Facebookland, Really?

I’d always imagined a virtual reality internet, but honestly, with Facebook, sorry Meta, (which incidentally sounds like the name of a hard rock magazine,) announcing it will create one, has to bring about an element of slight concern. It’s not just since Zuckerberg has made the billionaire club his liberal stance has warped into the ultimate conservatism, rather judging by the content and actions of users on Facebook, they’re best hidden behind a screen.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Facebook, addicted to the bloody thing, can’t keep my fingers off it. I check it at breakfast, lunch and tea. I check it on the loo; if I liked your status today, I probably didn’t actually read it, rather I accidently clicked it while rescuing my phone from the u-bend. I check it night and day, and when I’m asleep my dreams come over as a newsfeed.

Like many others my initial reaction to the news was jaw-dropping, I was held in awe. The more I think about it, though, I beg you consider, your Facebook feed, in reality……

If an actual place, Facebookland would be, best guess, an irrelevantly violent place, with a lot of obnoxious bigots. Think how many people’s comments you read make you wish you could punch them on the nose, praise be the day you could do it.

As soon as you arrive in Facebookland numpties will be thrusting dishes of food in your face, not offering you any, rather just to show you what they’re eating. “Look at what my wife made!” They’ll bellow, “look at what I got at Nandos;” for crying out loud.

Cats and other pets will be everywhere, doing cute stunts, and people will demand you watch them. The skyline will be filled with billboards of misinformation and propaganda in block capitals and primary school grammatical errors. Every book or newspaper will be in emoji, everyone will be shouting, few people somehow liking, but not really listening, because they’re too busy doing their own shouting.

Opinionated keyboard warriors you can punch, Facebookland would resemble a Tekken tag team tournament more than real life. I’d give Greta Thunberg about thirty seconds in there. Endless chains of people, stopping you to ask if you know what time Lidl is open, can you recommend a carpet fitter, or asking if you know what the handbrake light on their car means. If anything, the internet has lessened idle chitchat between strangers on the street, and you want to head back into a virtual realm where it perpetually occurs? You’ll be late for work every morning.

Late for work because fifty people stopped you on the street to thrust a photograph of a renowned philosopher in your face, only to ramble off some supposed inspirational quote you doubt they even said. Late because you had a dying need to discover your Star Wars bounty hunter name, by melding letters from your postcode with the name of your first pet, and returning home to find someone ransacked your flat and emptied your piggy bank.

No need for a police force, face it, everyone is a cop, everyone is a robber. Power-hungry group admins acting like bouncers at the door of a nightclub, spammers saunter town like chuggers, eavesdropping your every word. Whisper the word trampoline, I double-dare you, and a hundred frenzied trampoline salesmen will mob you.

My last Facebook Messenger request was a message from a total stranger who felt the need to tell me her “vagina was very beautiful.” For reasons of account privacy, I ignored it, I get similar messages racing through my spam filter daily. Another one said, “I’m naked, without my clothes,” which in itself is either presumptuous, assuming I don’t know the definition of the word naked, or they have devised some ingenious method of being clothed and naked simultaneously. Imagine these in real life, it’d be harder to ignore. You’re walking with the wife, and a woman saunters up to you to tell you her vagina was beautiful; where do you look?

Alongside this constant red-light district, life for the beautiful would be an endless building site, where wolf-whistles and chauvinistic taunts ring out perpetually. There’s a cathedral of far-right knuckle-draggers and a flat Earth theorists beach café; are they the kind of Facebook users I really wish to bump into on the street?

Child free too, Facebookland, teenagers all live separately in Instagramville and Tik-Tok Town, twerking and kicking each other’s doors. The entire day spent in the park choregraphing a Kayne West move, where bikini-clad chicks are pranked by a twentysomething so-called magician, else trying to craft a diamond sword in a pixilated universe, while a Superman skin is kicking the butts of innocent bystanders on an urban street.

Guess you’ll find me at the gig, where I don’t need put my beer down to clap at the end of the song, just fire off a handclapping emoji. And every so often, people ignore you, because they’re busy checking their real self in some far-off realm called reality, where everyone lives in a plastic box floating in the ocean; it’ll never catch on, least not until 2030.

And we’ll eat, imaginary humus and iceberg lettuce, drink nettle tea and be merrily, liking each other’s status updates in real time, remembering those sadly passed over to the other side, Twitter Island; we had to let him go, by the end he was talking in hashtags.

And you thought a holographic Abba concert was annoyingly cutting edge.


Devizes Issues or The Ministry of Truth?!

“Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”

1984 by George Orwell

As the jollity of a carefree leaflet campaigning outing, for the new Conservative Wiltshire PCC candidate, Philip Wilkinson, and backed by Danny Kruger, is brazenly and shamelessly shared across the popular Facebook platform Devizes Issues, anyone with a questioning opinion is immediately thrown out the group; including me!

Allow me thus, to throw my toys out of my pram in dismay, the best way I know how! Oh, the calamity, the drama! The only real issue in Devizes, is that even social media is a predisposition.

Yes, I shared the “almost” parallel Orwell quote above, after my comment was deleted, twice, expressing the anger felt by many Wiltshire residents as to why money is ploughed into the candidate’s campaign, while taxpayers could face a £1.4m bill to hold another election, because of the Conservative Party’s impertinence in running a previous candidate who had a criminal record making him unable to stand. I figured it was a genuine and just thought, considering the circumstances.

Hardly a big secret, heck, you all know the story; Conservative candidate Johnathan Seed pulled out of the first election after hit and run, and drink driving offences the party carelessly assumed could be brushed under the carpet, came to light. And rather than the cost effective and democratic process of simply going with the second choice, Lib Dem candidate Liz Webster, it’s been decided a Police Crime Commissioner couldn’t possibly be anything less than a tory, so the whole shebang would have to be rerun.

Meanwhile, Wiltshire Police launch an investigation into the scandal, which is, to-date, still in progress. Yet the election goes ahead on 19th August, when I ask you, them, and everyone of Wiltshire, if you think it right not to wait until the inquiry has concluded prior holding a new election? With such a shocking revelation, how can any of you trust a Conservative candidate ever again, if it was discovered the Party knew of the convictions? And furthermore, what kind of madcap, totalitarianism is this, which dismisses such an assessment as a thoughtcrime?

I personally don’t want anyone who stands for a party which allows criminals to run as a Police Crime Commissioner, there’s an irony there sky-rocketing over some serious heads!

Ever a poor imitation of the original, The Devizes Issue, and named in such a way to narrowly escape trade descriptions if it was a product rather than a Facebook group, Devizes Issues has a 12.9k audience. The Facebook group is perhaps the second most popular general page for Devizes residents, initially set up by local Facebook users disgruntled by the original group’s ruling of no political subject matter, but run under the iron fist of a local Conservative town councillor, I and many others have often criticised its naturally right-wing bias. My argument thus; call a spade a spade, if you intend to have a group for local Conservative thinkers, then call it something which relates to this, but do not disguise it as general local group, for that is deceitful.

Ha, nearly as deceitful as fox-chumping Mr Seed, see a pattern evolving here?

Now I’m advised, if I get the chance to interview Philip, I should take it. In other words, that’s my way out of room 101, and back into what is, primarily, a great and informative Facebook group. Day-to-day it provides an endless stream of informative local matter. Such a shame so many have been pitilessly shoved out of it, including many opposition councillors, MPs and candidates, simply for arguing a contrasting opinion.

The only element incomparable to Orwell is it’s far from the bee-all-and-end all of local social media. There’s more than one way to skin a cat; if you rely on me sharing Devizine articles there, you may well have to change your habits by ensuring you’ve liked our Facebook page, or followed us on Twitter, for the time being. There’s a thing, I think the heat is getting to him, he just needs a big, teddy bear hug!

Because of my local social media diplomatic immunity, I get a response from admin, an honour most traitors to the Tory line are not bestowed. I’m told, “he [the new Conservative Wiltshire PCC candidate, Philip Wilkinson] is a good man and has sympathy that he has had to refinance due to the previous election. Philip should have been the candidate last time and wasn’t, it’s a mistake but it can’t be changed. We have to move on and make sure people get a fair choice.” Yes, Conservative Party; pay the cost of the re-election, then we can move on.

An opportunity I would be honoured to, and welcome, as I have interviewed previous PCC candidates. A process which, I might add, is counter-productive for Devizine, as any one-party candidate I do interview tends to receive angered social media comments condemning my reasoning for allowing a platform to a party they personally don’t like, and any previous interviews I have conducted with other party’s candidates and independents is long forgotten. It must also be noted, the majority come from, coincidently, a conservative ethos, when in all actual fact, Johnathan Seed was the first PCC candidate I interviewed. So, stick that in your pipe!

Because, and please take heed Mr Wilkinson if you are reading this, the assumption seems to be my comment was an attack on you, when it never was about that. The point was if the Conservative Party are at fault, should they not cover the £1.4m bill to hold another election, rather than squander cash on a campaign.

And neither is this article an attack on you, or anyone else. Rather it is a shame, I believe, when political bias has to get in the way of a relationship otherwise built on pacification, by those who feel the need to pettily censor local social media. It’s not the Daily Mail, anyone with a Facebook group of over a thousand “likes” is not Rupert Murdoch; there is no need for political bias, the town is a guaranteed Tory haven anyway! The result turning Seed’s way despite all the well-publicised dishonour and humiliation is proof of this blind voting; if they splodged a blue rosette onto a lobotomised potbelly pig, Wiltshire would still vote it in.  

Unless, no… unless they suspect the tide is turning! We live in hope.

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