Month: March 2015

Click on this article and you won’t believe what happens next!

Welcome anonymous reader. We are, as yet, unacquainted and likely to remain so, and yet I guarantee you’ll get to the end of this article (if you make it to the bitter end that is; maybe a cup of tea is looking like much the better option) feeling somewhat short-changed.  ‘Wait a minute,’ that wishful thinking, inner voice will say, ‘wasn’t something mind-blowing supposed to happen, just at the very second that I and her 10 other loyal readers (this may be an overestimation) bothered to click on another one of these weird articles she likes to inflict upon the already full to capacity chatter of the internet ether. To be honest, from previous experience, I wasn’t expecting much.  I mean I didn’t think that opening this link would trigger World War 3, or that I’d suddenly get x-ray vision – did I?’

The internet goes in for exaggeration, hyperbole and excess, resulting in misrepresentation, fantasy and hogwash. We didn’t used to think that watching somebody simply baking a cake would leave us open mouthed in awe, did we?  (I’m deliberately ignoring the awe laden Bake Off  here.)  Or that one of the hitherto unknown properties of Selotape is it’s capacity to change your life, in the same way your life changed when that fanciable member of the opposite sex finally said yes.  Or that three scantily clad young women miminin a car would generate millions in advertising revenue – maybe that one’s a given.

I’m talking clickbait – the online equivalent of the angler’s best friend. Tie a non-descript video, or decidedly non-pithy article to your website line, using the most colourful and outlandish title you can think of, cast it out into the depths of the internet ocean and sit back while you wait for the users to bite. There’s nothing new about headline grabbers of course, only in the past these freak show tactics were used in newspapers, leaflets and circulars, which were frequently chucked into the nearest bin. But the internet is permanent, in its flashy impermanence, and those clickbait headlines and clickable videos are always there, floating about on your facebook and generating alarming statistics on Buzzfeed; that most refined and muted of the current Mega Web Stars.

It used to be that dumbing down was a slow process. But now it’s as fast as those super fast information highways. Apparently, and I have this from a reliable source, no young person of roughly the ages 18-30 has the concentration levels to get past the first paragraph of anything remotely passing as literature (I’m sure you’ll beg to differ), unless there are accompanying videos; or you’re on your favourite online gaming message board.  The internet giants know this and so most website content has a kind of children’s book mentality.  Your average 21st century reader clearly can’t cope with the unadulterated written word. Years of trigger-happy-finger syndrome mean you can’t spend too long reading that long-winded article when there are a million others just a click away, and maybe ones where you can find out the unbelievably magical properties of chocolate, including mouth watering pictures too (ok, that’s probably a good one.)

Thing is I’m rapidly falling for it.  As soon as something, anything is committed to film or typed upon that flickering monitor, then it takes on the importance and significance usually reserved for something involving David Attenborough.  And so here I sit, watching disembodied hands offer up an awe inspiring baking experience.  I don’t go in for much home grown baking, so why on earth am I spending 5 minutes watching somebody simply bake a cake – and a not particularly attractive cake at that, unless you enjoy consuming psychedelic food colouring on an industrial scale.  I was promised AWE that’s why, and when I’m not prostate on the ground offering prayers up to the Baking God in the sky, I’m feeling pretty stupid that I just lined some unseen advertiser’s pocket.

The clickbait stuff works though and the reason it works is that the internet is a full blown addiction. We literally spend hours on the internet, often times hovering over the keyboard thinking right I’ve been there where can I go next.  And all the time we’re reading – but not in a book way.  A book is a commitment. You start on page 1 and usually wind up at the end with no distractions. Cyberspace reading is a wholly different thing. Those articles you sought out are awash in a sea of clickbait.  What if you’re missing something?  Maybe it would be really useful to know why you should always carry a jar of stilton in your bag, or how you can recognise your soulmate from the contents of their kitchen drawer, or the 50 reasons why you need a nose.  And one of those things could possibly go viral – do you want to be the only sap out of the loop?

I’m frequently out of the loop, always discovering online gold way after the gold rush started.  And I recently got introduced to the word ‘clickbait’ and wondered what on earth is a clickbait; well now I know.

So, apologies to those who already have a full and comprehensive understanding of clickbait and didn’t need me to point out its insidious charm as a time waster.  But isn’t clickbait just another analogy for this thing we call life?  Whatever we do doesn’t quite meet our expectation does it?  That dream job, dream date, dream dress;  that solar eclipse completely hidden behind a  blanket of cloud?  Maybe we should click less and accept that life is mostly a humdrum, decidedly non-awe inspiring experience.  So I plan to boycott the dangling clickbaits in my pathetically small facebook feed because, most of the time, what happens next is about as riveting as any page you care to land on in something written by Jane Austen (and she was hanging around in the 18th century when the biggest source of entertainment on offer was a pack of cards.)

Meanwhile………….

 

 

are you swimming in a pool of your own tears?

 

 

 

 

The Intern Interview circa 10,000 BC

Hello

Good evening Ugg the Younger.

H**  T***  ******* M*

I’m sorry Ugg the Younger, you’re breaking up, could you try pointing your conch shell at the Sun God in the sky.

Is that better, can you hear me now?

Loud and clear.

I just got this new shell, still working out how to use it.

Ok, let’s crack on then shall we?  Do you mind if I call you Ugg, we like to drop the formalities here at Microrock.

No, that’s fine by me.

I’ll just introduce myself. My name is Urrrg the Officious and I’m the Head of Microrock’s Homo-erectus Recruitment team, or HR as we like to call it.  As you know, this conch shell interview is the first step in a protracted interview process, designed to cause as much unnecessary stress and overall loss of confidence as possible. We do hope you understand that this lengthy selection procedure is necessary due to the volume of applications we receive for our highly prized placements. Population is at an all time high, approaching 250 Neanderthals in this region alone, so you’ll appreciate that getting a foot in at the cave door is becoming practically impossible. I’ll be asking you a few questions, just to get a feel for who you are and what you can offer us here at Microrock. Firstly, could you tell me a little about your course.

Yes certainly, I’m studying Moon Watching.

Interesting, could you elaborate?

Well, the tribe noticed a while back that the Moon doesn’t always appear in the night sky or that sometimes it looks very small indeed. This caused a widespread moaning and groaning and general pulling out of hair; the considered opinion of the tribal elder being that if the Moon ever goes out, then basically we’re stuffed. How are you going to safely take a leak at midnight for instance, without getting eaten by something with massive teeth and massive claws?  The elder said we needed a Moon Watcher so I signed up.

Could you tell me a bit more about why you chose to study the Moon and what the course entails.

The big attraction for me was that I get to sleep all day, which is great ‘cos I don’t have to join the daily saber-toothed tiger hunt; possibly getting a few important limbs bitten off. My job is to raise the alarm if the Moon ever goes out; the consensus being that if this calamity ever occurs then we vote to either do a Moon dance, to bring the Moon back, or sacrifice a member of the tribe. Glugg the Weird is looking like a good choice. This is my second year Moon Watching and I’ve got to be honest, boring doesn’t begin to describe it. For example I spent 7 hours one night last week rubbing a couple of sticks together just to stave off the mind-numbing boredom.  The bonus was that I suddenly invented fire. Wow, I thought, forget about the Moon, this stuff means we won’t have to wander blindly around in the dark anymore or freeze our ******** off.  Anyway, I woke everyone up to come look at the fire but by the time we got there it’d gone out. I’ve been rubbing sticks together every night since and NOTHING.  Nobody believes in the fire anyway.  Glugg the Weird said I’d been eating too many leaves from the Wakko bush – I think that’s his problem, if you ask me.

Here at Microrock we like to think we’re at the forefront of technology. We recently produced our latest hand held device – the Microrock Flint, perhaps you own one? We’re always on the look out for highly skilled cavemen.  Do you feel Moon Watching has given you any particular skills?

Well, I’m a pretty good rock thrower.  There are some weird critters running around here at night and I give myself a Wakko leaf if I manage to bonk any of them on the head.  It’s amazing how addictive sitting on your backside for hours trying to kill random things is actually, I think it could really catch on.  And then there’s stick whittling and stone polishing.  Recently I was playing around in the sand with the pointy end of a whittled stick and I’m pretty sure I invented writing.

We’re interested in people’s social skills here at Microrock. The ability to get on with all kinds of Neanderthals in the workplace is an important attribute.

Well, I sleep most of the day so I don’t really talk to the tribe that often.  Mind you, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on much.  Before the stone tablets, checking your neighbour’s hair for fleas was about as good as it got around here, in terms of sparkling social interaction, Oh and the occasional night, club-fight, when everyone’s had too many Wakko leaves.

Do you have any hobbies?

Yes I do actually.  I recently invented cave painting.  It kind of followed on from the writing thing.  Before I went off Moon Watching, one night last week, I doodled this thing on my cave wall of old Glugg the Weird about to give his wife a good thwack on the head with a club.  It wasn’t very good, no colour, form or perspective but Gluck the Tall wandered in and sat down in front of this painting and just stared at it, then he went off, coming back with the rest of the tribe.  They sat there until the Sun God slept,  just staring at the wall, then one of them asked if Glugg the Weird had actually hit his wife. So the next night I painted three more images, Glugg tripping over a rock, his wife catching the falling club, then giving old Glugg a thwack on the head with it. Well the tribe fell about, grimacing all over the place, making a very peculiar ‘arf, arf, arf,’ sound, which led me to believe that I’d also invented Larfter.  They all came back to the cave the next night wanting to see more.  Mum said she wasn’t having a cave full of Neanderthals every night, so I painted the next image on portable stone tablets.  Now everyone spends all day looking at these tablets instead of going out on the hunt.  It’s causing a few other problems too. Wanda the Big Mouth and Wenda the Small started pulling each other’s hair out, ‘cos Wanda said people liked my painting of her more than the one of Wenda.  And Grunda the Grandma keeps asking me to paint pictures of her ugly grand kids so she can show them round.

Some interesting ideas there Ugg.  I really shouldn’t say anything but ever since Eve set up Apple when she left the garden of Eden, they’ve been itching for a takeover. The Apple arrowhead is outselling the Microrock flint, which is why we’re on this recruitment drive looking for young people who show ingenuity and initiative.  There are a few other candidates I need to interview, then we’ll get back to you in the near future.  Thanks for your time.

Ok, thanks for calling.  I’ll be getting back to the Moon Watching now.  The Moon is completely round at the moment, it looks beautiful. I’ve been chipping away at this large rock trying to make it Moon shaped. Think I’ll give up though, keeps rolling away from me – that’s not much use to anybody is it?  Bye.

*****

Ugg later received a call informing him that he had been unsuccessful at the conch shell stage.  Urrrg explained that Ugg had failed to show evidence of sufficient interest in his studies, or in the work carried out at Microrock.  Whilst certainly interesting, Urrrg felt that Ugg’s inventions just wouldn’t work in the ‘real world’ would they?  – and perhaps erred on the side of ‘wild fancy’ rather than workable ideas.

Undeterred Ugg brought together all the skills he had acquired during his time as Moon Watcher and later set up the company Guggle.  Guggle disseminated information of all kinds far and wide via the use of writing and images on stone tablets, transported by means of the wheel, once Ugg realised he was responsible for mankind’s greatest invention.  Ugg never did get the hang of fire, but Glugg the Weird did, when the Wakko bush was one day hit by lightening and the smoke from the burning leaves made him feel very good indeed.

In 9,990 BC Guggle amalgamated with Microrock and Apple in a daring takeover bid and the first thing Ugg the Younger did was abolish HR and employ Urrrg the Officious as his Stone Age runner.