complaints, condescending twatbags, rants

Virtue signaling is at an all time high…

You know this term, virtue signaling? Apparently, it’s been around for a few years, but I just learned about it a couple of weeks ago. I’ve seen it in action for ages, though, and it’s a highly irritating practice. Virtue signaling is basically when a person says or does something that is basically meaningless in an attempt to look noble. An example I can think of is when people change their profile pictures on Facebook to show solidarity for something. They’re showing “support”, but if they don’t do something more significant, that action doesn’t lead to anything but the appearance of “good”.

People usually “virtue signal” for vain purposes. They want to look good, but they don’t necessarily want to do any work. So, say there’s been a mass shooting in Italy– just making this up– and a bunch of people change their Facebook photos to match the Italian flag. They don’t do anything else, other than change their Facebook photos or post a few memes. That doesn’t actually help anyone in Italy. It just makes the people who change their profile pics appear to be more sensitive to the suffering of people affected in Italy.

Or… say you know someone isn’t much of an animal lover, but all of a sudden, they start posting on social media about the plight of animals in shelters. It’s kinda bullshit, but the person looks like a more moral person for doing it, even if the truth is, he or she couldn’t care less about animals. There’s been no effort expended to make the animals suffer less. No money was donated. No time was given or supplies purchased. Basically, the posts do very little but make the person who shared them appear to be a more decent person.

I think that’s kind of what’s been happening during the coronavirus crisis. Lots of bored people have started jumping up on soapboxes that didn’t exist three months ago. Now, they are preaching about maintaining the guidelines for social distancing and mask wearing when, three months ago, this issue wasn’t even on their radar. Of course, it wasn’t on most people’s radars three months ago. We heard about people trapped on cruise ships and lots of people dying in China, Italy, and Iran. Now, everyone is an expert on the virus and what we should all be doing.

Yesterday, after seeing the same fucking meme shared for the hundredth time about why mask wearing is important, I decided to post something obnoxious. I knew it would get responses from people thinking I was referring to their posting habits. Actually, the “guilty” didn’t seem to notice this comment from me:

LOL… I have started hiding the “wear a mask” preaching posts. Enough is enough. If people haven’t gotten the message by now, they never will.

Seems to me that this is pretty simple. The point I was trying to make is that people have made up their minds. Sharing this meme or similar ones…

This is a RIDICULOUS example, made even worse by the obvious typo. Who goes around peeing on people? And if you’re a woman, no matter what you do, you’ll be peeing on yourself. As an explanation about the spread of coronavirus and wearing masks, I don’t think this works.

is not going to change anyone’s mind about the efficacy of masks. We’ve all seen this one and the blue death screen version of this same sentiment over and over again. Sharing it again doesn’t make you look smarter or wiser than anyone else. It makes you look like an asshole. Sorry… I know that comment won’t sit well with a lot of people, but that’s how I feel. It’s sarcastic, insulting, and completely discounts the legitimate reasons some people have for not “getting with the program”. I don’t know about you, but I’ve about had it with the self-righteous among us. And sharing a meme about urinating in public while naked to illustrate the importance of masks is just silly. At least share one that doesn’t have a typo in the heading.

Just as annoying, though, are the pleading memes like this one…

I’ve seen this one so many times. Do people really need to read this “explanation” over and over again?

I suspect some people continually do this because they enjoy getting feedback from the like-minded. They rack up a bunch of “likes” and “loves” and atta-girls or atta-boys, since the people who are irritated by them don’t typically say anything. Sharing something like this makes you appear to be a good citizen. But I think you’re a better citizen when you simply do your part to stem the tide of the coronavirus pandemic without the public displays of virtue signaling on social media. Most of us have read up on the masks and social distancing rules. Those who are believers in it already know all this stuff. Those who have made up their minds to rebel are not going to be convinced by your meme. The rest of us, who would like to just wait this shit out without becoming deathly ill, are getting fatigued.

Does sharing memes like this one over and over again change the minds of people who think wearing a facemask is “living in fear”? Probably not. But you might get a lot of likes and loves from the people who think it’s a good point.

My post got some comments from people. I had to reassure a couple of them that I wasn’t talking about them sharing news articles and expressing outrage over the way some people in the United States are behaving. I don’t condone the idiots who are protesting en masse in state capitals, threatening government officials, toting their guns, and being thugs. To be clear, I do respect the rules. I have left my house/neighborhood twice since March. The one time I went into a store, I did wash my hands and wear a mask. I got in and out of there as quickly as I could. The other time I went out, I stayed in the car. I even stayed strapped in, because I didn’t want Bill to turn into Pat Boone.

At one point, though, I brought up car seat, anti-circumcision (skintactivists), and breastfeeding “Nazis”. Before the face mask controversy, I’d most often see the virtual signaling behavior whenever someone shared a picture of a child in a car seat. It never fails. Post a picture of your kid in a car seat and you damned well better be sure that kid is strapped in perfectly correctly. Otherwise, you’ll get an online lecture from some self-appointed car seat twit who wants to critique your buckling technique. Same thing with breastfeeding and circumcisions. You get yammering from someone wanting to educate you about why “breast is best”, or why you shouldn’t get your infant son’s foreskin removed. Sometimes, people have good reasons for the decisions they make for themselves or their families. Sometimes their reasons aren’t any of your business. Most people are trying to do the best they can and probably ought to get the benefit of the doubt. But try to tell that to the zealots and they won’t hear you any better than the rebels do.

So anyway, we were having a good discussion about this issue, when I got a comment from a car seat specialist who defended her “right” to share car seat memes “any darned time” she wants. Well, first of all, I never said you couldn’t share your memes. It’s YOUR page. You can share whatever you want to on your page. What I said was, I am HIDING the shaming memes because I’m tired of looking at them, and I find them annoying, insulting, and depressing. And secondly, if you legitimately know what you’re talking about on a subject, then share away! I don’t have an issue with people who have valuable things to share that are genuinely educational and beneficial. And I wasn’t specifically talking to or about you and your social media habits. My issue is with people who went to the Facebook School of Medicine and want to educate and enlighten the rest of us with their brilliant insights they learned on social media. And they share the same fucking things over and over again. At what point have you preached enough? Does that happen when every single person is bowing to peer pressure? Or does it happen when the next big controversy arises?

I must admit, sometimes this is how I feel when I read yet another social media based lecture, especially when it’s in a meme.

I just read a really good article about how to talk to people who don’t wear face coverings. I think it’s very good, of course, mainly because I agreed with what was stated. Shaming and scolding are never good behaviors among adults. It doesn’t get people on your side; it pisses them off. Sometimes, it even leads to violence. I noticed an exchange on a friend’s page the other day. One of her friends wrote that she’d threatened to “throat punch” someone who wasn’t wearing a mask in the checkout line at the grocery store. Another friend took issue with the threat of violence over the mask wearing. The first friend– the would-be throat puncher– then shared that snarky “peeing” meme with the typo to explain why masks are important. Then she told the other woman to “educate” herself. Asshole behavior, if you ask me– and I was glad to see that the other woman didn’t take it lying down. There’s no excuse for threatening violence, especially at a time like this. It doesn’t make you look like a “badass”. It makes you look stupid. Maybe the woman had a reason for not wearing the mask, or maybe she was just being inconsiderate. Either way, there was absolutely no need to threaten her with violence.

I think we’re all under a lot of stress. I think it’s best to be kind and try to be understanding as much as possible. As for me… I’m not sure when I’ll be leaving the house again. I don’t like the masks, but I like shitty confrontational behavior from other people even less. But I’m going to try not to preach about this on Facebook. That’s why I write a blog. 😉

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If you’re too busy to read, you’re too busy to comment…

Today’s topic is about one of my many pet peeves, which will probably seem silly and very petty to some people, but is a genuine irritant to me. If you’re not in the mood for pointless griping, you might want to move on. Here goes.

A few days ago, I shared a story with my Facebook friends about a raccoon who went to one of Germany’s many Christmas markets and got drunk on Gluhwein. The story’s headline was “Drunken raccoon staggers through German Christmas market, passes out”. Unlike a lot of people who saw that headline, laughed, and moved on, I took the time to read the article. I knew it wasn’t going to end well for the raccoon, because just under the headline, there was a sub-headline that read,

“The tipsy raccoon apparently couldn’t hold back from having a good time at Erfurt’s Christmas market. However, the furry creature’s daytime drinking binge ended in grisly fashion.”

It turned out the raccoon, whose welfare had been safeguarded until the fire brigade could pick it up, wasn’t taken to an animal shelter as expected. Instead, the raccoon was given to a hunter, who then shot it. I was reminded of a discussion I’d had with a college friend who had friends under the impression that there are no guns in Germany. I tagged him in the post and wrote, “Now see… there are guns in Germany after all.”

What did this friend do? Like so many other people, he laughed at the headline without reading or even skimming the article. My comment about guns wasn’t even enough to tip him off that maybe he should read the article to see why I mentioned guns. The piece, by the way, wasn’t even behind a paywall. But I empathized with him, since I had the same initial reaction of laughter at the headline. I was almost tempted to share the article without reading it myself. So I wrote this:

You would think he might change his reaction after this comment, but he didn’t… I guess he still thinks it’s funny.

What made this even more annoying to me, though, were more laughter reactions from people who didn’t even bother to read the comments on the thread. After a few more laughter reactions, I edited the post thusly… and I know it sounds petty and stupid, but I can’t help it. I was genuinely irked.

I know… I know… but dammit, this bugs me.

I remember ranting on my old blog about how much it annoys me when people chime in without reading. Years ago, there was a great site called Television Without Pity, which had snarky commentary about television shows. TWoP also had lively forums with hilarious, witty comments about the featured shows and their recaps. Those boards must have been run by a very anal retentive lot, because there were many rules about posting there and actual consequences for those who broke the rules. One of the cardinal rules was that posters must read the previous comments before posting a new one. I wish I could find the actual rules now, because I liked the way the moderators explained why reading before commenting is so important. Basically they wrote something like this:

“But I don’t want to read fifty comments before making my own very important point!”

“Oh you don’t, huh? You want people to read your thoughts, but you don’t want to give them the same courtesy? Well, fuck you.”

And then there followed a very good explanation as to why the moderators stringently enforced their rule about reading before commenting and why it’s so rude not to take a minute to read. Unfortunately, since the forum was dismantled, I can’t find the TWoP rules spelled out anymore. I’d like to frame them and hang them at the top of my Facebook page.

Since I can’t find Television Without Pity’s rules, here are a few reasons why I think it’s important to read first, and then comment or react.

  • There’s an excellent chance that your point has already been made by an earlier poster and thoroughly discussed by other thread participants.
  • Perhaps you don’t even have a clue what’s being discussed.
  • Maybe you’re about to make a jackass out of yourself by reacting inappropriately.
  • It’s the polite thing to do. It shows people that you’re interested in what someone else has to say and are paying attention to them.
  • It saves other people’s time and energy, since they don’t have to explain that your point has already been covered, is irrelevant, or inappropriate.

Think about this. If you were talking to someone face to face, how would you react if a third person came up and inserted themselves in your conversation without any concept about what you’ve been discussing? Say, for instance, you’re talking about how the weather led to a fatal car accident and someone else came up and started talking about socks. Or they said the same thing that you said five minutes ago. Or they started laughing about the weather, not knowing that someone had died because of it. It would be awkward and rude, right? Well, to me, it’s rude and awkward when this happens on social media. It really bugs me, even though I know I’ll never change it. I know… I know… build a bridge and get over it. Or start deleting the worst offenders.

A couple of days after the raccoon post, I wrote that Peter Frampton is coming to Frankfurt. I wondered if I would enjoy the concert. Several people opined. I like Frampton, but I have one of his more recent live albums and I didn’t care for it, even though I love Frampton Comes Alive! from 1976. At the same time, I know this would probably be my one chance to see him play, because he’s going to be retiring soon. He has a disease that affects his guitar playing. I knew about the disease, because I had read about it some months ago… probably when I bought that album I hadn’t enjoyed very much and wanted to know if something was up with his health. So when a friend was offering her opinion about Frampton, I mentioned that he has health issues and linked to the article about it. Then, the next day, someone else chimed in with this:

It wasn’t even a long thread. It wouldn’t have even taken a minute to skim over it to see that this point was made the day before. I can see not wanting to read 100 comments, but this thread had a fraction of that many responses. A quick glance at the earlier responses would have revealed a link to People.com with a headline about Frampton’s health issues.

On that same Frampton thread, someone left what seemed to be an inappropriate reaction– an angry emoji. I was puzzled, so I wrote this:

Lots of people scroll through their feeds and hit the reaction buttons without really reading first. Sometimes it’s simply someone who accidentally hit the “wrong” reaction, but I think a lot of times, it’s someone who isn’t actually reading but still feels the need to respond somehow. Not everything requires a response… especially if you aren’t paying attention. I’m not just picking on this friend. Many people do this. I’ve probably done it, too.

I pretty much hate the Facebook reaction buttons, anyway. They often end up being misused. I mean, I use them myself a lot, but I don’t think they’re very effective because most people don’t pay attention to what they’re reacting to. A lot of them seem to be in a trance, scrolling through the many conversations and postings, listlessly clicking as they scroll, halfway cognizant about what they’re “reacting” to. I go on Facebook and see that I have a ton of notifications, but they’re all “reactions” from the same person. And half of them don’t indicate any understanding of what was posted… they’re just reactions to be reactions. Like, the person just wants me to know that they saw my post, even if they didn’t actually read or understand it. It’s depressing, because the random “reactions” have a negative effect on effective communication. Personally, I find it disheartening when someone “reacts” inappropriately, making it clear that they didn’t even read. It seems oddly dismissive to me when I post a sad article about something and I get a laughing reaction. Or I post something I think is thought provoking and someone reacts with a sad face. I supposed I could just preface all of my posts with a request that people read and/or think before reacting or commenting, but that would seem hyper-controlling. And I don’t want to be hyper-controlling.

People are busy. I get that. And I tend to cut slack to certain people whom I know may not be as attentive as they otherwise might be. For instance, yesterday I shared a ten year old Facebook memory, because it happened to be the anniversary of the day we brought Zane into our family. I’ve been missing him a lot.

The person sending vibes probably doesn’t know about MacGregor, who was Zane’s “daddy” and best friend. MacGregor died in 2012, and Zane died on August 31st of this year. I know she had good intentions, since we are thinking of getting another dog.

If you think about it, posting before reading because you’re “too busy” to read what’s already been said or explained is likely to waste other people’s time. There’s a good chance you won’t be leaving a high quality comment that adds anything to the discussion and might even irritate the anally retentive types, like me. If you don’t like it when people waste your time, you should alter your behavior accordingly. Do unto others, and all that. If you’re too busy to read, you’re probably too busy to comment.

I read another article about a woman in Wisconsin who walked with a cane and had gone to renew her driver’s license. For some reason, the examiner told her that she needed to prove she could walk across the room without the cane before she could get her license renewed. The woman tried to walk without the cane, fell, and broke her wrist. The headline was this: “DMV made a woman walk without her cane before it would renew her license. She fell and broke her wrist.” I had a feeling that headline would prompt inappropriate comments, so I posted this to head them off:

Actually, I’m relatively pleased by these comments, which were appropriate.

The reason I suggested reading first is because the headline doesn’t reveal that Mary Wobschall, the woman in this story, died a few months later from other causes. I didn’t want to see people posting about her as if she was still living. Her estate is now suing the DMV because they didn’t handle her appropriately or do things by the book. The broken wrist and subsequent surgery could have been avoided, and the examiner wasn’t qualified to make a determination about the Mary Wobschall’s health. Taken from the article:

“According to the suit, if a DMV worker thinks an applicant needs to be seen by a medical professional, he or she is supposed to issue a 60-day temporary license. Wobschall’s suit says his wife was not issued that license and was told she had until the end of the month to renew or lose her license.”

“Making applicants who use canes or other “personal mobility devices” like crutches demonstrate they can walk without the device as a condition of getting a license violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and Wobschall’s constitutional guarantees of due process, according to the suit.”

I know I’ve said it before. I’m losing my patience with social media. It’s probably time I gave up Facebook and Twitter and any other platform that has me interacting with strangers. I’ve even been giving thought to giving up blogging, since I don’t think most people care about what I write, and some people only seem interested in using my writing against me– like the woman who lived in our previous house before we did and was keeping me under surveillance for four years. If she’s reading this, she should know that she’s not as anonymous as she thinks she is and two can play at her game. 😉 But really, I have no desire to stalk other people, and I completely understand that this is a petty grievance that I should probably let go of for my health’s sake. It would probably be a good thing if I went to a “Fuck It” retreat or learned yoga… or maybe got into drinking hot tea.

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Facebook and its moronic “spam” policies…

It’s Friday, which means Mr. Bill is coming home today. He’s been away all week while I’ve been languishing alone. Well, I haven’t been languishing that much… The truth is, this house is pretty comfortable. I even had a nice fire going in the fireplace last night and managed not to burn down the house. I mean, I don’t know how to use the toilet properly and I’m bad with awnings… and I’m a filthy, irresponsible, negligent person. And yet, I enjoyed a very beautiful fire last night, managed to make myself dinner, and am still here to write the tale this morning. Yea for me! I guess I’m finally growing up at age 47. /sarcasm. I’m not dressed yet, though. Nobody’s perfect.

I’ve spent the week reading, working a jigsaw puzzle, taking care of Arran, writing, and making music. The other day, I made a nice recording of a song Alison Krauss recorded with the Cox Family back in 1994. Granted, I’m not Alison Krauss or a member of the Cox Family, but I do alright. Every once in awhile, I share my SingSnap or YouTube stuff on Facebook. Until fairly recently, that was fine. But then Facebook changed its policies again… or its algorithms, or something. At about 10:00pm, I got a message from Facebook that my SingSnap link had been marked as spam and was being made invisible.

Now… when this happens, you can ask Facebook for a review. That means getting a human being to look and decide if what you’ve posted really goes “against community standards”. It can take forever for this… In fact, I have a couple of posts from months ago that are still “in review”. I’ve given up on them and no longer care. I did request that they review the SingSnap post, but I don’t have high hopes about it. Besides, by the time they make the post visible again, it will be off the radar anyway. Edited to add: as of 9:00am this morning, it’s back up on my page. Thanks, Facebook. But I’m still pissed off at you.

It’s not really that big of a deal to me that they hid that particular post. I mainly post the links for the few people who enjoy what I do musically. Most people don’t care about my musical pursuits and will never check out the link, either because they think I’ll suck, or they know I don’t suck and feel jealous. That may seem like a very narcissistic thing to say, but the fact is I really am a pretty good singer. I’ve been told by many people that I am– not just by my mom, who is herself a good musician, but by multiple voice teachers, professional musicians, and even Joan Jett’s manager (met her on a cruise and she wondered if I was in the music biz). Don’t ask me to do math, conjugate Latin verbs, or shoot hoops, but if you need a pretty song, I can deliver. Making music helps prevent me from getting depressed. Not everyone likes what I do, and that certainly includes writing and singing. But what good is making recordings or writing blog posts if I don’t share them with others? People can always choose whether or not they want to read or listen. I don’t hold a gun to anyone, demanding that they pay attention to what I do.

So anyway, I shared this one song out of several I did this week. It was up for over twelve hours before Facebook wiped it out, claiming it was “spam”. I went on SingSnap and discovered I wasn’t the only one whose song got schwacked. One user says it’s because SingSnap needs to upgrade its security protocols or something. Some people have posted that the songs were reposted. Eh… I don’t even really care if mine gets reposted. I’m more annoyed by the arbitrary and inconsistent way Facebook handles its business. They seem to shoot first and ask questions later. You never know what they’ll take aim at, so it’s impossible to be forewarned.

Seriously… I get annoying ads all day long for the same stupid products, like this…

You’ve no doubt seen this yourself… or something like it. Worthless crap that no one needs. I guess they boosted this post, though. Maybe if I boosted my posts, Facebook wouldn’t call them “spam”.

Or I get unwelcome private messages from spammers, sleazy scam artists, or complete strangers who are pissed off about my comments on news sites, like the guy who, last year, called me a “fat murderous cunt” and invited me to “go die”. I wonder if “Jason” felt better inviting me to “go die” as he championed the rights of the unborn… Does he realize that I was once someone’s unborn baby?

Why thank you, Jason, for giving us “fat murderous CUNTS” reasons to cheer for abortion… Too bad your mama didn’t have one.

I reported Jason’s private message to Facebook and got this response:

Wow… that’s helpful.

Facebook could not do anything about Jason’s offensive and completely uninvited and uncalled for private message. But they can arbitrarily hide SingSnap songs without any warning or due process, and accuse the uploaders of “violating community standards”. Are they really telling me that my version of “Walk Over God’s Heaven” is more offensive than some yahoo inviting me to kill myself and calling me a “fat murderous cunt”?

This isn’t the only time I’ve gotten “slapped” by Facebook over something really stupid. I follow a page called Middle Age Riot. The person who runs that page almost always posts funny anti-Trump stuff. That’s why I follow the page. A couple of weeks ago, I shared something s/he posted and hours later, came back to my computer to find my whole screen covered with a message from Facebook telling me I’d shared something that “violated community standards” and asking me to review their policies. Now… first of all, I wasn’t even sure what they’d removed. It took several minutes of recall just to realize that it must have been Middle Age Riot’s post about Trump. Then I wondered which “community standard” I had violated by sharing that post. They didn’t specify.

I mean… people share horrible pictures of slaughtered animals, cruel memes, ghastly injuries, and all manner of offensive and obnoxious commentary. I share a post from a popular humor page, and I’ve “violated community standards”. Seems to me that if they want “offensive” behavior to stop, they need to be clearer about their expectations, develop simple, easy to follow, remember, and enforce rules, and stop fixing things that ain’t broken.

I’ve long thought that Facebook is turning the world into a weird dystopia, where people lose the ability to communicate and need to have a third “minder” moderating their communications. It’s a bit creepy. I’m beginning to think that maybe it might be time to move on from Facebook. It might make my life more peaceful. I would miss some of my friends, including those whom I only know via Facebook. On the other hand, a lot of those people I met before Facebook existed on those old fashioned “messageboards” people used to frequent back in the day. Facebook also provides me with stuff to write about, which keeps me occupied… although it doesn’t necessarily keep me out of “trouble”.

Well… at least Facebook gave me an interesting topic for this morning. Bill should be on his way home in a matter of hours. We will enjoy tonight, then go to Frankfurt tomorrow to celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. Sunday, we’re off to Poland for the week. Bill will be working, and I will be… doing something else… hopefully staying out of trouble and/or pain. Hey, at least we’ll be in a hotel where I can get a massage if my back starts giving me major trouble.

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