12 minutes

Seriously, who starts writing a blog post 12 minutes before loadshedding is about to start, taking with it computer equipment, connectivity and safety?

Hello. It’s me.

I wouldn’t want to work for Eskom’s social media department. It’s a thankless task, constantly relaying bad news to a bloodthirsty audience of rabid, baying hounds, simply waiting to pounce on your every word.

Or to the keyboard warriors of middle-class South Africa, at least.

Same same.

But you can help yourself out if you’re in that situation. Like by not linking to an article in the Randburg Sun entitled:

Tips to help prevent burglaries during load-shedding

Firstly, this makes people feel (even more) unsafe within their own homes, and secondly, given that Eskom is responsible for the loadshedding, does that not imply some sort of responsibility for the increased crime during loadshedding?
I”m no legal expert, but I think it probably does.

The prosecution rests, your honour. Whenever it gets the chance.

But did they even read the article in question? In fact, did the person who wrote the article in question even read the article in question?

I’m just asking, given that some of the tips include:

Make provision for good outside lighting but switch the lights off during the day

Good outside lighting being imperative when there’s no electricity, of course.

And:

If your house alarm goes off or you hear strange noises or your dogs bark, switch on the outside lights, but do not go outside.

Of course, there being loadshedding, those good outside lights will be of limited no use, but you can flick the switch and hear the click of nothing happening if it makes you feel any better.

Also, because we have a beagle, our dog barking is quite a strange noise, anyway.
Two birds right there.

Ah yes. The lights have just gone out and they won’t be back on for another 2½ hours. It’s the third of these blackouts today and there will be at least another three tomorrow. I’m going to have to post this via my cellphone using the tower in the adjoining neighbourhood – our local one is down, as it always during these times. So now, I need to go and stand in my front garden to get signal.

It’s looking rather dark out there. I’d better go and switch on the outside lights.

 

Oh.

On online conflict (or not)

If there’s one thing that social media has done, it’s allowed a voice to the voiceless. And while that might seem like a good thing (and in some cases is a good thing), in the vast majority of situations, it’s actually a complete pain in the arse.

Take the anti-vaxxers, for example. I mentioned this last week: their online presence is every bit as big and organised as real medical professionals. And for a lot of people (who choose not to actually think), that means that their views are equally valid. You and I, each blessed with a functioning brain, can quite clearly see the difference between the two parties, and make up our own minds based on logic and information. Others, however, will take whatever they read first as gospel, no matter who happens to have said it, and that’s a real issue.

The other benefit/problem of this new found freedom of discourse is that you find yourself forced to continually interact with people that you usually wouldn’t choose to “in real life”, simply because you find yourselves on the same Whatsapp group because they bought a house 300m from yours or some such.

This could be incredibly enriching experience – an opportunity to see things through others’ eyes. However, in the vast majority of situations, it’s actually a complete pain in the arse.

And of course that swings both ways – they probably really don’t want anything to do with you either. And yet here we all are, each drawn together outside our comfort zones, wearing forced smiles and spouting false platitudes in order that we don’t get booted off the group in question and thus miss some vital piece of local information. Is it worth it? Of course it is – if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t still be on the group.

I don’t mind admitting that there are certain individuals on some social media groups who – for me (and others) – have gained “a reputation”. And not in a good way. You know what’s likely to be coming from them (because you’ve seen it a million times before), and you know that you’re not going to like it. Equally, I might be (indeed, I probably am) one of them to other people, simply because they don’t like what I say any more than I like what they say. We really wouldn’t last as friends. With good reason.

I don’t suffer fools gladly (because again, “in real life”, I don’t have to), but I really do try not to engage. I’ve got near endless patience and a wonderful ability to zone out and ignore most anything that annoys me. I have had plenty of practice of sitting on my hands and not responding to idiots people on twitter, and I’ve worked out that I don’t have to respond, even when someone shares something so utterly nonsensical that it rattles my spidey-senses.

But jeez. They walk among us. And on the internet, it’s likely that their voices are every bit of loud as ours. Sad and terrifying.

Both ends

It seems to me that I may have been burning the candle at both ends.

I’m tired and there’s wax everywhere.

It’s purely self-inflicted: the 2 hour time difference back to the UK means that at the moment, the football starts late and finishes very late. That means that I get to bed later still and yet the early morning school wake up still needs doing each day.

I could give the football a miss, but then also, I couldn’t. Last night’s games were too exciting to go to bed, and then there’s that difficult FOMO feeling as well. Since I’m not playing football at the moment, I need to get my fix somewhere: and that includes my social fix as well. 20 years ago, I could have watched alone and then written an email or blog post about it, but now, I can watch alone and then we can agree on just how bad the referee is with near immediacy on Whatsapp.

It’s not the same as going down to the pub and having a pint, but it is cheaper, safer and a whole lot less effort. Do we connect in the same way across a network as across a table? Probably not, but then I don’t think that the two are mutually exclusive. So sure, I use social media to communicate, but I still talk to people*.

It’s the FA Cup this weekend, which means less to me than the league, but I’ll probably watch some games anyway (and chat about them with friends). However, that fixture pile-up means that there is league football on three nights this week. I’m not quite sure how I’ll survive with so little sleep, but I’m still going to give it a go.

Just as soon as I’ve cleared up all this wax.

 

 

* when I have to

Like this

After a busy day making trees appear and making boxes disappear, I have fifteen minutes until my new favourite programme of the moment, Taskmaster, is on TV. I know that it’s awfully old-fashioned to be tied to a TV schedule when there are so many new-fangled ways of accessing visual content, but sometimes we need to go back to our roots and those halcyon pre-streaming times; to remind ourselves to stay grounded in this age of on-demand satisfaction.

Talking of on-demand satisfaction in the digital age, here are a couple of absolutely corking observations on that very theme:

[Oh wow. Neat segue.
Thanks.]

This one, via The Guru, brilliantly documenting our need for instant digital gratification via social media, what happens when we fall short of the mark (as we nearly always seem to do), and how there is still (real) life after no likes.

By the light of a phone screen, a little egg created a social media account.
One Sunday, the warm sun came up and — snap! — out of the egg emerged a very thirsty caterpillar, who posted an artfully disheveled selfie #wokeuplikethis.

And then this tweet, which simply explains what happens when things go right for any of your given posts, tweets or ‘grams:

Please press the button. I’m always in need of TGC.

And that’s why I’m off to watch Greg and Alex now.

[Oh wow. Neat segue. Again.
Thanks. Again.]

The World Cup win

I’ve been quite surprised at the online reaction to England’s Cricket World Cup win last night. So many calls that Stokes’ inadvertent extra boundary shouldn’t have counted, or should have counted for less (fewer?); so many people saying that the final outcome being decided by the number of boundaries in the game was “unfair” or “too arbitrary”.

Allow me a couple of points, if you will.

Firstly, it’s fine to be irrational, as long as you know you’re being irrational. Sport brings out the irrational side in a lot of people, and yesterday’s game encouraged it even more simply because it was so spectacular, so topsy-turvy, so big: and so damn close. The fact that it was played in such great spirit and with such gracious sportsmanship only adds to the emotion, and to the belief that neither side deserved to lose: that they should have simply declared it a draw (which is clearly hugely irrational, but it’s ok, because I know that I’m doing it).

Secondly, it’s really not “unfair” or “arbitrary” to decide a game in any given manner, just so long as the participants are aware of the rules ahead of time. It would be ridiculous to get to a tie at the end of the Super Over and then choosing a method to decide the winner. I’m sure that no-one could have believed that it would ever come down to how many boundaries each team had scored, but since there was a chance that it might, maybe Kane Williamson (yes, lovely guy) should have rallied his team to score more boundaries. Mind you, since this is kind of the aim of the batting side in cricket generally, I’m not sure why they weren’t trying to do this anyway.

It’s unfair (and irrational) to cherry pick the method of deciding the game only once one gets to the stage where one has to. But still, people thought they’d give it a go. Some other suggestions to decide the game might have been: using the result in the round robin matches (England would have won), the overall net run rate (England would have won), relative positions in the ten team league (England would have won), wickets lost in the Super Over (England would have won), overall boundaries scored in the tournament (England would have won).

But those all seem to have been ignored, with many people seeming to have settled on the number of wickets lost in the 50-over final, which conveniently would have meant that New Zealand took the match, and with it, the World Cup. Of course, it we’d all known about that up front, presumably both captains would likely have encouraged their side to try and lose fewer wickets (which is – again – pretty standard stuff unless you’re raking in some dollars in from some dodgy bookmakers).

Of course, it simply comes down to anti-England sentiment. Which is why we have to hear about all the different original nationalities of the players every time we play.

Everyone: England should accept more immigrants and put them in positions of responsibility.
ECB does it.
Everyone: Not like that.

And which, of course, is rather irrational.

But we’ve covered that already, haven’t we?

So here’s a photo of the World Cup winning team, full of diversity (except that they’re all men, obviously), who scored more boundaries than their opposition yesterday.

Well done, boys!