Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Aspect of the Social Catastrophe: People Are Dumb

I'll try to keep this one short. I could do a whole sweeping post about the clearly false things that people post as if they were real, urban legends, and all of that. The best are those times in the past that people have passed them around to everyone at work with a huge broadcast e-mail out to everyone. That is entertainment!

I'm totally a dick and very judgmental when it comes to people posting or e-mailing these kinds of false, forwarded to a million people kinds of alerts or pleas. Each time I feel the need to point someone to http://www.snopes.com/ , my evaluation of that person's mental capacity takes a deep hit. Needing Snopes dropped on you is one of the biggest reputation killers on my scale (after, like, you know, killing people and stuff).  The impulse that goes from emotion ("I'm pissed!" "That's touching!" "Oh, neat!" "This needs to stop!" "That's scary!") straight to reposting/forwarding without a brain at any point stepping in to do even the most basic fact checking... is a real part of the Social Catastrophe.

So, which one set me off today? We'll see if you can work out just what might be false about this one. It is a real head-scratcher!

Reposted by Friend July 23, 2013. Originally posted on July 15, 2013
"Ok...never believe this stuff but......i posted this on the 12th...today is the 15th when I came home today..in the mail was a refund check for $374.00 from my old electric company I used over 8 yrs ago....CREEPY BUT TOTALLY COOL!!! And yes...I did say COOL!! Lol!!"

I love that this person seems to be embarrassed that they said the word "COOL". What I also love about this one is that nearly every sentence in it is false. It really packs it in! Let's break it down line by line, because this deserves the most in depth analysis possible.


Fuck you.

"This year December has 5 Mondays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays."

Really? Is that true? How could I ever be sure? Oh wait... everyone is reading this on a device that has a calendar built in. Hmm... let's see:

A picture in which Saturday has clearly become Tuesday!

If I had to guess, I'd say this silly thing must have started last year, in 2012 when the "5 Mondays, 5 Saturdays and 5 Sundays" in December was actually true. The other possibility is that the originator of this message is a malevolent force spreading lies, thriving and relishing in the vast stupidity it has unleashed upon the world. I'll just have to mull that over as we proceed.

"This Happens once every 823 years."

Hmm, now that this message has proven itself to be unreliable... I don't know if I can blindly trust this one... This message wouldn't lie to me again, would it? I have a calender I use to schedule things on my computer, so I said to myself, "Just how rare is this? No way is it a once in an 823 year event! I'm going to guess it happens... 1/7th of the time, possibly screwed up a bit by leap years or something" (Witness the elite mathematics and Sherlock Holmes-like cunning I bring to bear upon the problem!) So, I decided to take a 100 year span, from 2000 to 2100, and see just how often this occurs. Here is what we get:

2001, 2007, 2012, 2018, 2029, 2035, 2040, 2046, 2057, 2063, 2068, 2074, 2085, 2091, 2096

15 times in 100 years is quite a bit more often than 1 time in 823 years... if I have my math right! Just a minute while I divide 15 by 100, and 1 by 823 so I know which is larger!

1/823 = 0.0012
15/100 = 0.15
Oh, and...
1/7 = 0.1429

Yes, Decembers with 5 Mondays, Saturdays and Sundays happen slightly more that 1/7th of the time in this sample. From this time span, it seems that these magical Decembers are over 123 times more common than this message states. Wow!

"This is called money bags."

Come on, now. You're not even trying!

"So share it and money will arrive within 4 days."

I'm going to need to see the peer reviewed study on this! Surely you have some evidence?

"Based on Chinese Feng Shui."

Oh! Well, then... Can I just stop and say that Chinese Feng Shui is my favorite Feng Shui? To get back to business though... let's see, this Money Bags magical December concept is based on Feng Shui, eh? The one that is about arranging your house and furniture correctly so that the winds of chi flow properly? Of course, I'm just a silly westerner. Turns out that Wikipedia tells me Feng Shui is about a little more than arranging furniture (but not much). I'm not seeing anything about auspicious Decembers, and the ancient Chinese tradition of chain letters, e-mail forwardings, and social media reposting, but I'm an amateur. It looks like there may even be evidence that Feng Shui has existed in some form for at least 3500 years, perhaps even as early as 4000 B.C.! But wait a minute!

Gregorian Calendar: The calendaring system we use now. It is a solar calendar which was created as an alteration to the Julian Calendar in 1582 A.D.
Chinese Calendar: A lunisolar calendaring system that has seen its fair share of alterations since it was 1st known to appear somewhere around 1300 B.C.

It is not looking like those are going to line up so well. Maybe the mysterious masters of Feng Shui have been using the Gregorian Calendar or an exact equivalent since the time of fucking Ramesses the Great who was out kicking ass and building shit in Ancient Egypt at the time.

Color me skeptical.

"The one who does not share, will be without money."

Is that what they say in the Feng Shui? Excuse me, I have unanswered questions here!

"Share within 11 minutes of reading."

If I want to look like a big dummy!

"Can't hurt so I did it."

The biggest lie of all. It did hurt. It hurts bad. You never should have posted this where others would see. You even used to have a reputation for being good at math in High School. Now we all know.

Fuck, dude.

(Update: I chatted with him later and he realized the error of this all unprompted by me. He's also consistently been on the right side of some later Social Catastrophes. Rock on! Also, yay!)


* Promised fun not actually included.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Stock Humor

Today we talk about Stock Humor! This is when you take something someone thought was funny once and that we've all heard a million times before, and decide the world would be a better place if we heard it a million and one times instead. Now, humor is subjective and we aren't all going to agree on this, but... that isn't going to stop me!

Consider this cutting edge observation from my Facebook feed:

OMG, that is hilarious! So, true! It reminds me of that time my grandfather took care of my grandmother after she lost both of her legs to blood clots and diabetes.

OK, maybe that was a little dark... (and true, and not as dark as the whole story, actually...), but I thought it would be more fun to go this route rather than just say "Fuck you, get a better husband!"

Gender humor is one of the worst offenders when it comes to played-out bullshit I never need to hear again. Sometimes this garbage resides somewhere between bad humor and bad wisdom, where some old dude is like, "Hey Sonny, a broad can never have too many pairs of shoes!" or "When she asks you 'Do I look fat in this?' you (fill in the fucking blank)". Thanks Pops! "My girlfriend just got back from shopping and wants to talk about our relationship. Men don't want to talk about their feelings! Especially when we're watching the big game, havin' a Bud!" Cool Bro!

On an arguably immature level, bad gender humor is part of the reason I'm not watching the big game, havin' a Bud, because fuck all of that.

I ain't gonna be part of your system! Welcome to the real world, jackass!

In fact, I have someone in my department at work who is engaged. Today I was stuck in my cubicle and was forced to endure an excruciatingly long "Yes, dear!" style "Remember that she's always right." "A happy wife is a happy life" type conversation, and the subsequent... apparently sincere laughter. I actually was saying out loud to myself, "Oh, Jesus". Unfortunately it was the second completely stock conversation I had to endure that day. The other was the "This person has a swollen eye-lid. That's worth 20 minutes of stock bullshit we'll ask, say and laugh about!" conversation. I'm sure you know how it goes. We all do.

I think my problem is that I am reading this all wrong. It is not meant to be true humor, but some kind of fake humor that is meant to function the same as small talk. Instead of joining in with the group I instead have this voice in my head that is screaming something kinda of along the lines of "Fucking die!" This incessant voice is interfering with my ability to properly socialize with other human beings.

Still, I say this, but real stand up comedians pop out this same drivel endlessly. I expect a comedian to... be creative. Much like I do not go to live concerts to see a recital of "Hot Cross Buns" I do not listen to comedians to hear "Guys get off and fall asleep right afterwards!"

Also, is there some way we can deal with these "Oh, he's French? I'm surprised he didn't surrender when you rang the doorbell!" assholes? It is my secret hope that Charles de Gaulle trained a cadre of assassins to track down and maim these folks. I know this paragraph is... out of the blue, but I just had to say it. Anyway...

I guess what bothers me the most about stock humor is the flat mundanity. Supposedly funny things should not make me feel dead inside. Idiot man-children and insecure nags, with their stock interests. A public conversation where people fall in line and play along with these shitty roles.

It is the opposite of magical.

It is the opposite of fun.