N. P. Ryan vs. Social Media Part II

Despite making a couple of recent posts, including Part 1 to this, Facebook gallantly pesters on, and like a proper bastard too!

They made absolutely no difference to its usual taunting question ‘people haven’t heard from you in a while, why don’t make a post?’ – it’s still flipping there! Only now, it goads some more by letting me know the exact number of people they reached, while offering to ‘boost’ them so they reach more.

All for a small fee of course.

What does Facebook mean by ‘boosted to’ and people ‘reached’ anyway?

If the first is anything like the unsolicited posts from unknown pages popping up in my feed trying to sell something or other, I’ve no intention of inflicting on others what irritates the Hell out of me; especially as nothing on offer is ever of any interest, something both adding to the irritation while also showing Facebook targeting to not be all that accurate.

‘Carelessly scrolled past’ could be the reality of the second. After all, at the other end of things where it really matters I get told the exact number of visits, so know exactly how those ‘reached’ match-up with those ‘visiting’ on any given date (about as well as the Chuckle Brothers and the Williams sisters would if they ever got together for a game of un-mixed doubles).


Their catchphrase of ‘to me, to you; to me, to you’ might make it sound like the Chuckle Brothers are wizard tennis players, but you don’t have to be a magician to know they’d stand absolutely no chance against the Williams sisters even if playing either of them alone.

What even is ‘Facebook’?

Many people are quick to dismiss it. One member of my family even went to so far as to claim it the work of Satan until a friend uploaded some pics there that they wanted to see; given the choice of getting a look quick sharp or waiting until they saw the person, they fast went the way of the Devil.

Not liking it is one thing. Failing to realise Facebook’s worldwide importance, though, is a bit like still refusing to understand Evolution.

The beginnings can be seen back in 2010, when Nigeria’s then President Goodluck Jonathan ended months of speculation about whether he would contest upcoming elections by confirming he would in a Facebook post.

The press had to ask officials to confirm its validity; this BBC article focuses as much, if not more, on the decision to do it that way than the connotations of what the post said.

They even try and give the whole thing a higher credibility by using terms like ‘announcement’ and ‘statement’ blissfully unaware of how the still-relatively-new-and-seemingly-harmless social media post was about to pull the rug on their need to be in the news-giving equation.

Roll onto 2017 and screenshots of social media updates from Potus are regular media fodder without the slightest concern for who actually made the Tweet, while Facebook is currently in the news in relation to Russians potentially manipulating the platform to make the current incumbent exactly that.

It isn’t limited to politics, either – in October Israeli police arrested a Palestinian after the Facebook auto translator incorrectly translated a post of ‘good morning’ as ‘attack them’.

Please allow me to get something a little bit awkward out of the way :/

There are thousands of pages all over Facebook for fans of this and/or that all of which exist in absolutely no official capacity at all.

Along the way most of us have done it: liked a page on Facebook that some random individual who just happens to like something the same as us decided for whatever reason to create and then post from. In fact, we have so little actual knowledge of the page starter, we only assume they also like what the page is about.

It’s the kinda thing we tell children to never do – like taking candy from a stranger, only it ain’t Halloween and we ain’t checking for needles and tampered with wrappers n’ shit (like anyone actually does when it’s Halloween, anyway).

Recently I started following a page for Alan Partridge fans. In being just one persona of comedian Steve Coogan, the page is by-definition severely limited in what it can justifiably post. There’s a fair chance you don’t know who Coogan is, let alone Partridge. There’s a link below in case you fancy getting clued-up, but if you don’t it doesn’t matter; it’s the page’s posts not about Alan that are relevant.

Zombie Alan = Classic Partridge:

In my defence, one does take a certain superiority from not going out of the way to find the page; instead only liking after it repeatedly appeared in my feed thanks to friends frequently doing likewise to things it posted. But popping any pomp before it gets too full of itself: coming to like it that way shows the ‘formula’ explained in Part 1 at work and me to be a manipulated goof.

And things only get worse for circumstance from there; it’s not like it was posting anything I couldn’t go find on You Tube myself. There was no insider angle, nothing never seen anywhere else before – not even someone hilariously brilliant at impersonating Partridge pulling the strings to cast an Alan-esque view on current affairs.

But apparently, instead of looking things up for myself anytime I fancy a quick fix of Norfolk’s finest, I prefer to let some random interject whatever they see fit into my feed whenever they feel like it and Facebook decides to show it to me.

Making it even more bizarre, much of what’s posted has nothing to do with Alan at all.


True, Partridge might not be the best known comedy persona on the planet. But to know Alan is to love Alan, and adoration for him is stronger than any idol could wish for as this wonderfully tasteful tattoo only goes to show.

Credit where it’s due, the page doesn’t fly too far from the pear tree – always remaining perched somewhere in the jolly forest of comedy. But that slight deviation from Alan’s wood is enough to get the page plenty of ‘stop getting Partridge wrong’ comments.

And, imo, quite rightly too – it’s a page for Alan Partridge fans, not and/or other snippets of comedy; a name that would be much more appropriate given a large proportion of off-Partridge posts are shared direct from a page for British comedy fans.

Apparently it’s never occurred to the person behind the Alan page that people would like the British comedy page if that’s what they wanted to see in their feed. Or has it? After all, why would someone start a page with such a restrictive name only to then post things loosely related to it, especially as it gets grief every time it does?

For that matter, why don’t those irritated by the non-Alan posts simply unlike the page, maybe even go look for another or even start one of their own?

The only thing for sure: the page is guaranteed a shit-load of comments like the one below any time it goes off-Partridge.


One slight detour in particular turned out to be reaction-getting gold.

The page returns to it as often as it reasonably can. Which is a lot more than can be said for a certain atheist page that, on discovering a particular quote from complete-buffoon-yet-scientist-nonetheless-so-not-to-be-completely-sniffed-at Richard Dawkins polarised its followers into a slew of back and forth divisive comments, simply started regurgitating the same meme on a regular basis without any thought or care for context.


Ask Richard to scientifically quantify that statement and . . . (though he’s a long way from alone in such single-minded absolutism – see below). 

While the Partridge page might look for a new a new angle or third-party post on the subject, the division invoked is always just as deep. On the question of ‘what constitutes comedy in the first place?’ the philosophical nature of the internet equates to numerous angry statements that some things categorically are not.

An interesting concept, me thinks – comedy being absolute. Surely if someone laughs at it, it’s comedy? Yes, it might be in poor taste or childish or vulgar, but if someone laughs, there’s no denying it’s been found funny.

Surely no one in their right mind would suggest everyone has to laugh at something for it to be comedy. Yet . . . post a link to an article about Mrs Browns’ Boys being voted best comedy of the 21st Century – BOOM! social media gun powder.

Knowing what Mrs Browns’ Boys is like is neither here nor there to the fact some people like it while others hate it with such vehement passion they are probably now being monitored by some secret government department that created the show in the first place just to lure such excitable types out into the open for monitoring.

Those repulsed at the idea of something they don’t like being thought of as good by others have come up with all sorts of bizarre and chimp-like activities in cheap attempt to justify their morally unsustainable positions; these range from accusing those who like it of only being within a certain age group and/or asserting that ‘these people are definitely the ***** who voted Brexit’ as a stereotypical quote might go.

Personally, it’s presented the occasional guffaw and more than a couple of hearty hoots, but it is a refined humour; deep in philosophic wit and intelligence while lavished with a brusque exterior for an extra layer of droll, so it surprises me not in the least many would see this and not laugh in the slightest.

The motives of the page creator could be asinine as getting a kick out of winding people up while sitting in a dark bedroom, to luring them to an endgame malware delivery from an evil hacker lair.

It doesn’t matter. The way to draw people in (so combating the problem of obscurity) remains the same.

When reaction’s the name of the game, any worth a story might contain risks getting thrown under the bus for a hook of a headline pungent enough to ignite the attention span of the dickhead scroll-by commenters.

First rule of sales: best time to close a deal is as soon as you can get a signature on the dotted line (or as the case is here, a comment in a box).

Having an inflammable substance like gluten just lying about is an absolute Heaven Send for anyone wanting to create a social media firestorm. A headline like ‘Gluten Intolerance Not Real, says Doctor’ will have numerous people chomping at the bit to comment and share in further perceived victory over arch nemesis Pussy Liberal (the snowflake that somehow also manages to pose the greatest threat).

The article won’t actually be read by these commenters. Neither will much attention be paid to the fact it says doctor not doctors or for that matter not scientists; neither does it mention what kind of doctor and so on. The fact such a state of always angriness is very possibly a result of gluten intolerance is no doubt also lost on them too.

‘Doctor Suggests Gluten Intolerance Requires Second Catalyst’ could be more accurate for the story, only it won’t illicit quite the same reaction – the article would have to be read to know what is meant and scroll-by comment leavers don’t work like that as well the headline writers know.

As example: when I searched ‘mrs browns boys voted most popular comedy programmeI didn’t see a single headline containing the source of that decision.

So, just who or what exactly was behind such a grand declaration about what can be considered the greatest of something so subjective – some government and greats-of-comedy selected committee that conducted years of dedicated, precious research, reasoning and study to allow such a precocious result?

It’s not until the body of stories that the source is revealed as the Radio Timesthe Radio flipping Times!!!

And according to this particular article in so-called upper-brow rag The Independent – a grand total of, wait for it . . . 14,000 people took part in the poll (though it also says 20th Century, not 21st – so who knows with these guys).

If the headlines had run something like ‘Radio Times Poll of 14,000 People Says…’ how many people do you think would’ve read on or even that far?

The only fact of the ‘story’ was the most likely thing to switch people off of it.

As for the headlines used, the controversy they caused went far beyond Alan’s page. So much so, Metro decided it was worthy enough of a news story in its own right.

In Part 3: An Important Message about Child Snatching Gangs Lurking in IKEAS!!!


Due to none of the images used in relation to the subject making good headers, this post comes with a bonus pic of a cute cat!

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