Tag: Facebook

And the banned play on

Now and then I hear of someone who has been banned from Facebook for a period of time and I try to imagine what heinous filth they must have been disseminating for such harsh action to be taken.

Were they trying to get the Gestapo back together? Lower the age of consent to seven? Show us the Trump pee-pee tape?

This week I discovered you needn’t do any of these things to get banned. All it takes is a letter to Australian home affairs minister Peter Dutton and for one person to be offended. Am I bitter? Of course not. I deserve to be punished. I don’t know exactly what it is I did wrong, but it’s important that I be disciplined.

We need to be sensitive to the demands of the offended, even if it is only one in 250 others who liked, loved or laughed at the post. The easily upset have so few options open to them. Yes, they could stop reading my column when they start to feel themselves becoming infuriated and go for a beer. But what if they are tied to a chair and someone insists on reading it to them, ignoring their anguished cries while deliberately repeating passages that cause them the most distress, then laughing openly at their pain?

The other option they have – the most popular one, by all accounts – is to keep reading. Turn up the heat and let the outrage build to boiling point. When they can stand no more of it – and there is no more only because they have read all the way to the end – they want retribution and they want it now. Burning my house down is not an option simply because they don’t know where I live. Slumped on the couch, reeking of anger and cheap brandy, they report me to Facebook. I say ‘they’ even though it’s almost certainly just one person who did it. Man, woman or kid who found dad’s drugs? I can’t be sure. Facebook protects the identity of those who snitch on others.

The column had to do with Australia’s offer to fast-track visas for our white farmers before they are all wiped out in the genocide. Amid the deluge of likes, loves and laughter, three of my more emotional male Facebook ‘friends’ voiced their displeasure at the piece.

They came out gums blazing, shooting their mouths off like it was a showdown in the Wild West. Which, I suppose, it was in a way. It was like Ant-Man, the Wasp and Doctor Doom confronting Irony Man, except I’m a real superhero and their only power is to get me banned from Facebook for 24 hours. Curses. You won this time, villains. But I’ll be back.

These good old boys, who chose to follow me on Facebook, accused me of crossing the line. I had no idea there was only one line. And it applies to everyone? I wonder if this ever happened to the divine avatars who attracted disciples. For instance, we know about Judas Escargot, but did Peter, John, Simon the Zealot and the other dudes ever take Jesus for a beer and tell him he’s gone a bit too far.

“Listen, J. That business today with the money-lenders? We think you crossed the line, there.”

“What the hell are you talking about, James the Lesser? What line is this?”

The owner of the tavern might have announced drinks on the house at this point because there was a bit of confusion the following morning and nobody could remember who said what.

“Matthew said something about a line.”

“Who’s Matthew?”

“Guy with the beard.”

“We’ve all got beards.”

“Isn’t his name Levi?”

“Point is, there’s a line.”

“Where do we put it?”

“In the Bible, idiot.”

“Also Facebook,” said Paul the Seer, who wasn’t a disciple but the lads liked having him around because he could predict the results in the Galilee Handicap.

And so the line was handed down from generation to generation. Everyone understood it was a line that nobody should cross. Obviously it no longer applies to money-lenders because the only line they recognise is the red line they draw around suburbs too poor to qualify for home loans.

In my case – when you are reported to Facebook it is registered as a case – the line has to do with humour. You need to stay on one side of it at all times. This makes sense. If you think of humour as a six-lane freeway, you need to stay in your lane or risk causing an accident. This makes no sense at all. An accident on the crowded highway of humour leaves no casualties in its wake. There are no bodies. No injuries. Just someone standing on the side of the road complaining that his feelings have been hurt.

Even though the content is free and I never asked you to be my friend, your hurt feelings apparently trump my right to be on Facebook. Fortunately my offence only warranted the removal of the offensive piece of filth and a 24-hour ban. The dark overlords who rule this electronic megalopolis warned that a subsequent offence would get me banned for three days. And if it happened again, well, they didn’t say. But the threat was implicit. Cyborgs would be given my digital scent. They would hunt me down and chew my fingers off. And if I persisted with voice-activated software, bionic otters would be sent across the ocean to bite off my tongue and suck out my eyeballs while I slept.

The truth is, I’m in an abusive relationship with Facebook and it shouldn’t come as a surprise to be treated shoddily. I don’t know how many others have been banned for writing something that someone didn’t find funny. It could be millions. Maybe it’s just me. Real friends have been quick to condemn Facebook for censoring and banning me. But they’re wrong. Facebook is Mark Zuckerberg and it’s not him who did this to me. It’s an algorithm. Or at best a callow youth called Verminox who is frustrated because he can’t get laid and the NRA keeps rejecting his membership application and won’t give him reasons why.

Facebook won’t give me reasons, either. I was informed that I had violated community standards, which I imagine are closely related to the mythical line. Dear Obergruppenführer Verminox, have you ever heard of audi alterem partem? No, it isn’t a a new car from Germany

I was banned on the grounds of one complaint. That strikes me as a little bit insane. How many Verminoxes must work there that they can ban someone every time a humourless rightwing nutjob files a complaint? Bashar al-Assad must complain endlessly about offensive stuff posted by members of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. Do they get banned for 24 hours? Of course not. That kind of treatment is reserved for savages like me.

On the day I was banned, Facebook sent me this message. “Ben, your friends have liked your posts 74 000 times! We’re glad you’re getting support from your friends and hope this has made the world feel a little closer.”

A more accurate message might have been, “Ben, one of your 5 000 friends who have liked your posts 74 000 times was offended by a post. We’re sad that not all your friends support you and hope you understand why we have to ban you for 24 hours.”

So I had no access to Facebook for a day. After the first hour, my skin started clearing up and my eyes stopped hurting. Six hours in and I could feel my short-term memory returning. By the evening I felt so young and alive that two beautiful women offered to come home with me knowing they wouldn’t have to compete with Facebook for my attention.

Getting punished by a company that covertly distributes personal information, and which quite possibly helped get Donald Trump elected, is a badge of honour. I’d recommend everyone tries it.

Xenophobia? I blame Facebook

The warnings started appearing on Facebook on Tuesday. It might have been Monday. When you do what I do for a living, the only difference between days is the spelling.

One woman posted on her wall, “Stay clear of Point Road today! Xenophobic attacks and looting going on.” Who was she advising? She didn’t look like the type of person with friends who frequented Point Road on a regular basis.

The last time I went to Point Road I got arrested for swearing at a policeman. It’s not safe down there any more. It was fine when it was a pestilential bog of whores and drug dealers, but those glory days are over. Now it’s called Mahatma Gandhi Street and the hookers and junkies must share their turf with protestors and looters. Fair enough. It’s the democratic way.

Facebook, being home to many of our finest political commentators, was awash with intelligent reaction. “WTF?” seemed popular. I don’t even know why eNCA bothers speaking to experts like Angelo Fick for in-depth analysis. He could just sit there shaking his head and saying “WTF?” after every story. Everyone else does.

Someone responded to the posting with a helpful, “Get out of there!” These words were shouted at me once when I was younger and easily startled and it took a week to lure me out of the vegetation with a trail of tiny bottles of airline vodka.

If you’re white and your friends and relatives are advising you to get out, you can be sure they don’t mean your house or even your suburb. They’re talking about your country. How is that even an option for most people? Shouldn’t they be saying, “If you qualify for Australia’s impenetrable points system and have a huge amount of money in the bank and no pets, children, elderly parents or employees who rely on you, get out of there!”

A lot of white people are getting jumpy. First the statues, now the foreigners. Sooner or later, the vandals and Visigoths are going to want to start on real symbols of oppression that actually scream when they are toppled. It’s so much more interactive.

On Tuesday, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko sauntered into the fray. Anyone hoping for Charles Bronson in Death Wish would have been disappointed. He was speaking to journalists in parliament, along with his colleagues from something called the justice, crime prevention and security cluster. Great. There’s nothing like a cluster to get a murderous mob to put down their pangas and listen carefully to what’s being said. Especially if the cluster is made up of well-fed men in expensive suits.

“What you don’t see is Australians being chased on the streets, Britons being chased on the streets, and similar demands being placed on them that they should leave the country,” Nhleko said.

Comrade, please. We’re trying to lie low, here. The cerebrally challenged herd of bloodmongers won’t differentiate between white South Africans, Aussies, Poms or even Lithuanians for that matter. So don’t go putting ideas into their heads. It’s far safer that they have no ideas at all.

Nhleko said the problem was ideological in nature. He’s right, of course, and I cannot understand why the government has not yet formed a Special Ideological Squad that can subdue the rampaging scofflaws by offering them a cappuccino and two free lectures on The Importance of African Unity.

“What we are witnessing,” warbled Nhleko, “are Afrophobic activities and attacks … resembling all elements of self-hate … among Africans and so forth.” Thabo Mbeki said things like, “And so forth.” It’s a career-killer, Nathi. Drop it.

So. Afrophobia. I like it. If we are going to have phobias, let’s at least have ones that even the dull-witted underclass stand a chance of grasping. Nobody should feel left out. That’s what mob rule is all about. Inclusivity. Viva. Pass the petrol bomb on the left hand side. It a gonna burn.

The minister has clearly been to university. At a guess I’d say he studied psychology at some point. People don’t use phrases like “resembling all elements of self-hate” unless they’re really stoned or really educated. Sometimes both.

If the homicidal hoi polloi are suffering from self-hatred, they should try self-harming. I believe it works wonders as an outlet for anger and low self-esteem.

Of course, none of this might have anything to do with xenophobia, Afrophobia, arachnophobia or any other kind of phobia. They might just be doing it out of sheer boredom. If I had to spend all day standing on a street corner waiting for nothing to happen, I might not turn down the opportunity to taunt the cops and burn a tyre or two. Killing, maiming and pillaging aside, protesting looks like it could be a lot of fun. Sadly, I don’t feel I have earned the right to brandish a machete or fling poo. Most days I am so full of white guilt and male shame that I can barely poo at all.

As for that freeloading malcontent Goodwill Zwelithini, the less said the better. He denied having publicly called for immigrants to pack their bags and leave the country at the same time that radio and television stations were broadcasting that bit of his speech where he called for immigrants to pack their bags and leave the country.

“You journalists are causing chaos,” quoth the royal rabble-rouser. That’s right. It’s because of the media that overseas travel agents are quietly covering up their posters of Durban with posters of, I don’t know, pretty much any place that doesn’t offer ethnic cleansing as one of its attractions.

All I can suggest is that the ironically named Goodwill abdicates immediately. I am prepared to take over until a more suitable monarch can be found. I will have no wives, demand nothing but free beer from the taxpayer and instead of the annual Reed Dance I’ll have a monthly Weed Dance.

Long live King Ben.



I have a bream …

I find it best not to move around too much in winter. Body heat and energy need to be conserved at all costs. Expeditions from my desk to the kitchen are fraught with danger. There’s a reason you don’t poke a bear with a stick while he’s hibernating and tell him to get off his hairy arse and find some food for the family.

That’s why I have had a bar fridge installed under my desk. I went foraging earlier in the week and my little metal friend is now stuffed to the gills with beer, cheese and chunks of boiled pig. According to Tim Noakes, this is all I need to live a long and healthy life. I even have a slab of duck fat that I rub on my face to keep the warmth in and the diabetes out. It’s a trick I picked up watching a video of Lewis Pugh swimming to the North Pole.

I also have an ichthyoallyeinotoxic fish that I take out and lick now and again to offset the carbs in the beer. Another beneficial side effect is that it makes me hallucinate. I’m surprised Noakes hasn’t mentioned this in his Banting diet. It’s a species of bream called sarpa salpa, although in KwaZulu-Natal he prefers to be called Karanteen. Down the south coast, where the holidaymakers hang out, he goes by the more informal name ‘Strepie’. However, he can’t speak Afrikaans so don’t waste your time trying to strike up a conversation. Club him, cook him and eat him. Enjoy the trip.

On my desk is a computer, a printer and a fax machine in case someone from the 1980s needs to send me a document. I have an array of remote controls within easy reach. One for the hi-fi, two for the TV and three to alert the armed response company that I am being attacked by a swarm of flying wombats. I have since cut back on the bream.

When I pause between sentences – because every good writer takes a break between sentences – I flick between CNN, Sky, BBC World, eNCA, al-Jazeera and Russian Television. I know everything that happens anywhere, sometimes before it even happens. And when I pause between words, I flick between Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes I pause between letters and check my email.

If I were a child, I would have grown-ups fighting among themselves to get Ritalin down my throat. If I could tear myself away from my computer and the television, I would go to a doctor and get my own Ritalin. No, I wouldn’t. I would never make it. I’d log on to Twitter while I was driving and plough into someone’s house. Into their lounge. Where the TV would be on. The paramedics would find me bleeding and tweeting and when they tried to strap me to the stretcher I would resist and scream, “Fuck off! The Israelis are bombing kids on the beach! Leave me! Save the Palestinians!”

There is too much information coming in and not enough going out. Something’s got to give. But it’s not just information. Facebook, a bottomless reservoir of inconsequential froth and mawkish inanity, is heroin for the easily distracted. Like the collapse of a star – and I don’t mean Lindsay Lohan – it creates a gravitational force that sucks you in. And the deeper you go, the stupider you get. It won’t ever spit you out. You have to climb out by yourself, minus several IQ points, clinging to the ephemeral tendrils of … aww, cute! A Husky wearing sunglasses! What was I saying? Oh, yes. The effort it takes to drag oneself from the suck-hole of Facebook is often … Oh, no! Kirstin has lost her iPhone! It’s midnight and Vuyo can’t sleep! A miniature horse! John is going to Mauritius! A talking cat! Ravi just had an ice cream! Ooh, a test to see what kind of dog I am!