January 30, 2013

Ten Things People Do on the Internet Which Need a Reality Check and Other Follies

It's been a funny old week for me on the internet (and in real life) so I thought I'd share a few random things which have been amusing me. With this nasty, rainy weather outside, we could all do with a bit of cheering up, right? Just leave it to me to spread more mirth, merriment and downright hatred with yet another controversial blog post. Enjoy!

1. Capitalising Every Letter At The Start Of A Blog Post Even When It Doesn't Work Grammatically.

Don't you just hate that? The rule has always been that the words "and", "to", "from", "or", "nor", "the", "an", "a", etc. in the middle of a heading are supposed to begin with lower case letters not upper case ones. I suppose it's better than PeOpLe wHo TyPe lIkE tHiS but not by much.

I also loathe really long blog post titles which take up half my Blogroll. Seriously, if you want to title your post "All the things I did on holiday in Marbella where I went with my mum and dad who got sunburnt and stayed in a chalet by the beach", get a grip!

Don't even get me started on the people who think it's really clever to title their blogs as "[center]Horror Movie Reviews | Games | Books | Music | All things about zombies | Little Cakes | Wicca | Furry Things | Bronies | Horror Rules Okay![/center]" I spend ages deleting all that crap from my Blogroll and then retitling everyone's blogs with all the spelling mistakes and non-functional HTML tags fixed anyway.

2. I'll teach you a lesson, I'll unfollow you... so there!

This one has to be the funniest trend on all the social networks and even Blogger (which is just a glorified MySpace after all).

Over the years, I think I've been unfollowed by as many people as have followed me, and I've unfollowed probably four times that number myself just because I grew out of certain cliques or no longer shared the same interests as former "internet friends". I've blocked and ignored quite a few too. But, I can honestly say that I've never unfollowed someone out of a sense of "I'll show you how much I hate you by unfollowing you!"

How does that work exactly? You hate somebody so much that you unfollow them then continue to kite over their social networking profiles to see what they are saying so that you can whinge about it on your own status updates which the person in question doesn't even read?! Trust me, once I unfollow somebody, it's a case of "out of sight, out of mind". I couldn't care less if the unfollowed are calling me the next Adolf Hitler or worse on their own blogs for all the good that it will do them. I certainly don't lose any followers or sleep through it, and there have even been times when I've gained followers because of whingers whose readers got curious about who was being whinged about.

The same thing happens on message boards. Somebody gets the arse and thinks, "I'll leave the board and take my ball home with me so nobody else can play with it". It's petty, childish stuff, but the internet is full of petty childishness anyway. Fully grown adults are worse than real kids once allowed to hide behind the alleged safety of their keyboards.

3. The Django doll fiasco.

Have you seen the NECA Django dolls which are now banned from eBay for "racism" but are still being sold by greedy Amazon dealers for between $300-1700 each? How can a little plastic figure of a movie character be racist? Even given the nature of the movie, having watched it and reviewed it, I can't see how "Django" might encourage a return to slavery. Did any of the complainers even watch the film?

Who in their right mind complains about collectible dollies? Worse, who complains to the company trying to sell these things on the internet? What moron who ordered the stock would then withdraw the items and lose their investment? Give me a break! The only thing that's happened is that the price has been annoyingly jacked-up to extortionate levels, and some more popularity has been generated for Quentin Tarantino's movie.

Will six "action figures" (only two of which even look like the characters in the film) cause that much racism? It's not as if they come with branding irons and whips. My Broomhilda certainly didn't anyway, and I've had all her clothes off several times to check!

Banning toys won't make any difference to America's history, "white guilt", or the racism in America which is as bad today as it's always been. Doesn't Django end the film as a free man after having defeated slavery single-handedly? Or did I miss something?

This makes me wonder if Princess Leia slave girl dolls will be next in line for a banning? I hope not. I haven't bought one yet, but I have no desire to work like a slave just to be able to afford one in the future. B'dum tish!

4. The "Lamers of Horror" clique.

Have you noticed the different cliques (pronounced "cleeks" not "clicks", by the way) among horror bloggers? There are those of us with a mid-range number of GFC followers (350-450) who attract a certain more intellectual group of readers while there are others with well below 200 GFC followers who tend to attract those you can really only describe as "tasteless morons who would be better off hanging out with the scene kids on Tumblr". Of course, there are some new bloggers who simply haven't achieved any more followers in the short time they've been writing, but that's another story.

I've actually removed my Google Friend Connect widget because it doesn't fit in with how I want my blog to look, plus nobody has used it for the last year. It doesn't do what it was intended to, i.e. block undesirables, so it's a useless addition to anybody's blog if they aren't playing the popularity contest. If you must know, I ended up with 354 followers on it, but over half of them are now from dead Blogger accounts. Some people followed me then stopped writing a few months later but didn't remove their accounts. No, I know I get the blame for everything, but it wasn't my fault. Blogging simply isn't for everyone.

Anyway, I suppose you want to know about the "Lamers of Horror" clique. These are the horror bloggers who have been blogging on and off for the last three or four (or even five) years and still don't have over 200 followers. Some have less than half of that because, quite simply, they have no content on their blogs worth reading and spend all their time commenting other bloggers just to get follow/comment backs.

Their usual trick is to write "Great review!" on each other's blog posts even when the "review" isn't great or doesn't count as a review. Then the recipient is obliged to write something on the giver's latest hogwash containing more sycophantic nonsense. You'll see this quite often if you scan the comments sections of some of the poorer horror blogs out there. You'll also find it rife among fashion bloggers, photo bloggers, and any other "girlie" blogs. You won't see it on a blog like mine because I don't get a lot of that. I also periodically delete the old comments anyway.

The "Lamers of Horror" are mostly girls (or pretend girls) with maybe a few dozen infatuated guys in their clique. Naturally, they all follow each other. "Birds of a feather flock together" and all that jazz. The same avatars show up over and over again in their GFC widgets in almost the same order. Woe betide you if you annoy one of them because all their little buddies who share the same brain cell will instantly disappear from your GFC widget to "teach you a lesson". It's happened to me because I tend to piss off a lot of people. Do I care? Hell, no. Just be prepared for much laughter when it happens to you. Now you know what the phenomenon is, it's hilarious.

Another thing which highlights the "Lamers of Horror" is their appalling taste in horror movies. They invariably prefer "horror comedies" or "horror for kiddies" instead of anything with any grit to it. You won't find them praising the virtues of "The Human Centipede 2" or "A Serbian Film", but you will find them retreading the same tired old ground about "Beetlejuice", "Ghostbusters", "A Nightmare on Elm Street", or R.L. Stine's "Goosebumps" books. For some reason, I always imagine them all as looking like the "Ermagerd Gersebermps" girl but even less attractive.

"Lamers of Horror" also don't know how to write movie reviews. Perhaps they never learned how to do it in school or they are just lazy bloggers. Either way, what they do is retell the story in their own words then just add a couple of lines such as "It was a really great movie. I liked it a lot." Yeah, it makes you not want to live on this planet anymore, doesn't it?

If you find yourself caught up in the "Lamers of Horror" clique, just don't reply to them. It's more trouble than it's worth and will drag your own blog down. In the past, I've enjoyed pissing them off until they've left my GFC widget, but I'm sick and twisted that way.

5. Google Plus is shutting out people who like to use their screen names rather than real names.

This happened to me earlier this week when I got an email from Google+ telling me that their system didn't recognise "Dr Blood" as a valid name. I could either use my real name (which is hardly the internet's biggest secret but no longer leads to my blog since I've been writing under a pseudonym for the last ten years) or I could delete my account. I chose to delete my Google+ account. I never used it much and could barely understand it. All those circles and an interface that I couldn't make head nor tail of! Nope, not for me.

It was an absolute bugger trying to find the place to delete my Google+ account because they've hidden the link to do it so well. After (ironically) Googling to find out the answer, I got rid of the pointless thing once and for all while still keeping all the other Google goodies (such as this blog) intact. Be very careful what you choose to delete if you do the same thing because you might lose everything in one go.

This also brings me back to the GFC widget which Google have been phasing out ever since they removed it from third-party sites such as Wordpress early last year. Apparently, Google want everybody to use Google+ profiles for their blogs which lose all the information that you have on your Blogger ID profile. Don't do it! I did it and then had to put everything back. What a pain in the ass! There's a new "Google+ Followers" widget to replace the GFC, but it's never going to catch on. It does even less than the original GFC widget unless you want to broadcast all your fake friends to the world to make yourself look popular.

6. Little kids on the internet.

Why do parents let little kids around 10 or 11 years old use the internet? Do these kids really need porn at that age? What are they even doing on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and all the other social networking sites which used to demand that kids be at least 13 years old before they could sign up?

I'll tell you what they are doing: Trolling!

Have you ever seen the comments on YouTube (not on my account because I don't allow comments) full of swearing, grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, run on sentences without punctuation, and kids stupid enough to announce their age at the end of them? Typical example: "Hey biatch u cn just kill urself cos lyke ur jelly bro... and u dont lyke anytang cos your stoopid and Imma 12." Jesus wept!

Take your goddamned kids off the internet! Give them a plastic bag and tell them to go play in the traffic or something! Or, I don't know, why not do something constructive like spend some time with them instead of using the internet as a babysitter?

7. Little kids at horror conventions.

LOL WUT? I heard about this on a friend of mine's podcast where a woman phoned-in to say that she was so disgusted by the in-fighting among horror cliques that she would no longer be taking her 8 and 11 year old children to horror conventions! GOOD!

Why would you take kids who aren't legally old enough to watch horror movies to an indoor fleamarket full of wannabe "suicide girls" and sweaty comicbook nerds who are all drinking straight from the bottle and swearing at each other anyway? This is as bad as parents who take their squalling brats into R-rated movies to disrupt the enjoyment of the movie for everyone else.

Keep your kids at home! And "in-fighting cliques", keep on doing it! It's funny!

8. People who get butthurt over movie reviews.

This makes me laugh my arse off (not literally or figuratively as that would require hospitalisation) because it's so stupid!

Unless you made the movie in question, invested your own money in it and stand to lose revenue from a bad review, you have no reason to get so emotionally attached to a product. Movies are just products designed to make money. That's why the "entertainment industry" is also called "show business" with the clue being in the second word.

If I buy a DVD or pay for a ticket to a movie which doesn't satisfy me, I'm going to rip that movie to shreds on my blog. I paid for the right to do so in the same way that if I bought a meal and didn't like the taste of it, I'm going to have something to say about that as well.

Being British, I'm not actually much of a complainer in restaurants or stores (I'm a rather pleasant customer actually, full of "pleases" and "thank yous", and I always leave a tip), but if somebody makes a crappy movie, what do you think I'm going to say about it?

Unlike the big name sell-out sites, I'm not here to promote anything (except when I've been paid to do so, in which case you'll be as surprised as I am!) and all my reviews are 100% what I really think of the films I watch. Although I try to be objective, of course personal taste plays a part which is why I despise "hobby horror" or "backyard epics". That doesn't mean that big-budget theatrical movies get a free pass either. I'm even harder on them because they have the budgets and experience behind them to be better.

I get a lot of hate behind the scenes (on the other side of the comments form) from complete idiots who you would think made the films themselves. I rarely hear from the directors or actors, but in the past, the ones who have contacted me have agreed that what I had to say about their work was fair. One even apologised because I didn't like his film. Yeah, I felt a little bit bad, but his film made me feel worse so I didn't have any remorse for long. Still, it was nice of him to visit.

So when I hate a crappy movie, don't shoot the messenger! I paid to see it, I gave it a fair chance, but it didn't work for one reason or another. You hate me because I hate a movie? Well, I hate you because you're a dumbass. Tit for tat, baby! Feel free to unfollow me for hating your favourite movie because that'll really teach me a lesson!

If people want me to stop hating movies, they need to make some better ones.

9. The number of followers/friends/likes popularity contest and jealousy.

Here's the thing, you can have a million followers on the social networks or your blog, but unless each one is sending you a dollar every month, what good does it do you?

As I said, I have 354 followers on here (maybe more who follow in other ways or invisibly), around 758 on Twitter (although it keeps changing up and down), 312 on Facebook, and various numbers on other sites. Do they all send me money? Nope. One did, once, but as a rule, no. I'm not that popular, but within my little circle of people who I chat to regularly, I suppose I am. I know some actors, directors, and musicians both in real life and online, but that doesn't entitle me to any financial reward or "basking in their reflected glory" either. I'm just a blogger who writes for a bit of fun. So why all the jealousy?

Obviously, if you are a movie star or a pop star, the chances are that you will have several million followers who can't wait to give you all their money for your next product, but that doesn't happen for movie reviewing leeches. Yes, that's what movie reviewers and critics are: LEECHES! We're the worst kind of journalists. We don't contribute anything, we just take and regurgitate. Even the news sites only copy each other with a few words changed here and there. No matter how original your writing is, if you are reviewing a movie, the chances are that somebody else is saying exactly the same things somewhere else but with better sentence construction and more snarky jokes.

Should that make us all jealous of someone who has better writing skills? Maybe. If that jealousy spurs us on to improve our own style, it's a good thing. But this negative, hating jealousness has to stop. So what if someone has 10,000 GFC followers? It just means that they were in the right place at the right time and play the game a bit better than others. Why hate them for it?

In some cases, popular critics and reviewers deserve a certain amount of hate for spreading misinformation and for selling-out. That's understandable. But you really need a reality check if you hate somebody for having a bigger number of "pretend friends" on the internet than you do. That's like hating someone for having more cows on Farmville.

10. Social networking is useless for bloggers.

How long do you spend on Facebook, Twitter and all the other social networks each day rather than writing content for your blog? Hours and hours, probably. Do you realise how much more you could achieve by ignoring them and just blogging? Let me tell you as a person who spends days at a time on Farmville, Angry Birds, and all the other apps, plus bullshitting on Twitter, it's a lot of wasted time.

The other problem with Facebook, Twitter and, especially, Tumblr is that they've become the virtual gated communities that AOL once was. For a while it was MySpace, then it was Proboards and vBulletin sites, but things are always changing. Once somebody is on those sites, you aren't going to pry them loose very easily to look at your blog. You'll read all sorts of crap about how you need to use social networking to improve your audience, but it's a lie.

I have a Facebook page, and apart from five people, I don't think any of them have looked at my blog once. Yes, just five actually clicked the links placed on there by the NetworkedBlogs app. The other 307 (or whatever) just like the silly jokes and pictures that I post so they have something to share with their friends. They aren't going to leave Facebook for a second because it's too much fun to read all their friends complaining about their lives on their own "walls" than come to a horror movie review blog.

Twitter is just as bad. Sometimes somebody will take a quick look at where a link heads, but most of the time they won't. Again it's far more fun for them to list the #tenbiggestthingsIcangetinmymouth or wittily talk to themselves with whatever other topic is trending than leave the comfort zone of that environment.

Outside of Facebook and Twitter is a big, scary internet full of more things than LOLcats and memes, but some people just aren't very adventurous. The only way to get traffic to your blog from social networks is to give things away (which lasts for as long as the giveaway does) or sell a product regularly. If the only thing you have to "sell" is a free piece of writing, nobody wants to know.

So forget the social networks and just concentrate on filling your blog with good content if you want more readers. Fairweather followers and pretend friends who you'll never meet in real life won't do you any good.

If you've enjoyed or agree with anything I've said above, let me know in the comments below. If you disagree, I couldn't care less so please keep it to yourself. Yes, I do only want to surround myself by people who think the same way that I do. I'd be a bloody fool if I chose to surround myself with enemies and haters, wouldn't I?

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