who know Star Wars than are living in Russia and more people use Internet Explorer regularly than live in India.

So maybe in the future, wars won’t be waged between nations but customers. Although I think this is already happening. What is PC vs Mac but Protests and Catholics or Google and Bing but Christians and Muslims.

China 1,338,000,000 Internet Explorer 938,000,000
India 1,156,000,000 Microsoft Windows 920,000,000
United States 307,000,000 Facebook 350,000,000
Indonesia 282,000,000 Vodafone 330,000,000
Brazil 190,000,000 Gone with the wind  202,000,000
Pakistan 174,000,000 Firefox 186,000,000
Bangladesh 156,000,000 Walmart 180,000,000
Nigeria 149,000,000 Starwars  143,000,000
Russia 140,000,000 HSBC 128,000,000



Following the twits on Twitter


I’ve been using Twitter for a few weeks now and have discovered a number of interesting medical phenomena that effects newbies like myself. Some are similar to Facebook afflictions but some are unique to that tide of Twitter rubbish that passes through my iPhone.

The first is OCT. Obsessive Compulsive Twittering is when you feel compelled to not only record the most basic inanity of your life like “I’m drinking coffee” but in some cases to ask your followers “What would you like me to Twitter about?”. Imagine the replies. Please Twitter about the comedy scene in Rwanda or the latest antics of your rollerskating goat.

Next is Twitter Etiquette. You are able to search Tweets for keywords, as I did last night. Someone with a username of ElfinAxeBoy47 (identity changed to protect the innocent), asked about a good street photography site. Being a nice chap, I sent him a URL and he has now asked to follow me. WHY in the name of all that is holy does he want to read the mind blowing tosh I generate. The same works in reverse. I have no idea who this person is and I fear I’ll be getting his gibberish every twenty minutes.

Twitter Paranoia is another affliction. This is also know as Twitter Envy and involves an irrational fear that you’re not being followed by enough people.  The sufferer (see ElfinAxeBoy47 above) tries to follow anyone just so they get bragging rights with the the group of strangers they like to call their followers.  If you want a taste of what it’s like to experience this, set your Twitterific client to Everyone and stand back for the tsunami of gentleman’s vegtables, to quote Jeremy Clarkson, that will come your way.

Finally, there is Twitter Insecurity Complex where the user feels compelled to post random irrelevance every five minutes.  This is also know as Facebook Status Overload.  You know the type.  At the bustop……..raining…….breathing………..walking to the office……………reading email………..stating the bleeding obvious…….being a moron.

I’m sure there are other conditions as yet undiagnosed.  If you’ve enjoyed this post you can subscribe to my drivel at……..@marklanigan.