Why I Don't Propogate Anti-Terrorism Memes on Social Media

You know the drill.

Terrorists do something sh!tty somewhere in the world and for days or weeks afterwards, social media is cluttered with all manner of memes supporting the victims, and people change their profile pictures to something symbolic of the whole thing.

I don't do it.

These memes are a cop out. It makes people feel better about themselves to jump on the meme wagon and spread the sympathy or the silver lining or the cynical irony of the whole thing. A couple mouse clicks to a clean conscience. "I did my part by putting the colors of the French flag on my profile picture."

Really?

Nobody wants to do the real work of making the world a better place. Just tell everyone else they should do their part by sharing the meme of the day on your Facebook wall, then your job is done and you can get back to sharing cat gifs.

It's akin to when your grandmother dies and all your "friends" on social media post things like, "You are in my prayers."

Notwithstanding the fact that you probably aren't in their prayers at all, if they even actually literally pray (I don't have many friends like that), this is also kind of a cop out. It means, "I am sorry, but please don't ask me to do anything other than post this obtuse reference to a higher being on your wall to make you feel like this horrible tragedy was part of some "plan" God has for you and the universe in general."

When I encounter such personal angst on social media, my first reaction is to wonder why someone would post such a personal and private thing to a bunch of strangers on the Intarwebz, and my second is to write something like, "I am really sorry. Please let me know if there is any way I can help out in this hard time."

I'm a doer. Seldom do people follow up on my request to help them, most likely because they are loose acquaintances who hardly know me, if at all. But the offer to actually stand up and do something is a lot stronger than some prayer bullsh!t. And I stand behind it, should someone actually need me to do something helpful for them that is within my means.

A second reason I don't jump on viral memes is that they are often grossly misinformed. The simplest examples are misquotes of Morgan Freeman or Mark Twain.

One of the best examples though was the Ice Bucket Challenge. Without reading on, ask yourself if you remember what the IBC was actually for. I'll bet you don't remember. But if you do, bravo.

The original idea was that you would donate to a charity supporting ALS research (not MS, as many believe), and if you didn't, you had to pour a bucket of ice over your head as punishment. The whole concept was for you to DONATE TO THE CHARITY, not to dump ice on your dumbassed head. But that meme was quickly hijacked to be an awareness campaign (albeit a good one, if people actually recalled what it was for) as people all over the world broadcast videos saying basically, "I'm a dick who didn't donate, so watch as I pour ice on my head instead."

What?

Islamic terrorism is also a good example of the misinformed meme, although most people don't realize or acknowledge this. In the United States, more deaths are caused by domestic terrorists - right wing Christian extremists - than Muslim terrorists. This is easily verified via the Google. In fact, forget domestic terrorists...you are many times more likely to be killed by an "innocent" toddler with a gun than by an Islamic terrorist. Hell, you are more likely to be killed by a brain eating amoeba than an Islamic terrorist.

The reason people have so much fear and sympathy when it comes to Islamic terrorism is actually because of how rare it is (and a penchant of loving to hate brown skinned people of other non-Christian religions). This is for the same reason people are often terrified of flying in planes, even though the interior of a flying plane is actually statistically THE SAFEST PLACE ON EARTH. When a plane does crash, it is so rare that it catches peoples' attention and the media feeds the myth that planes are unsafe (never reporting the thousands of flights that take off and land without incident every day all over the world). Humans are ridiculously vulnerable to external social cues. This was a good thing during human evolution: If your friends were running from a lion, you were wise to do so as well. But in our relatively safe modern world, this can be an Achilles heel, and you should be aware of it.

I was once on a train in Chicago when a man standing near me fell to the ground unexpectedly. I looked around to see if anyone would react. No one did. I was initially compelled to ignore the situation as well, but as a newbie to the big city, I still relied on my Midwestern compulsion to help people and knelt to the man's side to see what was up. I think he had narcolepsy or was nodding off on a heroin high or something, and he recovered from it quickly enough. In retrospect, I realized the reason no one had done anything is because they, like me, looked around and saw no one else doing anything, and so they assumed they should also not do anything.

This phenomenon has been verified by psychology. In the Asch Conformity Experiments, test subjects were put in a room with a bunch of "actors" and asked to answer simple questions about the relative sizes of lines on a card. All of the actors were told to say that the shorter line on the card was actually longer than the comparison line, though it clearly was not. In a ridiculous number of cases, the lone test subject succumbed to peer pressure and agreed that the shorter line was actually longer. They reported later that they felt compelled to just "go along with the group" (which - punchline alert - is exactly what you are doing when you fall victim to a viral meme). In a different experiment, when just one of the actors was told to correctly answer that the longer line was actually longer, the test subjects, believing they had some peer support for their correct assessment of the line length, would also answer correctly.

Weird.

Mass shootings in the USA (by "lone wolves" whose extremist Christian views are usually downplayed in the media) have become so commonplace that they are given about as much attention as car accidents. There's usually a bit of lip service to how tragic gun violence is and that we need to do something about it, then people hunker down and wait for the next mass shooting. Wash, rinse, repeat.

My point being, when you fuel the anti-Islamic terrorist meme machine with your do-gooder meme sharing on social media, you are actually misinforming people into thinking there is a huge global epidemic of death and destruction caused by Muslim extremists. Most Islamic terrorism is actually directed at other Muslims (ironically) and very little impacts Americans or the USA directly.

I know you are going to keep on meming the sh!t out of sh!t though, and everything I have said here, no matter how true, is completely irrelevant. You are powerless against the social cues on social media. That's the whole point. I just hope I have raised your awareness of it a little bit.

Ciao.

Doomed

I saw a Carson '16 bumper sticker today and I had a revelation.

The United States of America is doomed.

If a functional imbecile can be a front runner for President, there is no hope.

None.

It doesn't matter if Bernie Sanders becomes President.

Someone bought a Carson '16 bumper sticker. Think about that.

The end.

See Bernie Sander's Biography.

Life Force Protections

I am in one of those meetings at work right now that makes me fear for the longevity of my life force. It is soul sucking.

Paris

I don't want to see another "Je suis [insert your French meme here]." It's a load of crap unless you are French. Learn other verbs. "I sympathize with..." "I am saddened by..." "What can I do for...?"

On the bright side, Americans now know what the French flag looks like. Too bad it takes an act of terrorism to advance American social studies.

The Ridic

I am utterly fascinated by the ridiculousness of the Republican presidential race. Has education in America really deteriorated so much that large numbers of people support these buffoons?

How did Ben Carson ever get into medical school, much less graduate? Forged letters of recommendation and ruthless cheating, perhaps? It's the only viable theory I have been able to come up with, and given his penchant for pathological lying and story fabrication, it fits.

Donald Trump, oh dear Lord. He opens his mouth and out comes a firehose of verbal diarrhea. I almost can't watch him...yet I am strangely compelled to the way one cannot avert there eyes from a locomotive train going off a cliff.

I don't know what to make of Carly Fiorina. A part of me wants a girl on girl general election, if Hillary Clinton is the Dem (far from certain). But Fiorina is weak and ineffective, to steal a line from Trump (oh God, did I really just do that?). Plus, I want Bernie Sanders as the Dem.

Whatever. I am going to exercise my Australian dual citizenship if Hillary Clinton or any Republican gets the White House. The ridiculous status quo has gone on too long. America has moved too far to the right, with the commensurate loss of values and infrastructure. Hillary Clinton would have been a moderate Republican 20 years ago (actually she began her political career as a Republican...Google it!) and she's a total corporatist shill.

Rant over. Good luck, America, and may God have mercy on your collective soul.

Some Meager News Analysis

Ben Carson...good heavens! Enough said.

Bernie Sanders did a good job in the most recent "debate" with Rachel Maddow in South Carolina, I thought. He was self deprecating about the public perception that he is grumpy. Praise to moderator Maddow for not bringing up democratic socialism with Sanders as an issue. Martin O'Malley tried to make this an issue during his stage time and it fell flat. O'Malley struck me as a little phony, albeit a smart guy. Hillary Clinton couldn't keep my attention because she didn't really say anything interesting or new. I am voting for Sanders, but he and O'Malley would both be better than any Republican hands down. Clinton is Republican Lite. But that's just me and clearly her popularity suggests the American public is also Republican Lite. If Clinton is the nominee, I would probably prefer the Republican President option, just so we can push America over the cliff more quickly and finally get back to the business of rebuilding a great American society.

I have been staying away from most other topics in the news. Too depressing. ISIS is a shame, but also a problem that can be tied to American meddling in the Middle East. We ought to quit doing that. It gets old.

The news I am interested in is science news, like how NASA is going to start taking applications for Mars Mission pioneer astronauts. That's pretty cool. I'd do it if I didn't love my kickass life here on Earth.

Lots of cool discoveries in astronomy right now, like the possible alien megastructure discovered around that one planet.

That'll do.

Losing the Will to Live


I cannot tell a lie. The current project I am working on at my day job is forcibly ripping my soul from my body.

Green Coffee Bean Extract for Weight Loss?

A few days ago, I discovered a bottle of green coffee bean extract (GCBE) pills in my GF's vitamin supplement drawer. It turns out that was just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, she has three or four more bottles of the putative weight loss supplement (Life Extension brand) squirreled away.

Yes, green coffee bean extract is touted for weight loss, most publicly by the TV quack, Dr. Oz. It's also possibly used as a metabolic energy booster, but I cannot confirm that. My energy boosting herbal supplement of choice is Rhodiola rosea.

I started taking one or two of my GF's GCBE pills per day a few days ago, and interestingly, I did lose weight, dropping as much as three pounds without changing my diet or exercise habits. Last night was date night and I took my GF Deborah to a fancy new restaurant in Madison WI where I had two drinks (a glass of red wine and a craft beer) and ate a phenomenal amount (even for me) of delicious food. Deborah could not finish her cheesy omelette, so I also ate about half of her food (mostly the side of red potatoes) on top of my fried eggs and sauteed veggies over quinoa dish and an appetizer of hummus veggies with pita wedges that we shared.

I fully expected to be a couple pounds heavier this morning just from the sheer volume of matter making its way through my digestive tract. But the Laws of Physics were defied. When I got on the scale this morning, my weight was unchanged. UNCHANGED!

Granted, I didn't lose any weight either. But still, I am beginning to think this green coffee bean extract actually works for weight loss. I still need to do more testing to confirm, but stay tuned.

Rock Bottom

"Here is some money for Bill," Rick said, sliding a $20 bill across the table top to Chet. "But I would give it to him later, since he isn't gonna remember it tonight; he's so goddam drunk."

"Is he?" Chet asked, surprised. "He seemed OK when we were on stage."

"Shitfaced," Rick replied, nodding toward the back of the room. "He's about to puke all over the bar."

Chet turned around and saw Bill leaning over the bar. The bartender, Mick, was holding an empty plastic beer pitcher under Bill's chin. Mick met Chet's gaze with a look of misery that said "fuck my life," and the bar keep shook his head slowly from side to side in resignation.

A moment later, Bill began to dry heave, the preamble to regurgitating the several glasses of red wine he had consumed over the course of the night.

The dark red vomitous mixed with bile and stomach acid resembled blood as it spilled into the plastic pitcher. Appropos for Halloween night, Chet thought.

"Some one should make sure he doesn't drive home," Rick added, before walking back to the stage area to pack up his music gear.

Chet turned to his girlfriend Meg. "How about we get out of here before that becomes our problem?"

"Agreed," Meg said.

Chet gathered up his two guitar cases while Meg grabbed the remnants of their duo Halloween costume and they headed toward the door of the pub where Chet and several other of his musical colleagues had spent most of the night emulating big name rock bands on the pub's stage. Chet bid farewell to several acquaintences as they made their way across the room.

Just before they went outside, Chet glanced back and saw Bill sitting on a bar stool, his head lying on his arm as he slumped, passed out, on the bar.

I hope someone calls him an Uber, Chet thought, and then they stepped out into the brisk autumn night.