Friday, March 29, 2013

Facebook - Land of TOAPs

English: Albert Einstein Français : Portrait d...
Albert Einstein - inventor of Angry Birds.

Some time ago there was a social networking site called MySpace which seemed to exist primarily for younger teenage girls to show off duckface photographs of themselves and to allow wannabe stadium rock bands to beg for your custom from the security of their manager’s office.  Their mum’s living room that is.

MySpace eventually drowned beneath the combined weight of glittery faery gifs and pointless TOAPs. TOAP ? Text On A Picture, or Text On A Photo.  TOAPs became to MySpace users what Panini trading cards were to young boys, exciting and shiny, something to show off instantly to your mates.

But TOAPs are more insidious than that.  People on Facebook are lazy.  Not all of you I understand, some of you are fine and upstanding individuals possessed of sound and inquiring minds, the sort of people who want to know the reason behind the story and not just the story itself.  Sadly, most Facebook users are not like this.

It seems that if you add text to a picture and promulgate it via your newsfeed, then you pass off any old bullshit as actual facts.  Add any written garbage to a picture of Albert Einstein looking studious and people will believe than Einstein said it.

 “I truly believe that Justin Bieber is the future of popular music” – Albert Einstein.

I am not immune to charm of TOAPs myself, my newsfeed has a photograph of Martin Luther King holding up a shiny fish and expressing the sentiment “I have a bream.” This tickled my fancy so much I thought it was worth sharing with the wider on-line community.

American with no sense of irony.

This sort of thing isn’t so bad, but the sort of people who might be taken in by lightweight humour on Facebook also seem prone to believing anything else written in TOAP form with the worst offenders being the base and ill-informed pictures used to express anti-immigrantion feelings.  Often these memes play off immigrants against someone who perceived to be a valued part of the home community that suffers directly because of immigration. “Thousands of illegal immigrants get council houses but this disabled soldier can’t get a wheelchair.”  Now we have also crossed over into the world of Daily Mail / Express headline writing.

To simple folk, or just to lazy people, it is easy to equate one thing with another.  Can’t get an appointment at the surgery this morning ? It must be full of illegal immigrants. Can’t get a job ? Hungarian ex-pats have stolen them all.  Tube train full of people who don’t speak English ? Illegal immigrants, they cannot possibly be on holiday here.  Can’t get educated enough to seek out the truth behind a TOAP ? You’re too lazy and stupid to use Facebook, please close your account immediately.

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