Fear and loathing in 140 characters

Moral rectitude doesn't work either, although it definitely sounds like it should
If you’re like me and regularly find yourself trapped in a room full of corporate drones (aka the Wednesday morning meeting), you may also begin to think that “expanding client interfaces to synergise profit vectors” is a perfectly normal discussion instead of the complete bollocks it actually is. This is the insidious nature of groupthink: it slowly erodes your ability to think critically and you end up being pulled along in the current of consensus. Woe betide the individual who dares to swim against the prevailing direction of the stream, for that wretch will be cast into the pit of non-team players!

A similar phenomenon occurs on Twitter. The hive mind has a low tolerance for dissident opinions. These are crushed with a brutal efficiency that would have given Stalin a raging boner. Regular Twitterers may be forgiven for believing that they are changing the world with the latest hashtag, but that’s to be expected from people who are active participants in an enormous virtual incarnation of the human centipede. The harsh reality is that most people don’t really care too deeply about today’s trending topic. Especially if it involves a Kardashian.

This can be illustrated with the following handy infographic* (and who doesn’t like infographics?):Totally not inspired by Attack on Titan

What this tells us that in a room containing a hundred people, one of them will be standing in the corner fulminating against the Bad Thing du jour. Of the 46 who are actually in a position to do something it, only four of them might be interested enough to pay attention. The rest may possibly catch the odd phrase here and there, but the majority will be too busy counting all the fucks they don’t give.

* Source material:
What do SA’s 24.9 mil internet users spend most of their time doing online?
What Twitter in South Africa looks like
IEC voter registration statistics

Vox Dei

It was me.  Definitely.  Yup
Politics in this country is a bit of a farce. Hardly a day goes by without some sector of the seething electorate angrily burning tyres and throwing bits of masonry or excrement to demonstrate their unhappiness with the performance of their elected officials. Fair enough, but the problem arises when the very same unhappy protesters vote the very same underperformers back into office despite their obvious inability to do the job properly. Somehow, the dots remain unconnected. It’s almost as if the entire country goes on a massive tequila bender immediately prior to an election. Sadly, the hangover lasts for five years.

It’s vaguely reminiscent of one of those reality shows where the losers are always utterly shocked to discover that the other competitors are motivated by self-interest. I’d be happier if we dropped all pretence and simply ran the elections like a sadistic weekly talent show. I’m no expert on constitutional law, but I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to fit the existing framework to a media-friendly format.

I envisage a stage full of hopefuls, each having to demonstrate their political prowess to the audience (and viewers at home) via a series of humiliating tasks. Next, they would be strapped to a polygraph and have to face a gauntlet of disdainful journalists. People tuning in could text their vote to the studio, stipulating the voltage setting on the electro-shock machine for each untrue answer given:

“Oh come now Jacob, I think we both know that isn’t true”
“No, no, not the red buttonnnnnnnnaaaaaaaaarrgh!!!!!”

In the final elimination round, the participants would have to bid on the salary they would accept, with the lowest offer securing the portfolio in question.

It may not be democracy in its strictest form, but I firmly believe this is what people would want.


I think we should call the process inductive irony
The crop of imbeciles currently protesting about Chapman’s Peak are doing a bang-up job of shooting the messenger. I’m not saying that their unhappiness is unwarranted, but their vociferous complaints are about as logical as waiting until after a factory has already been built before whining to the shift supervisor that you don’t like widgets.

I’d be interested to know if any of them bothered to research the facts before buying into this farce so wholeheartedly. Of course, since it’s a lot less effort to swallow a catchy sound bite than take the time to wade through a dull pile of documentation, my guess would be “probably not”.

It’s kind of ironic, because one of the contentious issues – i.e. that of environmental degradation – was addressed in excruciating detail in accordance with the requirements of the prevailing Environment Conservation Act (one of South Africa’s proudest monuments to bureaucracy) way back in 2003. The trouble is that nobody noticed at the time. Certainly not the banner-waving “activists” who claim to be so concerned about the mountain.

In essence, to ensure that the habitat of the extremely rare phonus balonus conjobbium was not compromised in any way, numerous rounds of public consultation were undertaken before the authorities allowed construction to commence. As a result, the project was in limbo for years before spade and topsoil had their first meet-‘n’-greet. That’s when people woke up and started bitching. Shortly thereafter, the politicians and other bottom-feeders with agendas emerged and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics got applied with ruthless and depressing efficiency.

I’m not suggesting that people stop being idiots – after all, stupidity does appear to be an essential part of the human experience. I just wish they would ration themselves occasionally.