This is a quick and casual aside as I await the more weighty matters of Pravin Gordhan’s medium-term budget policy statement at 14h00 today.
For various reasons* I attempt to keep abreast of the rapidly evolving technological and cultural aspects of what we call ‘social media’
New cultural trends drive developments in language and there are a couple of new words and usage that I found interesting enough to share here.
Recently a person I follow on Twitter (Sarah Britten who goes by the handle @ananitus – I love her stuff and follow her across several media platforms) used a hashtag to characterise the flood of criticism she got when she mentioned that she had gone to a chiropractor for relief from some or other ailment.
Most of the criticism/advice came from men and she called it (the criticism and advice) “#mansplaining’ as in: enough with the #mansplaining, I don’t need you to tell me whether alternative medicine is unscientific or illogical (that’s not a quote, I don’t have a record of the original interchange, but that is roughly how I remember it).
I immediately felt slightly embarrassed. Oops, busted. I have been patiently mansplaining to the women in in my life that their views are illogical and unscientific ever since I was a too serious boy. Hurumph Hurumph – stroke my beard, push my eyebrows together, suck on my pipe. You see Josie/Mom/darling the scientific method exposes astrology as … blah blah. Yeah, right.
A hashtag (#) is a kind of metadata tag that allows all future conversations that deal with the same topic to be grouped and therefore accessible.
Listicle is another new word (well, new to me anyway) that perfectly sums up a phenomenon to which we are all being increasingly exposed. A listicle is an article that presents itself as a list.
It can be any rubbish … just make it up. The 10 ugliest South African politicians. The five top reasons to vote/not to vote for the ANC in 2014. Seven reasons that Blade Nzimande has become a recluse (or the 50 reasons he should become a recluse). Five secrets that are keeping Zuma in power. The 10 hottest DA members of parliament. Five reasons why South Africa sucks as an investment destination. The three top reasons why Zuma’s critics should keep their tax affairs in order. Five reasons we should not listen to the rubbish spouted by political analysts. The ten least known Zuma sexual conquests. Four ANC members most likely to become president in the next 20 years.
The point that I find so interesting is that listicles are almost irresistible to your finger hovering on the mouse. Just look at The Huffington Post and you will understand just how compelling (and trashy) listicles are.
In fact listicles are so compelling that they can usefully to termed ‘click bait‘. Anyone who has ever flicked a gaudy lure in front of a fish in the hope of irresistibly drawing the fleeting piscene attention long enough to embed the hook in the creatures mouth (goodness, when I put it like that fishing sounds a faintly monstrous activity) will immediately understand what ‘click bait’ means.
I have held out against using listicles as click bait on my blog. I hope I am never reduced to heading a post with Top five political risks to investment in South Africa or 3 reasons supporting a sovereign downgrade or even Top 10 best dressed ANC NEC members. But you never know; desperate times lead to desperate measures.
*For me it’s a professional imperative: I have to get my views out there to persuade those who might want to pay for those views (supposedly delivered in more depth) that the said views might be worth paying for … so I trundle out my free-to-air discussion and curating on a range of platforms in the hope that this will generate paid work … which it generally does, btw. The two other reasons are
- posting forces me to come up with a view on the unfolding situation … I am never certain what I think about something until the moment I am forced to say to someone else what it is I think – so thanks, you are that someone else;
- keeping the blog is a way of safely storing a history of my views – this is all sitting out here in the interweb, a record of my views, safely stored away from my own lack of competence or the ill-fortune of my laptop.
- the cloud.