A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Hooptedoodle #7 - Death by Communication - omg

I've had a Facebook account for a while now, but I only recently started making use of it. I have a friend who insists on using his for just about everything. Some of the things he uses it for surprise me. Some of them, I think he dreamed them up specially to give himself another excuse to use it.

In the month or two that I've been making more use of Facebook, it has been useful on about 3 occasions. To balance that, it irritates me and wastes my time a couple of dozen times each day. That is not a positive balance. OK - I can just close the account, or stop using it. Or maybe I can't - I know it's damned hard to remove a photo - maybe you're not allowed to close an account? - who cares, actually? I have friends who cannot listen to a CD without telling everyone. I have seen enough mobile-phone pics of drunk guys with their tongues hanging out to last me a very long time. Graffitti.

So - yes, I'm a bit hostile, and I'm certainly aware of getting old and grumpy, but I worry a little. I worry about the time and bandwidth that are wasted, the consumer cost and the technology investment that underpins the immense exchange of drivel that passes for useful communication. Facebook exists primarily to make a lot of money for the guy who invented it. Facebook is just another manifestation of something which has already been around and growing for years. Why do we need an infinite number of TV channels when the programme content is almost entirely crud? - who watches this stuff? When you 've paid for your new TV, bear in mind that watching crud in High Definition is hardly a mighty step forward (imho).

How many people do you know who dare not switch their mobile phone off, in case they miss out on something? Perhaps you yourself are in this position? I am fortunate enough to live in a rural area where there is no mobile service. When I am at home, you can ring my mobile all you want - it doesn't work. Sometimes this is a nuisance, but mostly it just means that I have got into the habit of switching the mobile on only when I need to be contactable. That's right - weird, eh?

When I used to commute into Edinburgh on the train, I used to be astounded by the girls from the posh private schools, texting each other - from adjacent seats. I guess their parents were paying for this. I used to pass the time trying to ignore it, trying to be absorbed by my book, but distracted by vague thoughts involving chainsaws. I guess the juvenile texters all grew up to be mainstream Facebook users.

A while ago I heard a man on the radio expressing his theory that the amount of initiative people display is inversely proportional to the speed and ease of communication. It was a lot more interesting than it might sound. The example he used which stuck in my mind was the East India Company, back in the 18th Century. They had their own army, as we know, and they had their own army exactly because it would take maybe 6 months to send a message to London and get a reply. If someone attacked them, there was no point at all trying to ask Head Office what to do about it. Nowadays they would have to convene an electronic conference to decide who they needed to talk to, just to define their Terms of Reference. In the last month, I have been chasing a local (village) committee to get some information to put in the local community journal. Amazing. The whole committee are in endless mobile contact with each other, there is a greater degree of convoluted, tangled misinformation than I would have believed and - since everyone always has to consult everyone else - no-one is empowered to make a decision. I never got my notice for the journal - they missed the deadline. Something wrong here, chaps. If you provide a bunch of weasels each with a Blackberry, you achieve nothing. Weasels could not have managed the East India Company.

So, if anyone was thinking of sending me a message on Facebook to tell me how much you enjoyed your coffee this morning, please don't bother. Unless I hear to the contrary, I'll assume everything is fine.


  1. Tweet -- I'm having coffee and porridge (oatmeal) right now, and both are good!

    Best Regards,



    Couldn't agree more.

  2. Totally and utterly agree with every word, I also live in a (small) rural village, and not only are the 'committee' a form of settler/incomer mafia, I have yet to work out how they get elected or by whom!!

    No democracy in communities where those who run everything drive bloody-great 4x4's to Tesco's eight villages away while all the Post Offices and Village shops get turned into smart cottages for more 4x4 driving incoming future Parish Councilors!!!

    Meanwhile the 'proles' (which I think is intended to include me?!!) are kept happy with 3 versions of 'Simon Cowell Loves Himself' and a mountain of internet drivel matched only by the pile of falsehood, rumor and 'urban-myth' under which broadband is audibly groaning daily!

    [I just had to correct someone who stated a Wikipedia page was probably inaccurate, but quoted (inaccurate dates) from it anyway!!!]

    Gurrr...I'm going to bite the head of a kitten now and send it to someone important....

    NO I'm not!

  3. Easy now - just breathe slowly and deeply - that's it - now - h-o-l-d it - good - now let it out slowly. There now - isn't that better?

    Why not send the kitten's head to Simon Cowell?


  4. See, they've got to you to, you believe Simon Cowell is important!!

    Same Sh*t

  5. Hugh, then you could explain its tragic journey to headless kittenhood....

  6. I have killed my Facebook account... and my Twitter account.... and got rid of the television....

    1. Good man! - sound judgement.

      I still have my TV, but rarely watch it. My Facebook account is moribund. I deliberately have the most basic mobile phone available. My wife says that people (apart from me, naturally) have learned to multitask. I wonder what happened to concentration. I am prepared to bet anyone that when Beethoven wrote his 9th Symphony he was not reading a magazine at the same time. I also prefer to believe that, if I ever require brain surgery, the surgeon will not be discussing where his/her sister gets her nails done during the operation.

      Regards - Tony