Posts Tagged With: millwold

Paranoid Android: the alienation and extinction of the non-iPhone user


Iphone

                                        we’re so connected, but are we even friends?

One of the almighty, National Geographic-worthy sights of the human environment is the communal flocking of the iPhone users. There they gather in a social space; alone with everybody, their eyes intently locking onto their convoluted, battery-powered organ that keeps them intertwined with their hyper-real world. Their eyes and voices rarely leave the virtual jungle, leaving everyone but the non-iPhone creature out there naked upon the plains of cold, hard reality. The non-iPhone creature tries to approach and engage in social interaction with the pack, but its attempt is drowned out upon the fast twitching of index fingers swimming through the fibre space of Likes, Loves, Comments and Shares. It is alone. Vulnerable. Disconnected. Non-existent?

This is a hardship and peril every member of the non-iPhone sub-species knows too well. Increasingly isolated from the civil society of its fellow man, the creature turns to basic primal forms of human interaction such as speech and paralinguistic expression. By the time the flock finish feasting on the carcass of the inter-web, everything the non-iPhone user wanted to say, do and ponder has already been said, shared or answered in the virtual jungle of the internet. It remains irrelevant; a species of a bygone era soon to face extinction in a meteor shower of apps, ‘social’ media and incessant index fingers.

Will it survive? What are the threats? Is there any hope for the non-iPhone user sub-species to co-exist with his technological superiors in the future?


Discussion and Debate

A key part of its genetic make-up that it once shared with humans is that the non-iPhone user had a voice – that in being that it could communicate with a pack of its own kind whenever it sort to. But as the human species has evolved, the non-iPhone creature has lost the vocal DNA it once shared with its counterparts as it has now been extradited from the land of speech. 

whatsappYes, one of the relics of the bygone species of humans was tribal gatherings of groups to engage in interaction; such interaction may have led to the organisation of events, the discussion of news and the general kinship of a pack of friends. Now the non-iPhone user is excluded from the court of social interaction as the pack exchange utterances in the virtual wilderness of ‘Whatsapp’.

The non-iPhone user only finds out nights-out have been organised four days after the court has been summoned; the non-iPhone user only finds out about the latest rumours of his fellow community after they have been dis-proven; the non-iPhone user remains separated and invisible from the pack – speaking up and looking in always a moment too late.

Discussion and debate was once an essential and integral component of the non-iPhone user’s genetic make-up – without it, the creature has lost the voice it once had; a key part of its DNA has been destroyed and extinction becomes the next only logical step for such an inferior creature. In a panic of emotions, the non-iPhone user reminds itself that it is currently standing in a moment in time and this means that it does – in actual fact – exist. Or does it?

Events and Moments

What is a key part of the extinction of the non-iPhone sub-species is that they can never actually really be anywhere.

glasto stage
The non-iPhone creature goes to a concert; it watches a performance; it goes on an elephant trek; it watches a primate down a drink; it watches someone pull off a prank in the space of 7 seconds.
For the non-iPhone user these moments last a few precious moments of its sub-species life. It enjoys and takes it all in only to turn around and notice the array of flashes and iPhones storming through the surrounding air – encapsulating, collecting and recording every particle of reality to be transferred onto the new virtual realities of InstagramVine, Snapchat and Facebook.

The ultimate downfall then for the creature is the realisation that it never actually attended such an event; the non-iPhone creature can’t prove it was there and, in such, its memory and enjoyment becomes invisible compared to a virtual copy that can be disseminated endlessly through the social echelons of the internet. Without the Likes and Shares, the creature has no gratification or happiness from the concert. It was never there really. Its memories cannot be Liked or Shared, and its ticket no longer exists.

It is with this phenomenon then that the non-iPhone user realises that every moment it experiences is no longer real. In a hysteria of worry, the creature looks in the mirror once more to remind itself that it is real. After all, it can see its scaly face and appearance in the reflection. 2 + 2 = 4 and this shows that it has not become extinct… surely?

Appearance

selfie 2Well, in actual fact, no.

One of the most traumatising genetic differences that the non-iPhone sub-species has from its human counterparts is that it is exposed to the physical world in actual moments in time. It has no camera angle from which other human primates can see it through; it has no filter in which to adjust its appearance in which to attract a mating partner; it has no option of taking twenty selfies and picking the best one. The non-iPhone creature is everything and nothing: a walking victim of the cold, hard light of reality in which iPhone users can snap, upload and expose it to the virtual community of iPhone users, with or without its consent.

Without such an orchestrated appearance, how can the creature attract a mating partner? How can it continue to breed without the hoards of bedroom mirror selfles, gym selfies and tinder selfies? How can it even be seen at all? In the wake of such cataclysmic burdens and overwhelming threats to its future existence, the non-iPhone user looks down at its Nokia 100 in one last desperate attempt to remind itself that it can at least own objects. Surely this then is just a little bit of proof to reassure the non-iPhone sub-species that it has not become extinct?

Possessions

Again, this is a component of its DNA that has faded out into nothingness. Yes, the final nail in the coffin – the final piss on the grave of the non-iPhone user – is that everything it owns has become defunct.

dissertation picThe non-iPhone creature may have a cat; it may have somehow produced a baby; it may have a tasty looking meal in front of it; it may have a 13,000 word dissertation in its completion – ultimately though, without the technological organ to convert these possessions onto the virtual space of Instagram or Facebook, they remain invisible – they do not exist. How can be real why they have no Likes gratifying their existence? How can they exist if they can’t be Commented on? How then – in this instance – can they be owned?

For the non-iPhone user, it is clear that this is it for its sub-species kind. Evidently it can no longer talk, it can no longer be seen, it can no longer prove it was anywhere, and it can no longer own anything. The increasing alienation of these creatures has led to their extinction.

They no longer exist.


I write you this anatomy of the non-iPhone user not as a person, or even a creature – but as a fading afterthought: a voice beyond the grave. For you see, I have never owned an iPhone – or any smartphone of that matter. Me and my Nokia 100 have wandered out in the wilderness for years, contemplating our existence; it is only now – in a pure pristine moment of grand realisation – I have accepted I don’t exist.

If there is any luck, this post may be viewed by people on iPhones in social spaces across the world and perhaps – if only for a brief second – I myself may become real again as I appear from the air and step physically onto the ground of the iPhone world.

If this is happening now then please remember my name:

Ryan Millward – proud owner of a Nokia 100.

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The Medical Trial Diaries


quotient clinical 2

Violently washed up from the wastelands of outside civilisation, I picked myself up and trudged through the doors of ‘Umax Clinical‘ – a dystopian Mecca of mysterious allure that located itself in the centre of this vast world. Four days I was to reside here for – a time that may gratify my existence or render me defunct in this world of numbered citizens, drug-filled breakfasts and segregated communities. I am test Subject Number 265. My new name; my new identity – my everything.

Upon entry I was systematically approached by one of the wardens who shepherded me toward my residence ward that I was to abode in for the next few days. Becoming accustomed to the immediate solemn atmosphere, I chucked my bags down and stared around at the other souls in this cold enclosure of medical science. Subject Number 476 gazed back at me like a scared animal from across the room as it looked up anxiously from its book; Subject Number 837 lay in the bed asleep hooked up to all manner of scientific flashing machines; Subject Number 234 fixated his beetle-eyed stare down at its laptop, rarely moving a single muscle in his stoic face. Unearthly silence bellowed out across the ward, down the corridors and throughout my mind. Isolated from outside society, I was now the subject: a fully living, breathing specimen who was regimented and ruled by the doctor-police as they sought to use my mind and body for their drugs and thesis’. It was a scary world – a menacingly habitat of still life that I quickly went about understanding if I was to survive such consternation, tyranny and oppression.

umax clinicalThe layout of this world was relatively simple: in it existed four communities, all of whom were segregated the majority of the time via the colours of their ‘Umax Clinical’ t-shirts. What colour uniform you wore denoted what study you were employed and utilised for; this apartheid-esque technique was implemented to aid the doctor-police so that they could effectively monitor and regiment any unauthorized movements out there amongst the corridor wastelands and other ward zones. After all, you were to be in bed for work strictly at set times so that your dose could be distributed, your blood taken, your heart-rate monitored and blood pressure analysed. Missing these essential times would see you extradited from this medical world without the pay you so bravely wandered in here to get.; £700 in my Populace’s case – a profound and traumatising loss, but perhaps not as much as the upper class Populace C who were partaking in a £3000 long-haul radiation study. They definitely weren’t going to get on the wrong side of the doctor-police. Why would they? Any good subject of course knew that the money came first and foremost amongst physical and mental health in this civilisation. Our bodies were commodities; our bank accounts were our heart-rates. Money was our survival. 

Essentially the true survivors of this civilisation were the ones who made it out with their sanity, physical health and their full reimbursement fee. Of course, as mentioned, the most crucial and essential of these three to us subjects was the money; with procedure in place that affected these finances, I would make sure I worshipped all government laws set by the doctor-police and co-operate with them while they tested their drugs on my body so that none of my £700 wage was taxed and deducted. Amongst these state laws included:

  • Subjects must always wear shoes outside of their bed
  • Subjects must report to bed on time for bodily experimentation and analysis
  • Subjects must not consume or use any unauthorized foods, drinks and toiletry products
  • Subjects must provide the doctor-police with all blood and urine samples
  • Subjects must be civil with their fellow subjects
  • Subjects must always wear their colour uniform and name badge

I was determined to survive and be successful in this shady and daunting civilisation. I was to be a hardened, law-abiding subject and would seek to keep my sanity by working on my dissertation, watching the outside communication device and occasionally integrating into the social zones where consumer devices such as consoles and games were located. Healthy routine doses of daylight and fresh air were essential if I was to combat the cocktail of drugs that were being pumped into my bodily fluids; and let’s not forget regular walks around the corridor wastelands when permitted so my legs and muscles didn’t seize up.

I cast my authorised items out beside my bedside and prepared for the long days ahead.

Day One

monitor

So the title of this stay was called: ‘A DOUBLE BLIND, PLACEBO-CONTROLLED, RANDOMIZED, SINGLE AND MULTIPLE ASCENDING DOSE STUDY TO INVESTIGATE THE SAFETY, TOLERABILITY, AND PHARMACOKINETICS OF JNJ-24019222 IN HEALTHY MALE SUBJECTS’. I was still flicking through the contract of my residence in Umax Clinical civilisation when I realised I had no idea specifically what the government were requesting I do. I turned to face Subject Number 234 who had spotted my look of perplexity in reading the criteria of my stay here within the Ward A Populace.

“You a reserve or are you getting administered with the drug today?” he said inquisitively. I hadn’t heard the term ‘reserve’ as of yet so wondered what the subject was on about. “No idea; I was told I would be getting dosed today. I assume the ‘reserves’ don’t get promoted to the full study. I don’t want that – I need the maximum wage from these guys.” I said. Almost immediately he dismissed my concerns: “Ahh don’t worry – your bed number is the one after mine so I think we are getting dosed today. Look at me; I always get dosed. I believe it’s those two part-timers over there that are the reserves”. He pointed bluntly to the two adjacent subjects opposite the ward who were plugged in to their laptops.

Subject Number 234 carried on excitedly. “Yep, the trick is all in the veins my man. Look.” He pulled up his sleeve to show me his forearm. “Look at this vein – big and juicy so that the doctor-police can efficiently insert a cannula into it and extract my blood for analysis. This is my fifth study here. I think I must be the perfect subject for them – fit, healthy, no bad habits and BIG juicy veins.” He proceeded to let out a little squeal which I think was meant to be an awkward laugh but I couldn’t be too sure. “I’ve been the most qualified subject in here for a while now. Soon I’ll be on the way up to the big important trials! “I’m gonna be rich man! Rich! He certainly seemed a strange one. I was going to ask him more about the specifics of the trial but I instead turned away and pretended to be busy with my laptop.

doctor policeAfter only a minute of procrastination I heard hard footsteps begin to echo throughout the ward which became louder and louder until they reached the bottom of my bed and stopped abruptly. I slowly turned my head up to see the figure that stood dauntingly in the centre of my vision. Stern, silent and still with an aura of authoritative, totalitarian menace – it was an agent of the doctor-police.

The doctor-policemen was staring at me vacantly; his beady-eyed spectacles reflected back my body that lay sprawled out upon this medical bed. There seemed to be a hovering, dark mist of blackness around him; it was subtle but it was definitely there if you looked closely. His stern face rarely moved, but if it did, it almost felt like some sort of illusion. Did he just blink sideways? I can’t be sure. I hope not. His nose twitched and he began speaking.

Subject Number 235: you are here to partake in a study to measure the toxicity and safety of drug JNJ-24019222 – a pill component that will hopefully be used in the future to combat the seizures of epileptic people. Your blood, stomach, skin, flesh, brain and urine will confirm whether there are any side effects to this drug. You have been chosen because you’re a healthy male subject, aged 18-45, who doesn’t smoke and has the right BMI. For your time in this civilisation you will be financially rewarded. Your bank account is your heart-rate. Money is your survival.”

I opened my mouth to begin to quiz the agent some more about the specifics and dangers of this drug but I was sharply interrupted as the doctor-police agent wrapped up his speech fastidiously. “You will be administered the drug in tablet form in a couple of hours time. This tablet may contain drug JNJ-24019222 or it may a placebo containing no active ingredients. Placebo helps increase the accuracy and widen the depth of our studies upon you subjects. Please note that this is the first time the test drug has been administered in a human body. Remain where you are for ongoing analysis. Your bank account is your heart-rate; money is your survival.

He promptly sped off across the ward to Subject Number 837 to no doubt repeat the exact same script that he had just lectured me with. I was watching him and subconsciously taking in the repeated information I had just consumed when all of a sudden a different being walked in the room. He stood tall, bold, in a grey suit; looking about 55 and standing upright with terrific confidence. I realised he must have been a figure of utmost importance as even the robotic agent for a second stopped his systematic speech upon Subject 837 to gaze his way. The mystery man and three other doctor-police floated seamlessly down the centre of the room and approached Subject 476 two beds down from me to crowd around him, lean slowly in and peer into his darting eyes. The doctor-police all wore a red tabard sporting the instruction ‘Dosing – Do Not Disturb’ over the front and back of it of it. This place was beginning to feel like some sort of zoo.

One of the doctor-police introduced the mysterious man. “Subject Number 476. This is Dr Kenneth – he has travelled to Umax Clinical from America needlefor the purpose of this study.” Before 476 could get his words out, Dr Kenneth began speaking. “Hello there. Myself and my partner are from a chemist agency in the states and are sponsoring this study of drug JNJ-24019222. We’d just like to thank you for your co-operation in this system; without key subjects such as you at ground level, this company would never be able to operate and drugs such as this would never be proven to be safe – hence they would never be able help combat conditions such as epilepsy. How are you feeling this morning Number 476?”

The subject let out a forced smile. “Thank you sir, I’m happy to help. I feel fine today, really I do. A little bit drowsy but I think that’s just the lighting in this place.” 

“Good” said Doctor Kenneth firmly. “Then you are ready to work; it’s time for your morning blood sample”.

Within ten seconds the team of doctor-police had crowded around him and wheeled over a stack of medical tools beside his bed. Amongst the clatter of metal and jargon dialect of the agents overlapping, I made out the phrases “..may feel a little stingand “sharp scratch”. A gap in the doctor-police emerged and my eyes caught the dizzying sight of a needle tube becoming besieged with red liquid that rose up the length of it like watching one of those high-score amusement park machines hit a new record. Did he just sigh in pain? I think he did. The clatter got louder and louder and the other subjects in the room all began to look over anxiously, like livestock cattle fearing for their companion as he entered the slaughterhouse. The rate in which the doctor’s arms moved was unnatural and wondrous; there limbs moved in a blurred, engineered fashion that was giving me a headache just watching. As the clatter came to an end and the doctors unerringly disappeared out into the corridor wastelands, silence fell over the ward and I gazed over to see Number 476 laying there motionless, staring at the ceiling. The silence was deafening; the greyness and emptiness of the symmetrical room combined together with 476’s empty bloodshot stare to draw in an atmosphere that was melancholy, but simultaneously stirring with anxiety and stress.

The silence soon broke as one of the doctor-police appeared out of nowhere by my side.. “Subject number 265.” My neck had a spasm, turning it instantly around to face him. “Yes, you.”

“Please be in bed ready for bodily analysis and dosing at 12.00 sharp.”

I realised I was next.

Day Two

monitor

It was the late afternoon and I had finished for the day. The morning was spent toiling in my workplace-bed as the doctor-police frequently took bloods, vitals and memory tests as the hours slowly and mockingly went by upon the clock’s surface. It began to become an obsession; seriously, has anyone ever sat and watched a clock hand move for hours on end – it has to be one of the top ten slowest things in this world, yet remains the most essential measurement in which our lives are based on. Time in this place stuttered on forever – something that was leading sleep to become my best friend as it took me on its time-travel journeys. Another friend I had gained in this civilisation to help combat the tediousness and terror of time was the outside communication device; this electronic box was provided to each Populace here and was currently providing me with a proliferation of cinema and exciting dramas that gave me a shiny vehicle in which to escape the squalor and harsh reality of this dystopian civilisation. The cannula device strapped to my arm that was used to extract blood was a constant branded reminder of my duties to the doctor-police and this company, but for a brief moment I could transcend this enclosure of medical science and become wrapped up warmly in the blankets of escape, gratification and identification that this media was nurturing me with. Yes, for a momentary lapse in time I was free and relinquishing the drudgery and depression brought on by this morning’s medical shift. 

Whilst enjoying this outside communication device, I was situated in the Populace A common area zone eating my meal that was provided to me exactly at 5pm every day. The list of foods was put systematically in front of me soon after entry and I had to gaze through the hard text to pick out the most attractive options. Of course, there was nothing with any fruit juices, strong sugars or seeds in as they may interfere with my the analysis of my bodily fluids, causing the doctor-police headaches as they tried to sift through the data. Poppy seeds were completely out of the question unless you wanted to test positive for heroin seeing as the seeds contained trace extracts of opiates – a scenario completely outlawed by the doctor-police; only their drugs were legal here. The options were regimented but Spaghetti Bolognese with garlic bread was an appealing one upon the list’s surface when I choose my menu – an option I was glad I elected as I consumed its rich taste most eagerly. I consumed it along with a nice cup of coffee from the dispenser beside me. The coffee was decaffeinated of course; it just wasn’t feasible to have any drug such as caffeine raising my industrial heartbeat and clashing with any other drugs as they swam through my bloodstream. Subject 234 – aka ‘subject of the month’ – was again next to me ranting on about himself once more.

tv“This show is my absolute favourite!”. He let out another one of his squeal laughs. “I need to live the life that this guy is living. If I just get a few more trials here and provide the doctor-police with some more blood and vitals then surely I’ll have enough money to move to New York, rent a penthouse apartment and drive a fast car around town. Just a few more medical trials and I will be that man!” 

Since our first encounter, Subject Number 234 had become increasingly irritating and insufferable. Did he ever listen to anyone? Everything I said flew over his head to echo down the corridors, off the walls and back into his ears for his own self-worth and gratification. Despite such instances, I tried once again to engage him in conversation. “You do realise this show is just fictional? To do all that you just listed, you would a hell off a lot more money than we can ever get here. You do realise that don’t you?” Again, my words went over his head; they didn’t just fly over in fact – they soared. His mind was a long way away in space and time as his bloodshot eyes stood transfixed to the outside communication device, almost as if under a hypnotic trance. Did he even notice that his arm appeared to be breaking out into a sore rash around his cannula? I don’t think so. I couldn’t take more of his presence so I finished my dinner, got up and went for a walk around the corridor wastelands seeing as I didn’t have any upcoming tests for a few hours. Three hours to be exact checking the patronising clock once more.

I was out there wandering the sprawling plains of those mundane corridors that expanded outwards forever into an abyss of coldness and greyness when I began to feel dizzy and light-headed. Out here, everything seemed to go on forever. The light-switches; the medical posters; the doors. Did I just walk past the same door twice? I definitely had done. I had just turned the corner when another being began to approach my way from the bottom of the corridor; it wasn’t the doctor-police or Dr Kenneth telling me to return to my populace zone, but instead it was a man of another colour and populace – blue and the high-paying Populace C to be exact. In an instant I could gauge that something wasn’t quite right with this foreign individual. The blue man stumbled slowly up towards me and darted his sight on me; his eyes were tiny dots that appeared to be lost in space and time, as if they last saw the burning colours of daylight many a lifetime ago. His body was frail, his skin pale and his t-shirt creased.

corridor

Silence ensued for a brief second as we stood facing each other in the corridor. He blinked suddenly a few times and stared intently into my eyes.

“I saw it you know. They say I’m crazy; they say I’m dreaming; they say I’m tired – but I, with my human eye, gazed its mischievous site. There was a glitch in the wall at the bottom of my ward. Something slipped; maybe it didn’t think I would see its revealing site, but I saw the particles of that wall become mangled, frayed and disjointed – like an old video game flickering and buffering as it attempts to work coherently. ‘This world isn’t real’; ‘This world is a lie’; ‘This world is not for me’ – the thoughts plaguing my troubled head.”

His immediate ramblings went in one ear and out the other. A few hours ago my vision went a bit blurry and distorted, which I think was what he was trying to point out, albeit in a weird manner. It was the lights in this place, coupled with the complete lack of daylight – that of which could only occasionally be found at the right time of the day when the sunlight dug its way down into the small garden pit in the centre of this dystopia. Before I could ponder what he was on about further, he barked at me and made me jump. His eyes swinging wildly, he repeated: “the businessmen drink my blood, like the kids in art school said they would; the businessmen drink my blood, like the kids in art school said they would..”.

Beginning to feel a bit intimidated by this blue man from Populace C, I tried to reason with him. “Erm are you feeling alright? If not, you know you can walk out any time you want don’t you?” I waited for a response before pointing up toward the end of the aisle. “The gate to outside civilisation is just there. Just a few metres away”. Again I pointed sternly toward the gate of freedom that currently had no doctor-police guarding it – at least only by camera anyway.

“How can I?” he said angrily. “Look at you; you mere Red worker, doing some low-paying study. I’m the one wearing the blue. Not the red. Not the yellow. But the damn blue. Without important higher-income subjects like me, this company would collapse. I’m the only subject qualified enough here to test these drugs and radiation – it is my purpose! Income is sanity; my bank-account is my heart-rate; money is my survival.” 

Remembering that this blue subject was part of the radiation trial, I took a couple of steps back as we were told we weren’t allowed to have any physical contact with such test subjects. How did he even get out of his populace zone? They were meant to be quarantined. As he began to mumble on some more derogative comments, I stood aghast and perplexed at this individual as he stared patronisingly at me. I was just getting ready to argue back when two agents of the doctor-police came out of nowhere, grabbed the subject forcefully by the arm and escorted him off promptly, presumably back to his ward that he had escaped from. I watched his tiny eyes swing about wildly before they disappeared into the greyness and emptiness of this corridor maze. As I stood perplexed by what had just happened, I could hear his voice echo throughout this jungle wilderness of medical science. His last words again repeating in my ear before fading away: “the businessmen drink my blood, like the kids in art school said they would; the businessmen drink my blood, like the kids in art school said they would..”.

And then silence.

Day Three

monitor

The clock had definitely stopped moving; I was sure of it. The harder I stared at it from my medical bed, the more it became frayed and disjointed – strangely like the wild blue man yesterday had said. I began to feel queasy; I began to feel light-headed. Ill. It was only the afternoon but already I felt like a whole day or two had passed. It had been the toughest one yet; I was scheduled in to stay at my medical bed-workplace all day so the doctor-police could take blood and vitals each hour following an increased dose of the test drug. The cannula that was sticking out my arm looked as ugly as ever, but I had gotten use to that spike being nestled in the centre of my vein sucking up the blood whenever the doctor-police saw fit to turn the tap on. It was now a part of me: an organ, a limb. Although my muscles were seizing up due to the containment of this room and my mind was astray with trouble and strife, I was accumulating a healthy pay-packet of money by now. I thought of things I could do with it; I thought about the things I could buy with it. £500 was a lot of money for just over two days employment in this civilisation and for a moment I considered just quitting the study and getting out before I was trapped in here forever like the feral blue man in the corridor wastelands. After all, the contract said I could leave when I want; it stipulated that there was no set obligation for me stay and be pumped with drugs if I didn’t see fit. I looked at the clock once more that was still blurred and distorted. It was time to leave. I shuffled up my medical bed and shouted over to one of the doctor-police.

After telling him I wished to leave the study, silence ensued for a good few seconds before the doctor-policemen blinked rapidly and repeatedly. His stare got more and more intense; the black mist around him grew darker. Finally, he opened his mouth. “I will go and get Doctor Kenneth for you Subject Number 265. Stay here.” He glided off quickly along the shiny floor, disappearing out the door with in a sudden flash. I lied and waited in anticipation, again staring aimlessly at the patronising clock which was beginning to look like some sort of demented clown face. Did the clown face just wink at me? I can’t be sure. I hope not. It was definitely time to get out here; whatever time the clown said it was, I knew for certain I was ready to storm out of the gate of freedom and back into beautiful outside civilisation.

There I was staring once more obsessively and intensely at the clown clock when the familiar sound of hard footsteps along the floor tip tapped their way dr kennethdown to my bed; this time however it wasn’t an agent of the doctor-police coming to strap some equipment to me and check my blood and vitals, but instead it was the big man at the top. The boss; the businessman; the leader. The man who caused even the robotic doctor-police to tread their cold, systematic operations carefully. I pulled my body up against the headboard of my medical bed to face Dr Kenneth at eye-level. He straightened his tie and began to speak.

“So Subject Number 265. One of our doctor-police tells me you wish to leave the clinic. Certainly this seems abrupt and quite disappointing. May I ask what your reasons are for this 265?”

I paused for a second, suddenly feeling a bit lost for thoughts. I coughed and overcame this pause. “It’s just the contract sir – it stipulates I can leave when I want. I’m beginning to get a bit sick of this place – not physically or anything, I feel fine, but you know, just a bit sick if you know what I mean?”

He looked at me puzzlingly. “No I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean Number 265. Obviously you are right that you are free to go when you want, but do you think you can afford to go right now? Certainly for no seemingly good reason?” 

I bit back. “It says no where in the contract that I must state my reason for leaving; just that I can leave whenever I see fit – that freedom is still reserved to me. Clause 3 of the contract entitled ‘Do I have to take part’ reads: ‘You can withdraw yourself from the clinic at any time and keep your reasons confidential’. I was suddenly beginning to feel like some sort of lawyer. “I thank you for letting me take part in this important study, but I just want to leave. Thank you”

The surrounding doctor-police and subjects in the ward were beginning to look over at me as I engaged in conversation with Dr Kenneth; it was almost as they were incongruous of my attitude and just simply couldn’t comprehend that I was just so bluntly asking to leave – as if I had committed treason against this dystopian state. I rolled my eyes and shuffled further upwards in my bed, hopefully hinting to Dr Kenneth that I was getting ready to extradite myself from this oppressive civilisation. It was then Dr Kenneth cleared his throat with an almighty cough and began speaking.

“Certainly you are free to leave any time you want Number 265, but ask yourself this. You are making over £250 every night you stay in here; we provide you with food, comfort, shelter and most importantly, purpose. Out there what are you 265? Ask yourself really: Who Are You? Because in here you have a purpose – a reason to work; a goal to achieve; a civilisation to support. In the last few days you have contributed vastly to the field of the pharmaceutically industry; our tests on you have so far revealed that drug number JNJ-24019222 indeed looks to be safe to use within the industry. Our concerns about certain ingredients having adverse effects on the immune system have thus far been disproved, meaning that this drug will soon be ready to be shipped and treat people who have epilepsy. Do you really think you should stop now when we have work to do and further gains to make?”.

I paused, my mind vibrating and humming with the conviction of his words. “I guess not” I said. I looked up at the clown clock which suddenly began to look less demented.

clown clock“Good Subject Number 265. You must understand that you are as valuable to this company and civilisation as me and any of the doctor-police in here; without ground support such as you in which to monitor the effects of this drug on your health, then our whole operation would become defunct and our company would collapse. There would be no pharmaceutical industry receiving these first-rate drugs; there would be no patients consuming them over the counter; there would be no goals – no purpose. This is your purpose Subject Number 265. Out there, you are just another drain on society not contributing to anything; in here though, you have goals and aspirations and achievements. Some of the best test subjects in here started out like you: toiling in the smaller studies, asking to leave after a couple of days. They overcame such frivolous worries and are now the subjects we use in our most important and best-paying studies. A few more drug trials in here, a few more blood doses, a few more hours spent watching the clock, and then you’ll be up working in the £2000 and £3000 studies! Doesn’t that sound great 265!? Think of all the stuff you can buy with that. Think of the happiness. Think of your purpose. There are lucrative gains to be made and pecuniary procedures to follow throughout your life here you know. After this study is complete, another will be commissioned; and then another; and then another. Subject Number 265: you will never not have purpose here in Umax Clinical. Doesn’t that sound great? Doesn’t that sound beautiful?”

“In the end Subject Number 265, I think you find it’s all just common sense really. Don’t you agree?”

My head was spinning; I didn’t know where I was now. He made so much sense; yet I was sure I wanted to leave a minute a go? I did didn’t I? Wasn’t I feeling mentally drained and sick of this place? But why would I leave now? In here I have purpose; I have a goal; I have aspirations. In here I have freedom… My mind flickered some more and I stared back up at the clown clock which was now smiling at me, almost as if it was asking me not to leave him. The clock suddenly didn’t look so bad. Perhaps I could stay. Surely it’s the only way? I have blood to provide and an industry to keep running. What else awaited me outside in that desolate society. Purpose gratified my existence here. Out-there I was defunct; out there I was poor; out there I was unnatural. My thoughts swarmed about all throughout my head; I began to fade out to black when all of a sudden Dr Kenneth’s voice brought me back down to the surly bonds of clear, opalescent earth. Back down to where I belonged.

“So, do you still wish to leave Subject Number 265? Are you going to stay and help us?” he said with an endearing smile.

I didn’t have any choice. I was to stay here and work. “Yes Dr Kenneth” I said. “I will stay here and help us achieve our goals”.

.

“My bank-account is my heart-rate; income is my sanity; money is my survival.”

.

monitor

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How to be good at Facebook – Semester Two


Chapter One

 

It is not merely a short cut. It is all these things and something more. It is the guarantee of our self-respect; it is the projection upon the world of our own sense or our own value, our own position, and our own rights. They are the fortress of our traditions, and behind its defences we can continue to feel ourselves safe in the position we occupy.” (Lippman, 1922)

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The world has changed. When I first spoke of my studies into Facebook last year, a subversive and post-modern stance was adorned in my quest to figure out just how one integrated and re-presented themselves into an online society. I investigated intrinsically into the process of achieving ‘Likes’ and becoming ‘Like Literate’ on the platform of popularity that is Mark’s universe. It was all in jest, perhaps even for humorous effect, but now, gazing out at the past year, it is evident that the tide has changed – the once unblemished shores of reality now breached. We now see people producing babies as commodities to obtain Likes; we now witness people shaping stories in their lives to create an entertaining online discourse to attract Likes; we now bear witness to ‘TIMELINE‘ – the world’s first time travel device where people have the option to regurgitate life events such as statuses into the shining spotlight of the news-feed. Through the culmination of these various factors we have witnessed an economic upturn where avant-garde users have yielded their revolutionary moment to transfer as many Likes as possible into their swelling accounts. It’s a different world from when I last spoke. It’s quicker. Faster. Perhaps even more sinister.

This is not mere theorizing of an arbitrary nature; all it takes is for a student to study the new phenomenon that is the ‘100 Likes Club‘ – a high-roller group of big-city hot shots who have Likes to burn. Here, have a look at this upper class group below:

Yes, on the crusted soil of this rapidly changing playing field, Facebook entrepreneurs have scaled their way to the top of the Like Ladder leaving others to permeate the solemn slums beneath. A once traditional democratic society has been engulfed with tyranny and a sense of Marxism; some unfortunates trudge solemnly through scores of news-feeds and groups trying hopelessly to produce content of a pecuniary nature, whilst many live it up watching the Likes be rapidly transferred into their Facebook accounts. A clear gulf is emerging where users are being either assigned into the upper bourgeoisie class or the much lesser proletariat class. It may not appear fair on an aesthetic scale, but ultimately this juxtaposition illuminates the changing battleground of Facebook where new factors have made users adapt to the neon-wilderness around them. Some have acclimated to the change and are now getting more Likes than they ever could have imagined in the past; and, of course, some haven’t been able to adapt – leaving them malnourished and dying. Many flee to Twitter – a harsh pilgrimage to an inferior, Like-less universe.

However it is not to fear as I, Mr R Millward, have again conducted my research to help steer you through the tempestuous troubles of being accepted on the internet! I have conducted even more extensive and in-depth research than my 2011 study. Through the academic slog of monitoring contemporary Facebook, I have pulled out all the enmeshed, hidden factors that will enable you to rid the slums in place of luxury and Likes. Get your notebook out and prepare for semester two where we will be evaluating some of the exciting new Facebook battlegrounds such as:

  • ‘Mainstream’ Facebook
  • ‘Timeline’
  • The ‘Re-newsfeed’
  • The ‘Bullet’
  • The ‘Rush hour’
  • The ‘Share’
  • The ‘Window’
  • The ‘Baby’
  • Creating ‘Discourse’
All of this will be crucial to your future existence here in the world. Why? The time has come where “we need Likes to justify our existence in space and time; and with this cataclysmic burden weighing down upon us – every now and again, from time to time, one begins to feel the strain of waiting for that notification to come.” (Millward, 2011).
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The concept of ‘Mainstream Facebook’ 

 

Why are nearly all of Rihanna’s songs about love and relations featuring consistent sexual imagery dubbed to a radio-friendly beat? The answer is simple: her producers and song-writers know that the majority of music listeners in the world are casual listeners looking for a ‘nice’ pop song to have on in the background as they drive, dance and browse the internet. Thus this makes her artistic approach, viewed from purely a commodity aspect, the most lucrative one possible. Her and her team aren’t stupid – they know what the mainstream is and this is what has amassed her fortune of 55 million Likes on Facebook.  Oh and $60 million dollars elsewhere.

YOU are operating on a vividly similar scale every time you publish some content into the Facebook news-feed. With your instruments of grammar, syntax, humour and Like cookies, you are producing an artistic product to be consumed by your Facebook friends; you walk onto the stage of the news-feed either to sell millions or to flounder and be ignored whilst you claim to be ‘Indie’ or ‘Alternative’. Make no mistake about it, in Facebook society the only way is Likes – and so the credible ‘Indie’ card doesn’t apply in Mark’s universe. And yes, just like music, there are certain ways for you to adapt and integrate your content so that it is picked up by the Facebook ‘Mainstream’ allowing it to get maximum likes! Have a look at the X-ray of the Facebook news feed endoskeleten above. What you glimpse there is a brief snapshot of the activity of Facebook users. Whilst some areas are bustling with activity and likes, others are derelict and exiled – devoid of any Like activity. Here is each section of the Facebook stream explained:

Section A; This is the mainstream section where the majority of transactions take place; hundreds of Likes a second are being transferred into accounts every time someone discusses a popular Facebook area relevant to your Facebook friends. LEARN THESE AREAS – for me such content to flourish in the mainstream would be: ‘Nandos’, ‘Kittens’, ‘Overdraft’, ‘Uni’, or ‘Colly’ for example.

Section B; – This is the suburban section of the Facebook stream; Likes can be transferred, but most often than not they are hard to come by. Often areas of content from the mainstream fall into the suburban section after becoming ‘dated’ or ‘old’. Again this is highly relevant to the demographic of your Facebook friend list.

Section C; – This is the baron wasteland – a Like-deserted place of drudgery and depression where millions roam hopelessly failing to get Likes as they produce unlike-able, whining content such as ‘What a rubbish day, grrr!”. Generally the users who publish the most content (typically ten statuses a day) are occupants of this desolate wasteland.

All it takes for me to evaluate this point is to journey to the ‘Nandos’ page on Facebook where I have to option to view ‘Friend Activity’. Upon clicking I am greeted with scores of statuses all sporting the word ‘Nandos’ in it. Like Rihanna on Radio 1, it’s clearly evident that Nandos is achieving mass air time throughout my Facebook friends – this has whipped up a hysteria of popularity where many users swimming in the mainstream are seeing Likes being transferred succinctly into their account. Here are a few examples:

The very word ‘Nandos’, whether used positively or negatively, steals stares when it is embedded into the news feed – balance this with solid opinionated text and it is sure to attract the attention of the mainstreamers and their Like guns. As is evident from this visionary research, CONFORM-ation is conformation of Likes in the concept of ‘Mainstream Facebook’. Just remember to always monitor the most-Liked content as “there are certain genres, themes and attributes of comments/statuses that magnet likes off your Facebook audience” (Millward, 2011). If you can conduct a brief ethnography to identify what these mainstream areas of your Facebook friends are, then you will be circumstantially aided in your pursuit of emancipating yourself from the slums and ascending into the upper classes of social networking!

Things to be weary of: The ‘Bullet’

Of course being the place of such intense attention, the mainstream of Facebook, whilst baring host to many potential Likers, also accommodates infidels that look to sabotage your status in any way possible. Unfortunately in a society of proliferate and exponential Likes (most evident in the development of the ‘100 Likes Club‘), this has also evoked a breeding ground of devious users who look to ‘bullet’ your status. The concept of the ‘bullet‘ is a simple one: when a status is newly published into the news-feed, an enemy may try to try to insert a derogative and destructive comment that will thus take the sting out the status; this then continues to drain Likes out the status and, what’s worse, the actual ‘bullet‘ comment may itself begin to accumulate Likes itself! This leads to many users deleting the original well-thought-up status – truly a travesty to the original publisher. It has happened to me before, and I have to admit I have also been inherently guilty of it. I realise this may be a complicated and abstract factor so I, as ever, have illustrated it promptly below.

Luckily for me, through the aggregation of knowledge and quick-thinking, I was able to shield myself sufficiently with a veiled ‘Original Social Commentary Cookie’. This allowed to me to fend off the infidel and achieve extra Likes being transferred into my account. Of course this strong defence is seldom achieved; most often than not a successful infidel will achieve maximum Likes as they watch the complete annihilation of the original status. The best way to protect yourself from infidels is to take note of who your enemies are; from this you can begin to muster together your defence mechanism – this is best done by hiding specific content from potential infidels as seen below.

The imperative thing to remember is that, in an online society of tyranny and Marxism, there will always be sinister and callous enemies out there that will continue to stack their ammunition against you. With the right defence, as made evident here, you should be fully equipped and prepared to step into the news feed without fear, oppression or consternation. Good luck!

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Bibliography;

i        Lippman, Walter. (1922), Public Opinion. Free Press

ii       Millward, Ryan. (2011).Part 5 How to be good at Facebook. WordPress: Coventry

iii      Millward, Ryan. (2011). Part 2 How to be good at Facebook. WordPress: Coventry

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Part Five – The finale to my guide ‘How to be good at Facebook’


The irony of it all

Ideally, as a committed student looking to learn the tricks of the trade, you have been reading and watching this guide in it’s development over the course of the last week. But I have been staring at something else. Something quite beautiful.

“Facebook user 1 likes your link”. “Facebook user 2 likes your link”. “Facebook user 3 likes your link”. Yes, this is the glorious sight I have had bestowed on my gleaming eyes all week. By now, hopefully after learning what I have sought to teach in this guide, you will be fully familiar with ‘the feeling’. Each time I gained a ‘like’, I felt a small sensation shoot through the nerves of my body – up to my face where a huge smile grew and a tear of happiness flowed down onto my keyboard. For you see, as a good student you would have been learning a lot from my intense research into social networking; after all, in 2011, being compatible and popular on Facebook says a huge amount about you and the quality of you as an empowered and informed member of society. But why listen to me – who am I to say how you retrieve a ‘like’ and become part of this post-modern society? Well for you see, I am very much just like you – in the social networking arena, standing naked before a sea of people with their ‘like guns’ ready to fire. Yes, I too am a student of this confusing change to our relationships with other humans; because do you know what? Things will never be the same again. We need likes to justify our existence in space and time; and with this cataclysmic burden weighing down upon us – every now and again, from time to time, one begins to feel the strain of waiting for that notification to come. I am no different. Having been running low on likes a week ago, I was slipping down that ‘like ladder’. The greyhounds and wolves had deserted me and I was under-nourished; suffice to say, I needed payment of likes to my account quick. Being skint, I took major steps to retain my place on the like ladder. How though? How does one go about turning the tides and gaining a large quantity of likes for himself. Well the solution was simple – and you are looking at it now.

I’m a walking paradox, no I’m not

Whilst you may have been learning about ‘like cookies’, varying values of likes and finding your audience, I have been learning that people love to read and learn about being good at Facebook. It’s the ultimate, quintessential post modern experience that evokes reactions such as ‘lol’ and ‘pmsl’. Each part of this blog I have made viewable in the big arena itself. Part one. Part two. Part three. Part four. And now, the finale – part 5. Each time I have uploaded one, I have immediately had a large quantity of likes transferred into my Facebook account. Here study these images below.

As you can see, the first one received double figures and I began to feel my target audience develop. Veiled in the form of a blog, my original social commentary cookie seen a solid payment of 15 likes.

The second one was my largest transfer of likes; gaining 33 likes off my Facebook audience, I began to no longer feel under-nourished. Instead I had my largest ever total of likes and I was very much full. Going back to the model introduced in part three, this achieved a massive 10% like per friend ratio! Kieran Cullen I am not.

The third one again put me back in that like fountain; arms in the air, smile on face – I was looking to the heavens with delight as those likes fell down upon me! All 29 of them! This wasn’t dinner anymore; this was just being greedy, helping myself to afters.

With my hands full with all these likes, I could afford to post the fourth part in non prime time territory. I stepped into the arena at quarter to 5 and again took a healthy serving of those magic blue buttons. God they were delicious; even narrowing my audience with some controversial facts about the female audience, I still seen the transfer of 17 likes!

The response to this post will reach double figures within 3 hours of the blog going up. Yes, I have also studied time travel (but i’ll blog about that some other time).

As you can see, I was no longer headless, out to rot in the wilderness with no likes to feed upon; the tides had turned and I had very much became what we all seek to achieve – yes, my ‘like balance’ topped up, I had again became like literate on the platform of popularity that is Facebook. Integrated into society, my existence was justified to the point where I had people (real physical people) in the real world actually coming up to me and congratulating me on this very blog itself! Many hands were shook. Many enjoyments were made known. The word ‘Like’ had again transformed; swept back into the air, it had became the literal word it once was where people in the real world genuinely ‘liked’ my blog.

I can’t really explain the feeling, but it felt good. It felt comforting.

The End

And isn’t that what we all really want? To be liked is to be of value to other peoples lives. This is why a facebook ‘Like’ says so much more that what people think. Yes, I have a dream. That one day – we will all be Obamas; empowered, informed and of ‘Like’ness to the rest of the society we live in. Only then can we move forward in this world. Wars will stop, John McCains will vanish, the TLS disease will be wiped out, crimes will fade into memories, enemies will be transformed to friends – through the skills of being good at Facebook, we can begin to incorporate our positivity into the world around us. The next time you click that ‘Like’ button just remember, you are making the world a better place; a place where everyone is happy, everyone is liked and everyone has some value to the other humans who share this world with them. You have seen through intense research and ethnography, not only upon my Facebook clients but also myself, you have seen how users can improve themselves as people – on Facebook and in the real world. So please, learn this ‘Guide To Being Good At Facebook’ and get your friends to learn it aswell. Maybe. Just maybe one day we will all be Obamas.

I have been Ryan Millward (Facebook theorist). God speed.

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Special thanks go to Ciaran Hamill, Paul Howkins, Kieran Cullen, Kieran Hartley, Billie Jay-Gurney, Emma Horton, Abdul Almajdub, Lauren Downing, Josh Knight, Bobbie Hall, Katie Singleton, Blake Carr, George Adams and Sam Lucas.

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Part Four of my guide ‘How to be good at Facebook’.


Picture Likes

Likes. As I’ve explained they are a fickle operation; hinging so much on a raging whirlpool of post-modern factors from the society in which you operate in, who knows when the next one will come your way! Whenever you are on Facebook developing your identity you are fighting in the election to be an Obama or a McCain. So then, what happens when one logs off and leaves the wrestling ring? Is that your responsibility for your Facebook identity at rest? You have nothing to worry about walking around in the real world, conversing physically with real people and actually being yourself – right? Wrong I’m afraid. You have learnt a lot so far but prepare to be catapulted deeper into the neon wilderness of the Internet.

The unknown fact is that a ‘Like’ is available anywhere; they are all around the very air you breathe, the space in which you trudge in and the distance is which you gaze. Look behind you now – there are hoards of potential likes floating around you this very second! The reason why you ask? Well this idea, this crucial factor to your Facebook popularity, all comes down to the historic invention of the camera. The camera is a device that was invented way back in the 19th century – before Facebook, even before MySpace! The way in which it operates is that it takes the image viewable through it’s lens and copies it to physical form; in such vast amounts of people, i.e. your Facebook audience, will be able to see this one image that was made viewable through the eyes of the camera. Being students of Facebook, I’m sure you will be well aware that such images are transferrable to your Facebook accounts as well as the whole website in general. And we all know what that means. As soon as someone fires off that camera at you and uploads it’s picture onto Facebook – well, you are very much back in the arena with those hoards of users pointing their ‘like guns’ at you. ‘Picture’ the scene- you’re sitting down with a nice cup of coffee and then boom, someone takes a picture, uploads it and pretty soon you have your whole social networking audience deciding whether or not to hand you a ‘Like’.

You might have asked to go back into the arena; you may have been speared back in with a surprise picture being taken – the fact is once it’s on Facebook, the picture is universal; copyrighted to everyone – especially Mark. Here is an example below of me, your teacher, being unaware of a photo being taken.

As you can very well see, I was none the wiser that this photo, this ground for people to judge my Facebook identity, was being taken and then distributed across a social networking audience. One minute I was in the real world just peacefully about to go to the toilet and then boom, I’m thrown back into the social networking wrestling ring. It just goes to show that one must consider that there are likes all around the air that surrounds them. Luckily for me there was a solid amount of likes in the space the image filled; it retrieved 18 likes in fact! (See below) The reason why? Well, I am about to explain later on.

The first thing to do is to separate the Adams from the Eves; yes it’s time to check what gender god has dropped you in. For you see, a ‘Like’ for a Facebook picture is all highly relative to whether you are female or male. There are different sets of rules, different strategies and game plans – you are in a different election all together! Follow me now where I will begin with the Eves of Facebook and how they become ‘like literate’ on pictures on Facebook.

How Girls Get Picture Likes

The first thing I will ask you to study are these images below.

A rare case of exponential likes (see bottom of page)

As you can see they have all had an extraordinary amount of likes distributed to the profiles of each subject within picture – this is called the page 3 effect. It seems these Obama’s very much had likes all around the space in which they stood. But why? Believe me; I’ve studied long and hard and decided that it’s not down to the quality of the picture; depth of field, composition, colour balance – some of this is relevant to increase the subjects appearance but it comes solidly down to an idea I am introducing called: “Tits or GTFO”. What do I mean by this you ask? Well if these Eves of Facebook are supplying pictures where they connote the notions of being attractive or ‘Fit’ (a derogative post-modern term for being of attraction to the other gender) then they will get large amount of likes which, again, can be cut into two – male likes and female likes.

One might automatically assume that the solid percentage of likes injected into the pictures would be highly representative of the male users throughout their audience. However, if one studies more carefully and monitors the likes, we soon realise that a large percentage of females are also each handing a ‘Like’ to the subject of discussion. This comes back to the last post where we discussed the notion of: you scratch my back I scratch yours. For you see, just like we need to feel comfortable with our Facebook profiles – girls also need to feel comfortable in the physical skin they actually live in. Therefore, for every ‘Like’ they distribute to a fellow Eves picture, they expect the ‘Like’ to be returned later on in their own pictures – thus the cycle begins to turn and operate in which every girl feels more confident and attractive to the world sat watching before them.

Male likes is simple however, the large majority of males liking females pictures want physical relations outside of the Internet to occur. That’s that.

So, I’ve established that if you are a girl and you want picture likes, then do your all mighty best to look as good as possible when that camera flashes and you step out of reality and back into the Facebook arena. But what, I hear a bunch of angry girls say, what can a girl do if she is not talented in the art of actually looking good? Well there are many treatments that can help treat your illness that threatens to steal likes off your account; the first is to hire a good photographer – the camera never lies, right? Wrong again; a skilled photographer will help even the Susan Boyles look a little Cheryl Cole; it’s just all down to those photography effects that I’m told you learn in A level photography. The second solution is to lie. Well, not lie but be skilled on the platform of PhotoShop – a piece of software that allows you to bend curves, brighten skin and increase your art of “Tits of GTFO”. Follow this advice all you Eves out there and you will soon be encumbered with a large payment of likes.

How Males Get Picture Likes

Males. We all love a laugh don’t we. Lets begin to look at the history of comedians; from Richard Pryor and Billy Connelly to Peter Kay and Lee Evans, all the best comedians of the human race have been Adams and not Eves (Miranda? exactly) – in such the male gender is expected to convey this sense of humour in everything they do. And no more so than on Facebook. For you see, a different set of principles guides the Adams of social networking toward gaining a picture ‘Like’. Unlike the Eves, other males can’t give each other likes for pictures in which a subject tries to look good. But alas, surely the girls will be able to distribute likes to their accounts by approving of their photos? Well, no, not really. Female Facebook users don’t distribute likes in the arena so easily when it comes to photos – why should they be chasing boys when the boys are already chasing them? In such, the only option is to draw back to what I just mentioned; we have to sweat hard to earn our likes by being funny in photos. Have a look at these images below.

Perhaps the most famous male example

If you managed to look at those images without so much of a small smirk on your face, then well, lighten up a bit. It’s quite clear they are all humorous images captured by the 19th century device. No one recognises this more than each subjects Facebook audience who in their numbers have made payment of a ‘Like’ to each picture. The first picture, for example, relies heavily on the ‘LAD’ component that subversively mocks the drinking culture. The second image is pure slapstick comedy dating back hundreds of years to when people used to have pies thrown in their face for humour – its similar now, just with more modern replacements such as Rice Krispies. The third is purely shock humour value that a user would not usually expect to see (you may need to zoom in). The fourth is such a bizarre juxaposition of images evoking a lava pool of likes with it’s straight forward laughable content. This therefore goes to show how the Adams of Facebook have to adapt and become comedians in which to hoover up those precious likes from their audience.

The different set of rules between the boys and girls still remain though; just look what happens when a male tries to look attractive in a picture to get likes off those female users.

As you can see, only one ‘Like’ has been retrieved. So therefore males, stick to what you are best at – being humorous in photos. Girls however; stick to what you are best at too – looking and/or trying to be attractive in photos. The rules are simple. I hope you follow them in your pursuit of climbing the ‘like ladder’ and becoming those Obamas you were so very much born to be! Just remember that potential likes, are all around you, in the very space you walk in; its just up to you to take the camera device and transfer them to Facebook!

Please join me next time in the fifth and final part where I will be drawing this guide to it’s end by discussing where exactly we stand as human beings once we have retrieved the likes we set out to conquer. Until then, practice your skills and keep honing your Obama technique!

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The exponential effectExtremely rare, the exponential effect is when users keep giving out likes on a particular photo or status just for the aesthetic value of seeing so many likes on one thing. No one wants to miss out, so they like it too – it’s sort of like signing your name on a piece of social networking history. Interesting stuff.

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Part Three of my guide ‘How to be good at Facebook’.


What is the value of an individual like?

Hopefully you’ve had time to practice what you learnt in the last post, all the while honing your skills and ‘Like’ trade. I however have been culminating a series of ideas revolving around the popularity value of a ‘Like’. OK – maybe you are a skilled learner, took what I had to say and distributed the like cookies into a variety of statuses and/or comments; you’ve achieved, say, double figures a couple of times and have been left with an enormous sense of self satisfaction upon your 21st century face. But slow down Obama before you take the next step and get all Martin Luther King on us! I have news – some likes are worth more than others! Yes, you heard it here – Just like a signed photo of a celebrity or a successful job application, some likes have more cause to rejoice over than other likes. Obviously without having to explain that your own ‘Like’ is worth nothing, I will press on to the value of other people’s likes.

It’s not a perfect world I’m afraid. Some people are riddled with diseases such as HIV, Cancer and Malaria: all the while there is an increasing, vast amount of mental problems being reported all across countries throughout the world. New diseases are forming all the god damn time and it bloody brings a tear to my pixelated eye. And next up to come trudging out of this wilderness of sickness is a new beast – TLS. Tourettes Like Syndrome. It has been spreading like wild fire in the past few years as some post-modern users find themselves unable to express themselves in real life; as such they are left shell-shocked, merely tapping that magic blue button in the hope that someone actually starts a conversation with them. It’s a sad sight to see – pretty soon you will learn who they are: my professional advice is to just discard the ‘Like’ and not mention anything as to cause offence. It WILL happen though I’m afraid (see below).

One man infected by TLS

However it’s not all bad news! Just as some likes are worth less than average, others are worth more than the average! Like all things in society, Facebook has a hierarchy of users – hopefully soon following this research you will be heading to the top but for now lets say for scholarly purposes that you are somewhere in mid table. It’s been a good season but it’s never quite looked like taking off. To get up there amongst the big dogs you have to start taking some likes off those greyhounds and wolves. They are like anchors – once someone with a high amount of respect on Facebook hands you a ‘Like’, they are effectively saying come and join me in my like fountain. Trust me – once you’ve perfected your skills enough to gather these high profile likes, take note and carry on with what you’re doing to climb the ladder and join those ‘Like’ kings in their fountains with their hoards of worshippers sat before them.

There is even more to take into account than this however! Yes this Facebook business is complicated unlike that twitter site. You’ve got 20 likes. Some of them from the high flyers. Congratulations. However before you get too carried away cross your eyes to the left hand side of your profile screen; oh – you have 2000 friends. Fundamentally the more friends you have, the more likely you are to get given a ‘Like’; it’s just statistics and odds. So with this very thought reverberating around your information overloaded mind, take time to consider the friend to like ratio proportion of your status or comment. Here I bring forward an anonymous guest speaker and contributor to bring forward the model and theory of this very discussion using the timeless case study of Mr K Cullen.

“Like Per Friend Ratio and The Rise of the Kieran Cullen effect.”

In this social networking world of Facebook there are rules and logistics. Generally, the more agreeable the status update, the more likes it will gather. However, there are cases where this rule does not always apply, usually when a subject has an extraordinary or falsely inflated number of Facebook friends (such as in the case of local club promoters – see below). I am about to explain in the most simplistic way how to distinguish between the Obamas and the McCains, and to make sure you don’t waste your precious likes on false egos.

If we take a look below at the case of a recent post by Kieran Cullen, we can see he has used one of the best methods to draw those likes from the public, a controversial statement. By singling out a group of people and calling them unfortunate, Kieran gains likes from the insecure crowd who do not want to be associated with such unfortunate people. In total he gains 16 likes.

However, to stop the disproportionate representations we experience from the ‘status likes/total friend effect’, the golden rule is to find the number of likes as a percentage of the total friends on Facebook. This is called the like per friend ratio.
Here Kieran got 16 likes, which considering he has 2241 friends means that his like per friend ratio for the status was 0.7%. Not too impressive anymore hey folks.

If we now re-analyse a previous example from the diary, Mr C Hamill shows us that he has what it takes to post a status that gathers almost 40 likes.

What’s even more impressive is that the subject in question has only 596 friends on Facebook, meaning that he has gathered likes from a whopping 6.5% of his total facebook friends. As you can all tell, C Hamill’s like per friend ratio of 6.5% is almost 10 times better than K Cullens 0.7%. (Remember you always compare the like per friend ratio rather than just the likes.) Hopefully you are now skilled in the art of telling the real Obamas from the John Mccains. I bid thee farewell.

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This model is obviously very poignant and relevant to us scholars and theorists of Facebook – it is also technically true; no user can argue that the less friends someone has, the more impressive a solid amount of likes is. It comes straight back to the first question – ‘Are some likes worth more than others?’ – well if you and someone with more friends have each retrieved a ‘Like’ – then your ‘Like’ is worth more. Got that? Stick with me now as I press on to how to establish your clients and customers.

Establishing audiences

The first thing to remember is that you can’t keep expecting to be hoovering up those likes from the Facebook floor – to get a little in this life, you have to give a little out. In such the theory is simple – the more people’s statuses you like, the more they will return that scratch on the back and like yours. It acts as a backup if you were. Simples.

After putting in the dirty work from time to time you can then focus on aiming specific statuses at specific audiences; the case study audience I will use here is males. Of course it is helpful to target this audience if you are a girl with a working pair of breasts who has lots of male friends (see below)

(please note all 11 likes were male)

But also it is possible for men to aim their statuses at a target audience of males aswell. Here is the flip side example of a male user calling out for the same established audience of males to hand over them likes to his piece of social commentary (see post 2).

(please note 18 out of 19 likes were male)

The fact that 29 likes out of 30 were males across both statuses show that these Obamas have tried the audience connection card before.

Maintaining audiences

Alas we are finally working our way to the top of the social ladder! Not only have you been following the studies and advice brought forward in this blog, you have also been experimenting and finding your very own Facebook voice. You’ve got likes falling out your pocket! People are actually starting to converse with you in real life following the posts you’ve made on Facebook! However one must remain calm and remember that the key to a successful business is to manage your relationship with your customers; quite simply if you are not supplying them with material and reason to hand out likes, then you just aren’t going to stay at the top of the ‘like ladder’. Did you know that Coca Cola once stopped advertising for a month and their sales dropped 7%? Enough of that anyway.

The users who you have retrieved likes from in the past, are all part of your fan base; sat there waiting and scratching themselves, they are are eager to see what like cookies you are going to feed them next. To stop yourself going all John McCain, you have to keep the supply and demand of those like cookies and give them out consistently. My subject of discussion here has been brought forward from earlier: It is Mr P Howkins again. Every week a club night operates in the local night life called ‘Colly Monday’: well known and enjoyed throughout Paul’s list of friends, he knows that statuses about this event will hoover up likes amongst his target audience. In fact, he goes so often that he finds the same fan base liking a good majority of his posts. Have a look at these examples below:

They are all regarding said event – Colly Monday, and by looking through who has each handed him a ‘Like’, it is apparent that many of his customers are returning week by week to hear about these drunken Colly antics. In such, he has found his target audience and is now regularly reaping the rewards off his loyal customers.

Closing comments

If you can take the time to learn these important issues of Facebook you will soon be finding and maintaining new audiences whilst climbing the holy ground that is the ‘like ladder’. Join those greyhounds and wolves at the top I say! And join me next time in part 4 where I will be evaluating what exactly picture likes mean by analysing the different sets of genders on Facebook! I will now leave you with the answer to the age old question:

“Do Frape likes belong to the Frapee or Fraper?”

The picture above says it all; high number of likes have been distributed to the Facebook account of Mr A Almajdub. Originally believed to be his own work, the status was in actual fact part of the new Frape phenomenon that has been established in Universities around England. When this was found out the question the public wanted answered were who do the likes belong to?! Is it a paradox? If a ‘Like’ represents acceptance into society, who has been accepted? The Frapee or the Fraper? The answer to this is complex. The reason people may have distributed the likes to this account could have been on the past relationships Mr A Almajdub had created with his Facebook customers (as discussed above with Mr P Howkins). However the content of the status, i.e. the words used, are 100% copyright to the Fraper. In such, with these two factors clashing together momentously we are left with the only fair outcome to distribute the likes equally to both parties involved. Therefore the 35 likes must be split into slices of 17 and 18 – then the Frapee and the Fraper must come to agreement of who takes what slice. If a decision can’t be reached the courts will be at the disposal of both clients. I hope a democratic outcome can be reached in tricky situations like this.

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Part Two of my guide of ‘How to be good at Facebook’.


As far as I see it there are two types of Facebookers in this world; those Obamas out there who connect with the masses by yielding an intelligent selection of statuses and comments on supply and demand. Then there are those John McCains out there who post non worthy efforts to the point where people can’t physically lift their arms to press that magic blue button. Facebook is now a fully working shiny mirror on society; the quality of your Facebook identity reflects the quality and value of you as an empowered human being: I’m sorry but that’s just the way things have turned out. Thus it is important to make sure you are an Obama of the social networking age and not someone who is forgotten about straight after the election. Luckily for you there are certain genres, themes and attributes of comments/statuses that magnet likes off your Facebook audience: through intense research and ethnography I have drawn out a series of ‘like cookies’ that you can incorporate into your vital posts. Please take your time to read them carefully below.

Original Social Commentary

Blah blah blah – there she is again: Mrs John McCain distributing another Facebook status about her bus journey or what time she has to stumble to work. We all know one of these people. Quite simply, and to put it bluntly, no one cares! We have heard these types of things hundreds of times before and I’m sure we will have to suffer them a few more times in the future. Don’t become this person – in this world it is recognised that people crave originality and something new; so if you’re going to say something about the world make sure it’s original and witty – hell if you can, try and even achieve some groundbreaking social commentary (although this may require inspiration at the best of times). If you have thought up an original and witty piece of social commentary – post it! Make sure it resonates with that audience sat intrigued before you with their ‘Like’ buttons ready to fire. Here is an example of an original social commentary cookie below. The subject of study is Mr C Hamill – a 19 year old male from the city of Coventry, England.

As you can see, this status has retrieved in excess of 39 likes, all distributed over a period of three or four hours. The reason why? Simply what I put above; it’s not generic and it’s not boring – it’s a original piece of social commentary that combines the witty and relevance of the words with criticizing a popular well known event that is suspect to much ridicule. What would Jesus do indeed. Next up is the ‘major life event cookie’.

The Big Life Event

Despite the amount of rapists, muggers, murderers and John McCains in this world, there still remains a large amount of kind hearted people out there who genuinely do like when someone achieves something in life. This can be either getting into university, getting in a relationship, getting a job, or winning a game or competition. Make no mistake about it though – the big whopper is most definitely passing your driving test; if this ever happens to you make sure you use large capital letters and exclamation marks to convey your happiness and for god sake make sure you don’t ruin your big moment with bad spelling and grammar! Successfully written, you should see your status reach double figures in no more than 20 minutes Facebook time. Here is an example below.

Not Taking Yourself Seriously

The next cookie to be located is the ‘Taking the piss out yourself cookie’. Deployed by many people commonly, it is seen to encode a message of not taking yourself seriously and just having a laugh in life – which, as we all know by watching famous comedians mock themselves, is sure to be of likeable quality to your Facebook audience. My subject of study towards this area of research is Mr P Howkins who was born 2008 in Facebook time. A descendent of Myspace, he has regularly posted statuses since his high profile move to Facebook; the more he has posted, the more he has refined and carved his craft of gaining likes by using the ‘Taking the piss out yourself cookie’. Look at the example below.

As you can see his lexical choice to use words such as ‘Loser’, ‘Drinking’, ‘Poor’ and ‘Retarded’ whilst mocking himself have enabled him to gather and collect 16 easy likes. Child’s play. We will return to Paul later in our research.

Spectacle

The next cookie up is the ‘spectacle cookie’; this derived from the theory of post-modernism where essentially everything in the world has lost it’s meaning as science has caused as much bad as good and cultural boundaries have collapsed meaning people have realised not everyone thinks the same – we are now all interconnected and anything goes for this brief moment of time where the world has no narrative. Because of this, we are able to sit back and write literally anything we want to; hell, this very blog itself is post-modern. What’s useful to us is the fact that shocking and post-modern comments have a tendency to also retrieve a respectable amount of likes. Have a look of the example of me, myself, Mr R Millward below.

I probably should be arrested. The social networking police came round they did: barged through the door shouting, about to slap the cuffs on me when they turned their heads to see what else, but, 14 likes sat neatly on my comment confirming that the Facebook audience found my spectacle text to be of ‘Like’ness to them. They slapped off the cuffs immediately and apologised whilst promising to each hand me a ‘Like’ when they got back to their office computers.

There are others you will learn about as you go through your Facebook Obama journey but this path right here is a great starting point. These are the core cookies you can add to your Facebook identity recipe in your pursuit of becoming an Obama. It is also worth noting that real time media issues such as a status about X factor whilst it is on will help support you on your way to double figures if you deploy it at just the right time. If you manage to have a status that covers multiple of these holy grounds then you may well find yourself sailing through the double figures with a new found sense of satisfaction sat upon your big face-book.

Stick with me until next time when I draw up some audience research! I will be developing my friend to like ratio model and also discussing some of the biggest new questions of society such as: ‘Are some likes worth more than others?’ and ‘If a Frape occurs – who do the likes belong to: the Frapee or the Fraper? (M, Hunt 2011).

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Part One of my guide ‘How to be good at Facebook’.


Welcome

The word ‘like’ is now a noun. Yeah Mark, you’ve changed the way we communicate and now you are changing the English language. Of course you are probably wondering what I mean by such a bizarre sentence but cast your blurry eyes back to your computer or mobile screen. Facebook. It is the very pioneering force behind our relationships with each other in this post-modern world. So what does a ‘Like’ represent I hear you ask. Once a process or an application, the word was seen as reflecting someone’s apparent acceptance or enjoyment of something. It still means that now but the word ‘Like’ is no longer a literal word floating about in the air – it has now landed; it’s a physical thing, an object, here to have and to hold as a weapon of popularity in our age of mass society.

Denotatively it is just a click of a little blue button on a social networking site. Just some colour pixels on your computer screen. However it connotates so much more than that; that shiny notification in your top left hand corner informing you of an incoming ‘Like’ says that someone, out there, has gone to the physical effort of clicking that button just to let you know they approve and enjoy what you are saying. And what could be more rewarding than that? It’s as real as any form of acceptance in bygone eras; whether being patted on the back, brought a drink or welcomed into a group of people – you are all of these and more when someone hits that magic blue button. So when you see this event occur sing hallelujah and rejoice for you, now, are a likeable person!

Of course one doesn’t automatically retain the right for people to ‘Like’ what you say on Facebook – it has to be earned through blood, sweat and tears. It’s a common sense fact now that to retrieve some likes, what is actually being said has to be of likeable quality – thus a status or a comment on Facebook needs to have a strategy and game plan behind it. Maybe you’re going after likes consciously, maybe you are just putting what floats into your media saturated head; all that matters is that ‘Likes’ are not free – they are earned. Earned just as much as a worker earns his money or a sportsmen earns his trophy. Stick with me now as I evaluate and discuss how to become ‘like literate’ on the platform of popularity that is Facebook.

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