Bullshit News Special: Clickbait Digest Vol.1

Sometimes I see some seriously bad “news” on the internet that has me questioning humanity and what we feel the need to read about. I want to rip these excuses for journalism a new one but don’t think I could put together full-fat posts. Here then is Vol.1 of Clickbait Digest, a new (potentially) regular spot on Unfiltered Opinion where I sell my soul to the ad revenue machine, click on attention-seeking stories and review them for the masochistic fun of it all.

“What to do if your boss is an algorithm”

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[Link to original story HERE]

BBC News prides itself on being a respectable, global leader in news and journalism but it can’t help joining in the clickbait party and invariably comes up trumps. Here is a headline that promises some real HAL 9000 shit and shows what appears to be a still taken directly from Terminator 5: Rise of the Cash-Cow Sequel. The video I am taken to also features an intriguing blurb: “Digital sociologist Karen Gregory on how to cope when your boss isn’t actually human“. So it’s a disappointment then to see that the video is just talking about employees working to for computer AI and automated data systems in workplaces. Worse still, the video serves up some bleak predictions of 20% of the UK workforce being displaced by computers and only the privileged and wealthy – with access to higher levels of learning – being able to succeed and move up the ladder in this environment. The video offers no realistic solutions other than vaguely saying that workers need to band together and come up with their own organisational solutions to prevent becoming displaced. Thanks for that. 10/10 for clickbait though.

“Circumcision: I’m scared of my own penis”

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[Link to original story HERE]

This one did at least turn out to be more of a “real” story, concerning the horror stories of male circumcision and the condition known as phimosis. Unlike most of this crap cluttering up the news sites, I did actually learn something here. I just wish a large news broadcaster like the BBC could use a more conventional title for the story other than “I’m scared of my own penis”. It’s unnecessary baiting and almost – almost – makes a joke out of genuine issues. The article begins by recounting somebody’s suicide FFS. Get it together, BBC.

“My son died after fellow pupil threw cheese at him”

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[Link to original video HERE]

If you aren’t familiar with it, we have a daytime TV show here in the UK called “This Morning”. I suppose it’s classed as a “magazine” show. It runs for several hours and features guests talking about real life issues, advice segments, fashion and phone-in competitions to win holidays – all that sort of crap. It’s the kind of ‘informative’ daytime TV that should only real appeal to gossips or the retired. It certainly encourages you to get off your arse and get a job if you’re stuck at home with this tripe all morning. Speaking as a man, the only reason to pay any attention at all is presenter Holly Willoughby but even then, is it worth it if having a perv also means suffering crap like this? Unfortunately, This Morning’s Youtube channel is one of the clickbaitiest things I have ever seen on Youtube’s home page and makes a mockery of truly tragic stories. This story is a case in point: a schoolboy died from anaphylactic shock after a piece of cheese was thrown at him and made contact with the back of his neck.

The tone of interview is understandably sombre but you can’t help but feel that the producers of This Morning only care about twisting a freak tragedy and a mother’s grief into a clickbait headline and carefully selected thumbnail in order to grab the views. This kind of stuff really pisses me off and makes me feel increasingly disgusted with the world we live in. The headline of “MY SON DIED AFTER FELLOW PUPIL THREW CHEESE AT HIM” is also plastered along the bottom of the screen for the OMG factor while the poor woman is relating her story.

I took a look at the suggested videos also from This Morning and it was a series of clickbait titles that seemed to be making light of pretty serious stuff, inviting people in to gawp as if it were a zoo exhibition.

“Our daughter died after eating a Pret a Manger aguette”

“Teacher who was viciously assaulted breaks down”

“Strangers think my girlfriend in my nurse”

“My husband cheated on me with our daughter’s friend”

“I married a homeless man living under a bush”

It’s the kind of sensationalist stuff that makes you want to run the fuck AWAY from our society and go live in a shed atop a mountain. The blend of “dramatic” I-can’t-believe-that-would-ever-happen stories sharing space with genuinely horrible recountings of abuse and death is just very bad in my opinion. And these segments on the show will be immediately followed-up with a competition to win a car!

And that’s about all I can deal with for Vol.1 of Clickbait Digest. Join me next time for more of the internet’s sewage. Maybe.

 

“Would you take £20 for it, mate?” (an ebay rant)

Ebay: I love it. Most of the things I buy come from Ebay because why bother travelling to and hunting around in physical stores when I can just hit up the world’s top auction site, type in what I’m after and smash that “Buy It Now” button to acquire it? Usually at a cheaper price than a real store can offer the same item too. Now don’t get me wrong: the death of physical retailers isn’t something I’m happy about but at the same time, my money and my time are valuable assets so why should I expend a greater amount of either just to keep a brick ‘n mortar store in business? Businesses need to appeal to ME and woo ME in order to get ME to open my wallet.

I’d make an exception for friendly indie stores because those places can be more than just shops. They can be inviting places with great atmospheres and knowlegable people. And I can’t deny that I enjoy rooting through shelves/bins for hidden gems or things that I have been after for ages. It’s the retail version of treasure hunting. But as for large, national or global chains? Fuck them. As somebody who works in retail myself, I have the inside line on how crappy these organisations are to work for and how they can only offer great deals at the expense of spending on adequate staffing, security, resources and premises maintenance.

But I’m getting off-track here aren’t I? Additionally, why am I talking about buying stuff and shopping experiences when I have already spoken about giving materialism the heave-ho?

Well, I’m actually talking about selling on Ebay as opposed to buying. I had to talk about the positive side of Ebay to begin with y’see because where there is a Yin there is most certainly a Yang. As an Ebay seller, you definitely feel a lot more of the Yang. Selling on Ebay is fantastic because for all its faults and vocal detractors, Ebay retains the largest audience for your unwanted shit and provides the best chance of getting money for it. I have made thousands of pounds which has (hopefully!) offset a lot of what I have spent on Ebay during my membership to the site.

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Old Ebay logo FTW [source]
But there are many, many drawbacks to the selling experience. I’m only going to focus on the one today though because otherwise, I would still be typing this post tomorrow morning, bleary-eyed, dry of throat and sleep deprived. What I want to briefly rant about today are stupid, ignorant buyers, specifically the messages they send.

Ebay is definitely more about the quick and easy fixed-price “Buy It Now” listings these days and has lost a lot of the carboot/auction house novelty that it once had. Sometimes though, it’s difficult to guage the current market value on your stuff when recent sold examples have finished with wild variations in the price(s) paid. It’s at times like this that I simply go the classic auction route and let the buyers decide how much something is worth. There are other reasons to choose the auction format over Buy It Now of course but the main advantage – as I see it – is to seek that current market value. After all, anybody can list anything for whatever wild price they pluck out of thin air and if said item happens to be rare or uncommon then others will follow suit and use that price as the basis for their own. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that the buyers are prepared to pay those prices and so the auction format can help you scythe through the BS and cut to the reality.

At the end of my auction descriptions, I always sign off with the following message to perusers of my item(s)

“Please do not send me messages about ending auctions early or for private Buy It Now prices. I respect the auction format and do not reply to these messages”

As you can tell, I subscribe to the “Do unto others as you would have done unto you” philosophy. I’ve had my bids cancelled in suspicious circumstances before and I was furious, especially when I had good reason to believe that somebody else had messaged the seller with an offer and persuaded them to end the auction early so that they may buy the item. I wouldn’t want this to happen to me and so I certainly wouldn’t inflict it on others who are placing bids on my auctions. Also, the vast majority of these people who message sellers and get their dirty way are traders themselves, looking to take advantage of sellers who don’t know the value of what they have up for auction. The seller thinks that they are getting a good deal but the dodgy buyer knows better. He knows that he can sell the item on for double what he paid. Then there are the simple low-ballers who want everything for nothing. It’s why I no longer allow the “Best Offer” facility on my listings as it only ever attracted insulting offers from potential buyers who think that slashing 60% or more from the original asking price is fair.

I listed a load of videogames yesterday as part of my ongoing purge of material possessions and – as usual – included my little blurb about not contaminating my inbox with unwanted offers. Most of my items have multiple bids on them already with buyers playing by the rules and attempting to win them legitimately. Furthermore, I have been involved in the videogame scene for years now and so in addition to my ability to check completed listings and get a lay of the digital land, I pretty much know what is and what isn’t worth money. I’m not going to be hoodwinked by low-balling re-sellers is what I’m saying.

So imagine my dismay when I see that I have messages today. One was from somebody who wanted to know if I would accept £20 for four games. The other was from a different prospector seeking a combined price on two specific games I was selling.

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[source]
Can you morons not read? You haven’t even addressed by special blurb in your messages. You want me to just cancel everybody else’s bids, end the item(s) using a false reason (item damaged, no longer available etc.) and sell to you in private without the seller protection offered by Ebay and Paypal? Jog on, mate. Play the auction game fair and square and put up the money you are prepared to spend on the items. If they sell for more than you are willing to pay then tough, that’s capitalism baby. Don’t try these back-door shenanigans and expect me to flip the middle finger to every other honest bidder. Somebody needs to play the game fairly and buddy, that’s me.

Additionally, they have simply ignored my request for people to NOT send me these sorts of messages and that’s just fucking rude. I think this ignorance may in fact get my back up more than would-be buyers wanting me to screw the rules.

Just go away.

Youtube Comments: An Embarassment to Humanity

Many things frequently convince me to part with my faith in mankind and the future of our race. The fact that we use centuries of accumulated intelligence and technology not for our benefit but to continue killing one another for the benefit of spiritual mystical beings for example. The periodic threats of nuclear war that threaten millions all because bullish world leaders insist on winning the latest edition of “How large is your penis?”. Or even the idea that maintaining the right to purchase military-grade firearms is of greater importance than innocent children being filled with bullets and thus denied a future, all because they did something as outrageous as show up for school.

All of these things (and countless others also qualifying as entire discussion points in their own right) rarely fail to make me think “we’re so fucked as a race, aren’t we?”. They all pale in comparison to the comments sections on Youtube videos however.

Seriously, I have come to the conclusion that if you wish to see the most hate-filled, racist, cold, emotionless, easily-triggered, tasteless keyboard warriors that the internet has to offer then this is the place to go. You can probably point me in the direction of some less mainstream, off-grid web hangouts where entities (let’s not grace them with the term ‘People’) of an even fouler nature lurk but there are two reasons that make Youtube’s warzone comments so notable as I see it:

  1. This is one of the most mainstream, easily visible and accessible internet destinations out there. The hate and bile is right there for all to see and while videos may be flagged as 18+, the comments certainly aren’t.
  2. Facebook, Twitter and other high-profile social networking services come under repeated media fire for breeding peer pressure, hate speech, extreme bullying and depression yet Youtube seems to escape the spotlight despite being just as influential and integral to its users’ lives.

It seems that any video in any genre simply cannot exist without a simple disagreement of opinion becoming an issue of the commenters’ racial identity or right to life. I have seen people told to “fuck off and die” for having a different taste of music for example and I’d consider that mild by the standards of Youtube’s trolls. Don’t forget that these entities have standards so low that you’d have to drill down deeper than the deepest layer of the sewage network to even stand a chance of finding them. When you did find these so-called standards, you’d likely feel cleaner by returning to the sewers and taking a swim in that glorious cocktail of piss, shit and used tampons.

I have screen-grabbed an example of such bizarre behaviour to dissect and this (like my “fuck off and die” recollection) is still extremely tame. This is taken from a video of Rocky II‘s training montage. I’ve edited out the names and profile pictures of those involved even though I’m unsure that some of them deserve their anonymity but what can I say; I have a bit of class I suppose.

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As you can see, it starts off fairly nondescript with somebody being a smartarse and disputing the original comment because they decided to take it as literally as possible and combine the worlds of real-life sports trainers and their fictional movie counterparts. Then the opinion is put forward that Duke (Apollo’s trainer) was in fact superior to Mickey – a fair enough opinion (even if it is presented as a fact). Then, enter the Pedant archtype who isn’t happy that people casually discussing a movie have committed the cardinal sin of confusing managers with trainers.

So far, so good, right? But then…

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I’d ask if this was really that necessary or how we made it from the manager/trainer discussion to suicide but I can’t seem to find a suitable collection of words so I’ll let this classic meme do the talking while I gather myself.

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[image: imgflip.com]
And so it continued…

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I would attempt to commentate on this conclusion to the discussion but I don’t think I need to. For the purposes of re-capping however: a Rocky II clip inspired a conflict of opinions on trainers and managers. Said conflict then evolved into a not-so-subtle suggestion that one of the involved parties should go and hang themselves (as you do for confusing trainers with managers, real life trainers with Rocky trainers or for being a Duke fan). Finally, a good ol’ race-fuelled argument.

As I said, this is a very tame example. So tame in fact that it barely registers. Many other furious debates succeed in racking up hundreds of replies and utterly vile on-screen words that sometimes defy belief. Some may argue that I should “grow up” or just accept that this is life in 2019 but I refuse to accept that. The fact is, you don’t hear people speak this way in the real world. They are keyboard warrior trolls on a power-trip, safe behind their monitors or smartphone displays. Let’s see them stand face-to-face with a grown man in the street and tell them to go hang themselves for holding the opinion that Megadeth is better than Iron Maiden. Most of us swear and rib our mates about their opinions but it’s done with humour and an understanding of the boundaries. We know who we can share black humour or crude jokes with for example.

In Youtube Land however, there is very real malice from a sizeable number of users who appear to think nothing of making a simple disagreement personal and bringing somebody else’s ethnicity into it for no reason at all. They see no problem with telling another commenter that they used their sister as a “cum dumpster” the night before last when in reality, they are probably a basement-dwelling professional troll with no real life interior knowledge of a woman’s underpants.

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It’s over-compensation and feeling powerful by putting others down magnified ten-fold (at a minimum). Trolls and keyboard warriors on Youtube (and most other social networks for that matter) come in two varieties: the first species is neaderthal in nature and not yet in possession of an imagination. Hard-hitting, punchy insults and childlike tantrums punctuated by words such as “fuck” and “cunt” are their only form of response to anybody who dares challenge their hard-man act. Ironically, it’s these types – who seem the most ghastly and repulsive at first – who probably have the most hope of transitioning to a regular human being. A slim hope mind, slimmer than the gap that the Millenium Falcon squeezes out of after attacking the Death Star II’s core in Return of the Jedi. It’s the second species of troll that you have to be more wary of.

Passive-aggressive prose and carefully constructed replies designed to poke and prod at another is their style. Rather than going in fists-swinging with their digital mouth vomiting out swears, these social rejects get their thrills by laying the bait and toying with the fish they manage to hook. Accomplished grammar, a calm persona and the ability to respond to anything are other hallmarks to look out for. These are the sorts of trolls who refuse to let their opponent claim the last say and achieve a trouser tent by retrieving facts and figures to discredit another viewpoint or working out how to push another’s buttons. You can imagine them sitting back with a wide, toad-like grin as they watch somebody else unravel and if all else fails, they have no qualms about signing off with an ice-cold, passionless put-down.

Read too much of this crap and you begin to wonder if these people have a life outside of the internet or how awful their own existence must be if they need to throw their self-respect beneath a dumpster and communicate with others in a such a revolting manner. More to the point of this topic’s title, it’s embarassing that this is a representation of us, the human race. What happened to agreeing to disagree and accepting that not everybody holds the same opinions as us? Somewhere along the line, it became essential to always be right (a mathematical impossibility in itself) and fling insults around like uncivilised apes slinging turds. Somebody disagree with your outlook? No problem; just tell them to jump off a bridge (while promising that you will be banging their mother as they plummet to their doom).

But then again, I’ve just written a big blog post about morons and wasted some of my life analysing their motives so what the fuck do I know.

Christmas song promotes rape

It’s been a few days since I posted anything here on this fledgling blog but life has happened and work has been extra tiring. The diarrhoea-like river of excrement that is the news continues to flow in the meantime however and the number of “stories” (let’s not give them too much credibility) that I’d like to analyse has began to back up like a blocked toilet clogged with an ever-increasing volume of the nasty brown stuff.

Unsavoury metaphors aside, one of the more dumb stories that cropped up on my radar was that of an American radio station electing to pull the Christmas song “Baby it’s Cold Outside” from their playlist due to an apparent unsuitability in today’s hyper-sensitive #metoo landscape. Other Christmas songs that were written/performed in the past have now been put under the microscope and over-analysed by those who are determined to play dot-to-dot and create those tenuous links and daft interpretations from songs that are products of their time.

I do want to quickly point out that this is another of those stories that the media love to publish in order to wind up a certain demographic and get them to keep clicking away or buying newspapers. I know this and I suppose that giving this shit even more exposure by talking about it is a bit hypocritical but I feel like looking at the facts and quotes from these headlines and applying some proper logic to them.

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Let’s start with the Christmas song that has stirred up the keyboard warriors and Twitter superstars the most shall we? For decades, there was nothing and suddenly “Baby, it’s Cold Outside” is one of the great evils of the music world; a song that apparently tells the story of a man pressuring a woman into sex. As quoted from the BBC’s website:

In particular, the line “Say what’s in this drink?/No cabs to be had out there” has led people to make a link with date rape.

So this is also (apparently) a song about date rape and drugged alcoholic drinks. The problem with this above quote is that phrase “led people to make a link”. We can make links between anything and everything if we wanted to. This is a simple case of people taking a product of the past out of its time and complaining that it doesn’t conform to modern expectations which – honestly – can be done with anything at all from history. What next? Does “Driving Home for Christmas” suggest an irresponsible decision to drive in dangerous, wintry conditions? Does any Christmas song to do with Santa condone lying to your children? Loose comparisons I know but seriously.

How about this: listen to a classic Christmas song and just take it for what it is. When did every single thing need to be looked at it minute detail and constantly reviewed every few years to see if it remains “acceptable”? Any such analysis that includes phrases such as “seems to suggest…” or “could be interpreted as…” is automatically bullshit of the highest order in my book. Far-fetched conclusions being conjured up in the minds of those who simply MUST find something to be offended about. Unless of course I’m talking out of my ass and hearing a song like Baby, it’s Cold Outside IS slowly warping my brain and installing a subconscious instruction to lure females in from the cold so that I can rape them. See how stupid it sounds? I believe that there are three reasons why a story like this even becomes a (undeserving) ‘thing’ in the first place:

  1. The fear of offending people. Weak, easily bowed people decide that it is safer to remove material deemed potentially offensive before anybody can make some crazy links and bring negative press down on the organisation.
  2. Virtue signalling. Loudly and proudly condemning something that COULD be deemed offensive in the minds of a small minority in order to become the white knight and latest champion of the #metoo or similar movements.
  3. The social media echo chamber. A few people think that they are hot shit for ‘discovering’ something they believe could possibly be offensive or disempowering. Others re-tweet and show their support (from the safe anonymity of their keyboard/smartphone screen) subsconsciously feeling that they are being fashionable by doing so.

I am always open to be proven wrong or have my view changed by solid facts. Not interpretations, not theories and not suggestions. Just concrete facts, figures and evidence. That said, I feel extremely confident when I say that I do not, for a second, believe that when Frank Loesser wrote the song in 1944, there was the intention to promote rape. There is nothing to say that the male in the song intends to force himself on the female if she continues to refuse his advances. There is nothing wrong with suggestion or displaying amorous feelings to somebody of the opposite sex in a private situation if the other party seems like they could be up for it. That’s how we actually get somewhere in our love/sex lives. Of course, should Person B firmly refuse then Person A must repect their decision.

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If this song is guilty of anything then maybe – at a push – it is a guy ignoring a girl’s soft rejections and continuing to try his luck, edging closer and closer to that grey area where natural, lusty advances become coercion and potentially rape. But I don’t hear that. I hear a playful, slightly sexy song that is probably just being a bit naughty. You aren’t supposed to rip it apart and publish an enormous thesis on how it condones this and that. Perhaps the critics ought to take a look a little closer to home because modern lyrics have been glorifying far worse in a much bolder manner for some time now. If anything is going to be a threat to an easily impressionable younger generation then it might be the stuff that they – y’know – actually listen to?

I was shocked to read (when doing a quick bit of research) that this song has been the subject of much debate and criticism for more than a decade. Conveniently in the month(s) of December of course because it’s such an issue that nobody cares once it’s no longer Christmas and the song doesn’t have to be aired anyway. My point being that there have been many, many other analysis’ and discussions about Baby, it’s Cold Outside and the perceived implications of its lyrics written with greater finesse than mine. These are just my rough and raw thoughts on the subject. I listen to the song and don’t hear what some people are condemning. Maybe that makes me a lesser person for not trying to hear beyond the surface but guess what? I don’t really give a fuck.

Another song that was criticised (amongst several) was Band Aid’s “Do They Know it’s Christmas?” for apparently enforcing an image that Africa is a needy continent reliant on the handouts of more developed Western states in order to survive. Bob Geldof’s answer to the critics was “It’s a pop song, not a doctoral thesis”. Well said, Bob. We are constantly made to feel guilty by charity ad campaigns and asked to donate money to causes in third-world countries where people are legitimately dying from poor sanitation and the wars of others but it seems that doing the decent thing and helping is also allegedly demeaning. Putting aside the fact that terrible sanitation, terrorism and constant uncivilised warring ARE factual blights on many innocent Africans, this bizarre logic of being incorrect whatever we do/think can fuck right off. Another prime example of desperately looking for offence where there isn’t any and keyboard warriors eager to seek out a vaporous injustice.

In summary: stop fucking reading too much into songs and presuming that your personal interpretations are the correct interpretations of everybody because they aren’t.

Let’s NOT stay connected

Last week, a cataclysmic disaster of earth-shaking proportions struck the UK, resulting in mass panic and untold trauma for the citizens of this fair isle. No, I’m not talking about a natural disaster or a Godzilla attack but the partial service outage for customers of o2, one of our main mobile network providers. Some people struggled with basic calls and the ability to send messages but it was the data outage that triggered outrage and despair. Essentially, a worrying number of people were simply lost without access to the internet on their mobile phone…for what turned out to be a little over one day.

The only people I genuinely felt bad for were emergency services or care homes who relied on o2 in some way and had their communications severely disrupted. Everybody else though? Deal with it. I’ll admit that businesses losing trade was a bad thing (especially for the smaller businesses that perhaps can’t afford to take the hit) but in general, it was those who have decided to completely bin off landlines and go mobile-only that suffered the most. Becoming overly-reliant on mobile networks and technology in general occasionally proves to be a very bad thing. Technology that we ourselves have no control over has woven itself into much of our lives to the extent that we don’t even realise how reliant we have become on it and this – for me – is a massive mistake but that’s a separate discussion for another time.

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Of course, the stories of “tragedy” were all over the news with accompanying interviews of those we were supposed to feel bad for. It’s hard to take the BBC’s online news seriously however when they actually gave airtime to somebody who’s disruption amounted to missing out on placing ebay bids for a Christmas gift because he had no internet. Is this news? Is it even a real problem? My first thought was “why didn’t you just place a maximum bid on the item(s) beforehand?”. Then I wondered if this person was wanting to be online so that he could just keep bidding on something until he won, in which case I would say they had too much money and should have simply purchased said item from elsewhere without pissing about with bidding. Finally, I wondered why I was wasting any of my thoughtwaves even thinking about this pathetic excuse for a “problem”.

It’s ridiculous that a data outage and an inability to connect to the internet and the dreaded social media can reduce people to such frustration so quickly. You don’t HAVE to be constantly connected to the ‘net all the time, refreshing Facebook or flicking between favourite sites while on the move. How about having an actual conversation with a real person? How about looking out of the window on a bus rather than plonking your arse on a seat and instinctively whipping out your fancy iphone 986XR-S Pro Elite Widescreen handset and ignorant noise-cancelling Bose headphones? There’s lots happening all around us and so much detail to take in so look around once in a while and really LOOK at life and your world before it passes you by.

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I personally cannot stand people who can’t exist without fiddling with their phone every few seconds or sit at a table in a restaurant without having it next to their plate, easily accessible to check their notifications. Since when did other people’s “look at me!” ego chasing Facebook statuses and inane Twitter ramblings become so important to us that we’d allow them to disrupt or sit in on other activities?

The thing I detest the most is being contactable at all times. I work as a delivery driver and my phone seems to constantly be buzzing in my pocket with incoming calls from people back at base wanting to ask me questions or add to my workload. I’ll be driving between destinations and thinking that things are going pretty well around the mid-morning mark but then the calls begin and I have people informing me of problems that need sorting (usually other people’s fuck-ups), asking me how to do stuff or telling me about shit that isn’t even on that day’s schedule. This is the curse of being expected to be accessible by phone all day. Sometimes it gets to the point where I feel like dropping the window and launching my phone out into the next ditch. If only they didn’t cost so much to buy.

And you can’t answer a phone while you are driving. I don’t know about other parts of the world but here in the UK, it’s illegal and rightly so after the rise in car accidents and deaths associated with drivers being distracted by their phone call(s). Even so, you still see countless fuckwits speeding while on the phone or looking down at their notifications as soon as they come to a halt at a red light…just what is so fucking important? If these people were to crash and hurt/kill themselves as a result of their own stupidity and lack of prioritisation then I honestly wouldn’t give much of a shit but it’s the innocent victims in other vehicles or on the pavement that tend to pay the price.

So I refrain from answering or even looking at who is calling. I COULD keep pulling over and killing the engine to answer incoming calls but a) there isn’t always a suitable place and b) answering all of these calls just slows me down from doing the job that people are – ironically – calling me about. The inevitable result is a screen clogged with voicemails and missed call notifications or text messages that say “call me back asap”. To say it deflates me would be an understatement.

Then there are those people. “Those” are the people who keep persistently calling until you answer and when you DO answer, it’s usually something non-important that could have been relayed via a text message or voicemail. I even have some people who keep calling and leave literally a single second between every attempt. Just fuck off already! Don’t get me started on the people who know that you are most likely to be on the road but then whinge about you not answering the phone later on.

And yes, I am fully aware of the irony of complaining about staying connected or social media addiction on a blog which is a form of social media in itself. By my own admission, I am often an introverted sort of guy so I have to hold my hands up and say that there may also be a streak of bias running through this post but even so, I find it quite worrying and – in the case of people’s anguish at last week’s data outage – ridiculous how mobile phones and 24/7 internet access have become so integral to so many people’s lives. Just put it down and disconnect every once in while – it really won’t hurt.