It’s been a while since I posted a status update on Facebook

It’s been a while since I posted a status update on Facebook. Probably mostly because my current unemployed life of reading, watching TV, playing video games, walking, surfing and doing not much else is not often worthy of comment. Oh, yes, I have applied for more than 50 jobs and have not received so much as an interview in return. But I’m not looking for pity; I simply consider that a fact worthy of comment.

It’s also the nature of internet social media that’s rendered me silent on Facebook recently. A nature that has caused introversion in me for the same reasons the real world often does: its immensity and complexity. The realisation that the volume and character of my particular voice must be insignificant when set beside the cumulative voices of the rest of the online world. Or at least my friends list. It’s a view occasionally reinforced by statuses of mine which are completely ignored by more than 100 people I’ve decided, in some context or another, are my friends. It’s ironic that among such ignored posts, links to blog posts such as this have been the most commonly ignored. Sure, many people have little time to read more than a few sentences these days. But again: assuming some of the people exposed to the material have been, are or would always claim to be friends of mine, it is disheartening that indifference is so often adopted.

It’s also an energy thing. The numerous – but thankfully not necessarily grand in scale – failures I’ve suffered during my life in pursuit of various objectives have taught me that my energy, along with my time, is precious. That although failure is valuable for learning it is also taxing and can draw energy from other pursuits presently doomed to failure that might otherwise have been successful. Basically what I mean is that not only is online social networking not necessarily productive, even from points of view such as entertainment, but its pursuit as a pastime can sap energy from other worthwhile or even vital activities (ironic that the auto-type on my phone tried to write “viral” instead of “vital”, there). That idea might not be particularly new, but when one is given enough time to consider its implications (by, for example, disabling one’s Facebook account for a couple of months), the resulting realisations are frightening.

And, finally, it’s a privacy thing (another irony, considering some of the personal things I’ve aired on this blog). Social media is a wonderful way of accessing all sorts of interesting facts of various degrees of dubiousness about people we know. One of the problems is, and this might be only me, if someone is interested in something I find either irrelevant or reprehensible, I’m much less forgiving online. I’ve removed at least four people from my friends list for ‘liking’ that Tom Waterhouse suckhole. But in person I’m unlikely to be so critically dismissive of the same person. And this isn’t necessarily balanced out in terms of severity by my favourable opinion of someone who shares an interest of mine. Although the online, as opposed to real world, medium does arguably allow for a deeper conversational exploration of two peoples’ mutual interests. At least if they both feel more comfortable expressing themselves in writing than otherwise. So I guess from that point of view I can understand that perhaps some of my statuses/blogs are offensive or not easy to relate to, and that is why they’re ignored. Understanding doesn’t lessen the disappointment, though. And the other problem is about delivery. Even though I, and many others, try to make my posts humorous, thought-provoking or at least well written (for all I know some people might interpret writing competence as a form of pomposity), there’s probably a lot of people on my friends list who simply don’t care. And simply don’t care to such a degree that my post’s presence on their news feed causes an angry reaction in them. Something’s got to explain so much complete disregard. I simply don’t like the idea of making people angry. And not because it causes me fear, but because I try to have a positive (albeit maybe sometimes jarring) influence on people.

Well, there you go: four reasons. That’ll do. It’s 3am and I’ve indulged in an often suppressed urge to write at an inappropriate time. I suppose, all things being equal, it’s a better indulgence than cigarettes or alcohol. Especially on a Tuesday night. For all you workers out there: thanks for the dole money. Hopefully you’re consoled by the fact that it’s going back in to the economy anyway, even if you’re not consoled by the fact that it helps me to live at least a subsistence existence.

PS If you are on my Facebook friends list and you’ve bothered to read this whole thing, please comment on or at least ‘like’ it. I mean, even if we or one of us wouldn’t technically consider each other ‘friends’, chances are you’re on my list because I at least value to some degree what’s in your brain. So why the bloody hell not share it (what’s in your brain; I’m not trying to force you to share this post (but go ahead if you want))?

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Voice to Vexed

“HELLO. The person you were trying to call is unavailable. Please leave a short, 10 second message, and it will be sent as a text message.”

Beep.

Stress related brain, head and most of upper-torso explosion.

Many have been there. If you haven’t, congratulations. But you obviously didn’t have mobile phone reception or a, cough, landline with you while you were living under a rock. At least you do have internet in order to sympathise with the rest of the long-suffering us. Well, probably not that long. Maybe a decade.

Anyway: Voice-to-Text is an irritating service which, as its name mostly explains, involves speaking for 10 seconds a message which is hopefully, but by no means certainly, accurately converted to a text message and sent to the person you called. Unfortunately, there are a few problems with this piece of technology that I’d liken – because it’s one of those things that should be un-invented – to napalm or Justin Bieber:

1. Rumour goes (and don’t quote me, because I’m normal and have regular voicemail) that, for example, say someone recites “Hey baby, you were great last night and I’m looking forward to giving you a spanking this weekend” to a Voice-to-Text answering service. Apparently, as far as the service is concerned, the message could end up reading as “Hey baby, your mum was great last night and she’s looking forward to giving me a spanking this weekend”. Or like this: “Hlr blby, u wirz rgtea lst nikt nnd ‘mi lurking frwad 2 gavgld yrdkdd sping thers wblend.” Confusion can quite easily reign supreme;

2. When you call someone it’s generally because you want to say something at such length, detail and possibly importance that a text message, or Goddamn 10 second Voice-to-Text message, is insufficient. And at the very least, under the circumstances, you really need to be answered by voicemail. I mean, we’re dealing with communication here; a vital human tool that pre-dates bloody agriculture;

3. Use of the service threatens domestic, professional and possibly political nightmares if you use your phone to call your wife, mother, kids and/or boss, for the above listed reasons. It could end up being a Sliding Doors moment, to regrettably but aptly use a cliché. You know, that awful (well maybe some people like it) movie starring Gwyneth Paltrow, in which she catches a train in one part of the two-part plot, and misses it in the other, causing an alternate and not necessarily pleasant set of events. Basically, Voice-to-Text has the potential to cause relationship breakdowns, civil unrest and the complete destruction of the universe. Think I’m being hysterical? Hey, imagine if someone had phoned Archduke Franz Ferdinand just before he stepped out the door to go for a car-ride with his wife on the fateful morning of June 28, 1914. If he’d had Voice-to-Text, it could have been the very reason why he was assassinated.

This is a verbatim message I recently spoke to my brother’s Voice-to-Text service, quoting Chief Clancy Wiggum from The Simpsons: “This is Papa Bear. Put out an APB for a male suspect, driving a . . . car of some sort, heading in the direction of, uh, you know, that place that sells chili. Suspect is hatless. Repeat: hatless.”

This is what appeared as a text message on his phone: “This is Papa Bear. Put an APP for a male suspect throwing up the car or some sort being the direction of you know that place is so chilly. Suspect is helpless. Repeat.” For closure and possibly a small giggle, Homer, apparently overhearing the porky policeman’s monologue, goes on to say “I can’t wait until they throw his hatless butt in jail”. God only knows exactly what Voice-to-Text would make of that.

Amazingly, there seems to be no complaints specifically about this service on that ultimate place of airing one’s dirty laundry: the internet. Though there’s plenty of whingeing about word processing voice recognition software. Perhaps I am a purveyor of melodrama. Maybe I have made a novel out of a text message or a rant out of a muttered curse. In that unlikely case, in order to make one last attempt at illustrating my point, please comment if you disagree. But, the condition is you may use only 10 words in your comment. GOODBYE.