A torrent of furious comments flooded the Pitchfork Facebook page.
“No more crime.”
“Fight dirt and crime.”
“Live crime free,” cried the residents, who were sick of the crime spree sweeping their city. Sick of inaction. Sick of endless break-ins, vandalism, graffiti and theft – and scant arrests.
“Don’t tolerate crime any longer,” and so it continued, until the vitriol fomented into calls for action. Someone soon set a date and time to take back the streets and do what the police couldn’t or wouldn’t do. Members unleashed their despair at the regularity of the crimes, the brazen nature of the offences and the age of the perpetrators.
“Bloody kids, get away with murder…”
“I blame the schools. Too much black-armband history.”
“Not enough grammar and spelling!”
“Bring back the cane!” they ranted.
“Yeah, and too much greenwashing, nuthin’ wrong with good ol’ Chalk and Talk!”
As a teacher, Andrew was well aware of the limitations of Chalk and Talk, and he had no desire to engage with the latest social media hysteria. Nor did he need to. He heard the contorted philosophy of the Pitchfork parents through his students, and knew the vigilantes were planning to purge the city on this particular Saturday night. Thus, he locked himself in like a grumpy neighbour on Halloween.
Alas, on this night of nights, Dickens by candlelight was not enough to distract Mr Mitchell from the frenzied commotion on the street. He tiptoed through the darkness and peeled open the front door. He peered through the security grill and was summarily shocked, because he was blissfully unaware of chats that had occurred deeper inside the web since the first call to arms.
Bold claims were made, shared, liked and reposted.
“It ain’t neighbourhood watch,” they boasted, “…this is war!”
As users shared tips on acquiring actual pitchforks and other weapons, one post would dramatically change the course of the ‘street cleaning’ operation.
“Crime Busters” read the post, with a link which promised everything anyone would ever need to rid their life of crime forever. Credit cards were extracted and crypto accounts activated. Crime Busters sold out of stock in minutes.
That one comment explained Andrew’s utter disbelief as he peaked through his CrimSafe into the floodlit street.
The angry mob were rampaging through the streets, but instead of brandishing pitchforks and other weapons of war, they were armed with branded buckets, soaps, sprays, rubber gloves, brushes and assorted cleaning products.
“No more crime,” they yelled.
“Fight dirt and crime!”
“Blast away the scum”
First thing Monday morning, Jayden was summoned to the Pitch Palace at Brilliant Brands and Concepts.
“It’s a rare privilege for a junior to lead a campaign, Jayden, so tell me, have you heard of spell check?” asked his boss, in a tone reminiscent of Jayden’s high school English teachers.
The boss motioned to Jayden’s elaborate storyboards.
Rain and sunshine. Refraction of light. A pot of gold or the full spectrum of colour?
Or do you think of the LGBTQI+ community?
Many people throughout the world probably think of the LGBTQI+ community, and this is the genius of owning the rainbow. The LGBTQI+ community has appropriated this great and beloved natural wonder as its own symbol to express everything that their community represents.
The rainbow permeated the successful social media campaign which eventually legalised same-sex marriage in Australia. The campaign asked the public to do everything from contacting their local politician, to wearing rainbow coloured laces for a day, to hanging a rainbow flag out their window to show support for the cause. The campaign worked, and it was successful it could almost be taught to future activists as an example of how to harness social media for a social cause – and it was all underwritten by the rainbow motif.
How did this happen?
US artist Gilbert Baker popularised the rainbow flag as a symbol for the gay community as far back as 1978. The San Francisco artist was apparently urged to create a symbol of gay pride by Harvey Milk, one of the first openly gay elected officials in the United States.
The different colours in the rainbow flag are associated with diversity and all have distinct meanings for people within the LGBTQI+ community. While the flag itself may have evolved since 1978, it is still a famous symbol of the LGBTQI+ community and a was a stroke of marketing genius on behalf of Baker.
Interestingly, the rainbow flag was also utilised to unite people during the Reformation, as far back as 1525. It was also suggested as a symbol of the Armenian Republic movement, the Cooperative movement, the Peace movement, Indigenous rights in the Andes, Basque nationalism, Jewish Autonomous Oblast and the Patriots of Russia political party. But how many people throughout the world would associate the rainbow flag with any of these movements? And how many of those people would automatically think of the LGBTQI+ movement?
It is a stroke of marketing genius. So much so that every time many people see a rainbow, they will consciously or subconsciously associate it with the LGBTQI+ community, just as people associate a yellow M with a certain fast-food restaurant. Better still, rainbows cost nothing and are thus free advertising.
Every time a local council paints a rainbow on a public staircase, people will think LGBTQI+
Every time a local council flies rainbow flags, people will think LGBTQI+
Every time the sun shines after rain, people will think LGBTQI+
Waverley Council has paired up with Randwick Council to launch the SITTY 2 Surf initiative and guarantee uncrowded waves to the surfers of the Eastern beaches.
SITTY 2 Surf actively promotes a burgeoning trend sweeping Australia’s eastern seaboard. Beautiful young things don their favourite bikini, boardies or wetsuit, and carry their surfboard to the beach, before taking myriad selfies and posting to Snapchat, Instagram, Tik Tok or Youtube (SITTY), without ever dipping a toe in the water. SITTY Surfers merely exploit the image of surfing to attract and impress online followers.
“SITTY2Surf is an exciting initiative through which both councils will keep SITTY Surfers out of the water,” began a joint statement.
“It addresses the scourge of overcrowded waves, which is an unfortunate side-effect of living in paradise, and it works in the following way.”
“Councils have installed fibre-to-the-shore superfast broadband at surf beaches for real time uploads, encouraging SITTY Surfers to pose anywhere on the shoreline, except between the red and yellow flags. In addition, cloud seeding will ensure endless blue-sky days, and the water will be treated with a bright blue dye like the ponds at fancy golf courses, to create the ultimate backdrop.”
“Trucks will start delivering sugar-white sand from Hyams Beach, and giant fans will be installed at surfing beaches to create wind-blown hair. They also offer the added bonus of providing permanent offshore winds.”
Keeping SITTY Surfers on the sand reduces the likelihood of surf rage and has been established to coincide with the reopening of Australia’s borders, which is sure to lure hordes of international surfers back to beaches such as Bondi.
Council also explained that a team of stylists, makeup artists and brand consultants will be on hand at every beach except Clovelly and Coogee to prettify the Bondi beauties and the smooth-chested Cariocas from the land of Samba. As a result, the only people left in the water will be crusty old men on longboards, bodysurfers, and those of us who long ago accepted that we are not Instaworthy.
SITTY Surfers can use the SITTY2Surf App to check who currently has the most followers and wins priority to the best patch of sand. The app will also carry a daily list of trending hashtags, as well as advice on who we must StandWith on any given day.
Via the app, councils will also have the power to remove followers from the accounts of any SITTY Surfer caught entering the water and actually surfing a wave.
“In this way, SITTY 2 Surf will be more effective than a threat from a Bra Boy, and will deter more surfers than a beach full of blue bottles.
First published in The Beast magazine, April 2022.
Exclusive: The world’s best freestyle skiers and snowboarders are in shock after learning that judges have been using a hidden category to decide the medallists at the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing.
Anonymous sources have revealed that judges have been been rating competitors according to how many social media followers they each have, in addition to Progression, Amplitude, Variety, Execution and Difficulty, in events such as Ski and Snowboard Big Air, Slopestyle and Halfpipe.
“Judges have been scoring competitors according to their popularity on social media,” revealed a spokesperson for judges, on condition of strict anonymity.
“After tallying their scores for the five standard categories, judges then add the number of followers each athlete has on the major social media platforms, in order to create the final score, which then determines the medal winners.”
The judge explained that the secret category was added in Beijing for many reasons, the most salient being that freestyle skiing and snowboarding are sustained by social media.
“Freestyle events like Big Air, Slopestyle and Halfpipe are all devoted to image – just like social media itself. Thus, adding social media presence to the judging criteria was a natural progression.”
Judges reportedly search for athlete profiles on Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat and, to a lesser extent Facebook, before the competition. As the event is being held in China, greater emphasis is being placed on an athlete’s presence on Tik Tok, and Chinese social media site Weibo.
“Do you think Eileen Gu won gold based on her jumps alone?” suggested the judge in hushed tones.
Gu has about 2 million followers on Weibo, and 147,000 plus on Tik Tok, which is Chinese owned and known as Douyin.
Judges also confessed that they welcomed the addition of the new category, which has stunned those within the sports.
“It gives us a way to distinguish between each run,” they admitted.
“Let’s face it, every athlete is basically doing the same trick, one after the other, so this way we can more objectively score the athletes. Assessing a snowboarder’s Cork 720 Mute against another’s is actually quite complicated.”
Judges initially attempted to sneak in a new category in the women’s events. Points were to be deducted if the athlete didn’t have two strands of hair cascading down her face from under her helmet.
“This might be, maybe, possibly, potentially… why Tess Coady only won bronze in Slopestyle. Maybe,” suggested a judge.
“But virtually every woman was doing it, so it didn’t help us to differentiate. Thus, the natural solution was to use social media popularity, which is more objective – you either have 700,000 Instagram followers or you don’t.”
Athletes and team officials are horrified at the subterfuge of event organisers, and have taken to social media to express their anger and demand answers from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Federation internationale de ski (FIS) and Beijing 2022 organisers.
The governing bodies were reluctant to comment, but did say that if they had told athletes and officials of the new category prior to the games, athletes would have simply ‘bought’ more followers for their respective accounts.
Judges decided to take the risk of revealing this highly-classified information in order to assist young people aiming for gold at future wintersports competitions.
“Kids, get out the camera,” they declared.
“Get out the GoPro and the selfie stick, and film everything.”
“Film yourself at the halfpipe, on the jumps, at the park. Film yourself on the way to and from the park, film up and down the chairlift and to and from the slopes. Post about your favourite outfits, music, food, shoes, TV series – everything, even film your dog. Then like, poke, share, retweet, comment and subscribe like crazy”
“Because if you don’t, you’ll never win freestyle gold.”
“Well Cody, I can’t get to Chaz because it’s absolute mayhem here. Officials, doctors, even other riders are all surrounding Chaz and, wait…someone just tried to take his bike off of him…but that’s not his bike, it’s Seth Daley’s, but Chaz won’t let it go, oh boy!”
“Tyler, is he wearing someone else’s helmet?”
“Yeah, that’s right, it looks like Sepp Bol’s helmet, guys it’s pure chaos here.”
“Thanks Tyler. Well folks, Slopestyle finals here at Crankworx Whistler have been stopped while they try to prevent Chaz Girewski from taking his second run, so let’s look back at the replay to see where it all went wrong.”
“Rider no. 4, Chaz Girewski, the Phoenix Phenom. 19 years old and one of the hottest Slopestyle riders on the planet right now.”
“Without a doubt Cody. He’s about to absolutely send it. He’s been posting amazing tricks on his insta @chazzyg lately and this could be epic.”
“Rolls into the first ramp, big air and a Can-Can with double Bar Spin and a Superman”
“Oh…My….God, did we just see that?”
“He’s hunting Emil Bjornssen’s 94.20 folks and he’s all in”
“2nd ramp, what’s he got?”
“Tsunami Backflip with a Tailwhip and a Cork 360 “
“No, this is insane!!!!!!”
“He’s killin’ it, Cody. He’s taking huge speed in to this final jump. Pushes hard into the ramp and rocks a Highland Fling up onto the Whale Tail”
“First time ever in competition. We are witnessing history!!!!!”
“Off the Whale Tail with a Nac-Nac into a Cash Roll and…”
“Oooooh, eeeeuuuwwww, yuk, no…”
“Oh no, that’s nasty”
“He’s slammed into the ground super hard and he’s not moving.”
“Doctors are on the course and holding his neck. Chaz is still not moving and there’s an eerie silence over this huge Crankworx crowd.”
“Let’s see what happened. Off the Whale Tail and then halfway through the Cash Roll he loses his rotation and we can see his foot off the pedal, then the rear wheel hits the lip hard and he flies over the handle bars.”
“Oh guys, this is hard to watch”
“In slowmo we see the visor snap and part of his helmet crack, his goggles fly off, snapped spokes and parts of his bike, I think it’s his brake mount, go spiralling into the air…”
“Wow, that’s nasty”
“We can see now that doctors are asking him to press on their hands”
“Well, that’s to check for a spinal injury, Cody”
“That’s how it happened folks, now we’re back live and Tyler is finally with Chaz in the start hut.”
“Chaz, buddy, that was a massive crash, you should be in hospital dude, what are you doin’ here?”
“I have to do that run again, I forgot to turn on my GoPro.”
Oh no, thought Tim, I’d really don’t want to. What will she say?
Tim was extremely reluctant to return and demand a refund, because of what had happened since he’d purchased the medicine from the chemist.
The specialist explained why Tim was entitled to a refund, and the difference between the correct medicine and the one he was given. Meanwhile, Tim weighed up the consequences of demanding a refund or forgetting the matter entirely. The hit to his wallet had been hard, but the hit to his dignity might be more severe, and more lasting.
“…and make sure you speak to the pharmacist directly, not just the front desk staff. And if they don’t want to give you a refund, call me straightaway, I’m happy to speak to them.”
Thoughts raced through Tim’s mind while he sat in the consultation room. I could just do nothing, the specialist might forget. But the doctor’s conscientiousness made that unlikely, and is why Tim made the four-hour round trip for the appointment.
The specialist continued explaining the mistake and the reason that Tim had broken out in red rashes from head to toe after taking just one tablet. Tim wasn’t completely focussed, but did hear the words:
“…ended up in hospital after taking that medicine…” Tim had been lucky.
I guess I have no choice, he surmised, but the task ahead soured his mood on the long drive home.
Tim’s finger hovered over the button.
Should I? he pondered.
Should I request to follow her?
He’d been struck by her physical beauty as soon as he’d approached the counter, even as she was partially obscured by the cashier and the plethora of medicines which surrounded her. She’s obviously intelligent, too. She looks quite young but that might be the result of her genes, and she must have spent at least four or five years at university before taking up this current position. She’s not too young for a man of Tim’s vintage. She possessed the two qualities Tim genuinely admired in women – brains and beauty. He certainly didn’t subscribe to the the theory that men should never date a woman who is smarter than them. He craved an intellectual sparring partner. Maybe subconsciously he wanted intelligent children, maybe he just wanted someone who could converse. Either way, he knew he would like to get to know this woman more.
He felt his heart beat faster as his finger remained fixed over the button. He imagined the optimal outcome, and his heart beat faster again.
When he first entered the pharmacy, he thought he would be in and out in a few minutes, but he’d been unable to find the correct bottle of tablets, so approached the cashier, who wasn’t able to help.
“The pharmacist will be with you shortly,” she offered.
While he waited for the pharmacist to bring him the medicine, he surveyed the chemist aimlessly. Locals waiting for scripts. Parents buying cold and flu tablets. Tourists stocking up on sunblock and repellent. Then his eyes rested on the board.
The supervising pharmacist had a Sri Lankan or Indian name, while the pharmacist on duty had a name that stood out. It was uncommon in these parts. The pharmacist who had caught Tim’s eye was clearly not from the sub-continent, so she must be the owner of the second name. He rolled it over in his mind a few times, committing it to memory, and realised that unlike most people from this suburb, he had visited the land of her ancestors. He had an ‘in’, a conversation starter. He then tried to remember some of the words he’d picked up from his travels through that country. They trickled back, but then he remembered that those words belong to languages in the south, and her family name comes from the north. No problem, he still recalled a few words of the northern language – at least enough to surprise her. Maybe even impress her.
His finger continued to hover.
Is it creepy?
Will she think I’m a creep, a stalker?
Will she remember me from the pharmacy? We’d spoken for quite a while as she explained the tablets and their likeness to the ones I couldn’t find on the shelf. It was a typically mundane conversation that had been made substantially more enjoyable by her presence. Surely she will notice my profile pic when she sees the request.
Is it normal, is it flattering?
Lot’s of people meet online these days, via social media, via Tinder and all sorts of dating apps and dating sites. Millenials connect via socials, even if many of them don’t admit it – and the photogenic pharmacist was a millenial. People lived most of their lives online, so of course they could meet a partner online. COVID had even forced people to socialise entirely online, so sending an electronic request to initiate a connection with another person is surely somewhat normal these days.
On the other hand, is it too forward?
Will she wonder how I found her? If she remembers it was me, she will know that she never told me her name, nor asked for mine. She was definitely smart enough to deduce that I’d taken it from the board in the pharmacy. She was also smart enough to realise I’d committed the name to memory while in the store – after all, it was not a ‘common’ name.
She might think it was endearing that I’d gone to so much mental effort to remember her name, or she might find it very disconcerting. Some might even call it the early stages of identity theft, or cyber bullying. What’s more, the social media account looked like it hadn’t been updated for quite some time, so she might become suspicious upon seeing a follow request completely out of the blue.
He must think I’m single, she’ll also think. Did he check if I was wearing a wedding ring?
Yes, Tim certainly did. As soon as she emerged from behind her counter.
Will she think less of me for not saying anything in person? Should I have expressed my interest face to face in the pharmacy, upon first meeting? It was hardly a romantic setting. A chemist, surrounded by cures for illness, next to a shabby old man with all manner of health complaints waiting for who knows what medicine. And the middle-aged lady coughing through her nicotine-clogged lungs and showering the chemist with coronavirus: very romantic. Plus, she was giving me medicine, and knew what I was likely suffering. This is what people try so hard to hide on a date.
Will she think me cowardly for not speaking face to face, and for hiding behind a social media account to connect with someone?
His finger descended.
Armed with the proof of purchase, the doctor’s business card and the bottle of offending pills, Tim approached the pharmacist.
Potentially dire consequences await those who ‘like’ social media posts before or without reading the text. The true message of the post is often not evident in the headline and can be contradictory to the reader’s world view or online image. Liking a post without reviewing its contents could even damage someone’s online reputation.
Be particularly wary of satire. This very website contains an entire category full of satirical articles. Satire uses humour to criticise or ridicule particular situations, organisations or people, and the meaning of the text is very rarely evident in the headline.
Beware of hashtags.
Just because a post is accompanied with hashtags such as pets, dogs, dogowners, furryfriends or fourleggedfriends doesn’t mean that the article is supportive of dog owners or pet ownership. In fact, numerous articles on this website, especially in the Satire category, are highly critical of dog owners and their flagrant disregard for dog walking laws. The articles portray the dog owners as selfish, disobedient, arrogant, disrespectful, inconsiderate and in some cases illiterate. Hardly complimentary. Despite this fact, many pet supply companies ‘liked’ the posts.
The pet companies were responding to the hashtags. They have most likely established their social media marketing strategy to identify and respond to any hashtag relating to dogs, pets and dog owners. The companies believe this increases exposure for their brand.
…but what kind of exposure?
If a pet supply company is seen to be endorsing a text which implies that dog owners are selfish, disobedient, arrogant, disrespectful, inconsiderate and in some cases illiterate, this could backfire severely on the company. The company is essentially insulting its customers and insulting the very people which sustain the business and all of its employees.
Has a business ever prospered by insulting its customers?
Think about what you ‘like’.
Liking an image of a person you admire can also lead to misinterpretation or support of an opinion contradictory to your own.
The Frownlow Medal is a satirical award given to the Australia-based professional footballer who commits the worst off-field scandal in any given year. The award exists to criticise the footballers and society’s adoration of them, and uses irony to do so.
An Instagram account holds images of all of the footballers who have so far been nominated for The Frownlow Medal and The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame. Many people ‘like’ the posts containing images of their sporting heroes, without knowing that the player is being criticised for their off-field behaviour. The fans are thus supporting or endorsing a satirical award which is heavily criticising their heroes.
Of course, some fans agree with the award’s premise, and can separate the player’s sporting brilliance from their off-field flaws, but many fans ‘like’ unknowingly.
Another article related to football demonstrates this point. The article relates to the Prime Minister of Australia, Scott Morrison, and attacks his support for the Cronulla Rugby League club and exposes it as a shallow publicity stunt. The article is heavily critical of Morrison, and implies that supporters of the prime minister, and the Cronulla team, have been fooled into supporting and voting for their local representative. Nevertheless, fans of the club ‘liked’ the article when it was posted on this website.
They are essentially liking a post which calls them gullible, uneducated, easily fooled and impressionable.
A food catering service also fell victim to their automated hashtag marketing system. I wrote a travel article about a particularly unsavoury pizza I ate at a local restaurant in China, where I saw customers being given blood pressure checks – after they had eaten. The food catering company had inadvertently associated themselves with poor quality and horrible tasting food – food so bad it could give someone a heart attack.
Someone I have never met told me they thought I was a woman. I’m not. They made this assumption based on my Instagram account.
The person is a friend of a friend and stumbled upon my Instagram account, as people do within the world of social media. They requested to follow, I accepted, and they perused my photos.
The person then messaged me in surprise and told me that she thought I was female.
Because of the content of my Instagram posts.
Essentially, all of my posts depict nature or books. Once I’ve read a book that I like, I take a photo of the cover and maybe and excerpt from the book and I post it on my account. Actually, I haven’t done this for a while, I think I just forgot.
Otherwise, my Instagram account contains images of nature. When I go hiking, cycling, camping or into nature, I like to take photos of sunsets, beaches, plants, trees, skylines and animals. I’d like to have more photos of animals but they’re hard to capture with a basic smartphone lacking a decent zoom. If I do capture an animal it’s always a bonus.
Almost every one of my posts depicts lakes, rivers, mountains, trees, rocks, sand, sun and surf, because I love nature and try to spend as much time in it as possible. My account contains almost no images of myself.
I don’t like appearing on camera and I’m not vain or beautiful enough to be an Instagram model, so I don’t take many selfies. I do appear in other people’s photos or have friends take photos of me, but I just have no interest in posting them online.
I explained to the woman that I am in fact a man, and we had a good laugh about it. It did make me think, however.
Why would someone think that I was female after seeing photos of books and nature?
Have we been conditioned to think that an interest in or respect for nature is feminine? Can only women appreciate and express an appreciation for nature, and is this linked to a woman’s role as a nurturer and care giver?
If this is the case, does it explain the current state of the world’s climate and the natural environment?
Mother Earth, as we often call it, is in trouble after years and years of human abuse, and this abuse is continuing even though we now know better. We now know that previous practices are harming the planet upon which we rely for our survival but we continue with these practices.
Is this cycle of destruction perpetuated because men still rule the world? Certain organisations, businesses and countries have a woman in the top job, but the system which was created by men is still controlled by men. If a man is not expected to love nature, even via an Instagram account, protecting the environment into the future will be very difficult, because men are still making most of the decisions which determine the state of the planet.
Is it time to give women a turn? Really give them a turn. Not just appoint a few women to the position of national or corporate president, not just vote women onto boards or executive positions, but replace men in large numbers at every level of government, business and other sectors of society. Men had their turn running the world, the planet is in very bad shape, so maybe it’s time they were replaced.
If the men running the world were the starting players on a sporting team, their results suggest it’s time they were taken off and replaced by those who have been waiting their turn on the reserves bench.
Can you love nature and still be a man?
Do we have to change paradigms of masculinity to include respect for nature and pride in publicly expressing a love for the natural world?
Do we need to reach a point at which assumptions cannot be made about someone’s gender because they display images of nature on a social media account?
“Their body languages don’t look good,” said the commentator, “I don’t think the Sharks can come back and win this game.”
What is he saying? Does he not speak English? I enjoyed a laugh at the expense of the Australian rugby league commentator before I realised two things:
One, he’s a former rugby league player so we should not expect a high standard of elocution.
Two, he has a point. People do speak body languages. Non-verbal communication is essential to conveying a message in any language, and this aspect of communication can differ between languages, cultures and even sub-cultures.
Eye contact is considered essential and important in many ‘western’ cultures. It shows respect to the other speaker plus confidence and trustworthiness. This is not the case everywhere in the world.
In some Indigenous Australian cultures, it is common for people not to make eye contact, especially when a young person is speaking to an elder. The young person is supposed to defer to the older person and to show their respect by avoiding eye contact. Many Indigenous Australian youth, especially those living in more remote communities, are often taught explicitly how to make eye contact when doing mock job interviews.
Pointing with the index finger is forbidden in some cultures. Muslims do not point with the index finger, but instead use the thumb on top of a closed fist to point something out. It makes you feel like a politician driving home a point at a press conference.
The Wrist Shake
Raise your arm about 90 degrees, bend your elbow, open your hand and shake your wrist vigorously. You can now demonstrate to people in Brunei and Malay cultures that you don’t know, can’t remember, don’t have…or don’t care. If you’re a student in an English class in Brunei, you can use this to tell your orangputih (white person) English teacher that you can’t be bothered to reply to him in English.
The hand shake
“Shake like a man”
Grip the other man’s hand firmly, look him straight in the eye and shake hands confidently. Do this in western cultures, but not in Malay cultures. Instead, slip your hand softly into the other person’s hand and rock it gently up and down. If you meet the Sultan, or another V I P, you might have to kiss that hand. Just hope your not the 998th person to do so.
If you don’t know something in the Yolngu lands of north-east Arnhem land in Australia, stick out your lower lip. Still in Arnhem Land, if someone asks you for directions, show them the way by pursing your lips and moving your head in the direction of travel. That’s right, you point with your lips.
In fact, if you grow up in the Yolgnu culture, you will learn how to conduct an entire conversation without words. Two female teachers demonstrated this during a teaching inservice.
An expert had flown in from Darwin to the community of Yirrkala to conduct a training session on how better to teach students with hearing problems, which are very common among Yolgnu children. To help teachers to empathise with students with hearing problems, the expert put headphones on the teachers and told them to communicate a simple message to their colleague – without using sound. The non-Aboriginal teachers stumbled, mimed and laughed their way through a miserably deficient dialogue, while two Yolngu women conducted an entire conversation with body language.
Don’t smile at me!
“Don’t you dare smile at me,” said the teacher sternly, “this is serious. Your behaviour was completely unacceptable. I said stop smiling, do you think this is a joke?”
The student didn’t think it was a joke. As a Chinese boy who had lived in China his whole life, he’d cultivated the habit of smiling or laughing to show shyness, embarrassment or humility. Unfortunately, the newly-arrived British teacher didn’t realise this and continued her reprimand with steam blowing out of her ears and veins popping out of her head.
The head wobble
Does that mean yes, no, maybe? Are you ignoring me, mocking me, agreeing with me. Is it a commitment, a promise that the task will be completed as requested?
I have no idea.
All I saw while working at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, was a head wobble. No matter how many times I saw it from Indian staff, I had no idea what it meant. Sometimes it was subtle, sometimes it was a very pronounced wobble.
In my experience, shaking the head means no. In India, however, this wasn’t always the case. Sometimes the head shaker did complete the task. I was thoroughly confused most of the times I was greeted with a head shake. One thing I surmised, rightly or wrongly, was that the bigger the headshake, the less likely it was that the job would be done.
Count with your hands
Yi, Er, San…
The first five numbers are easy to display on one hand, but what about numbers 6 – 10? The Chinese have developed a handy system of communicating numbers with one hand when verbal communication is not an option. Be careful with number 8 though, it could look like you want to shoot someone. Also, don’t assume someone is trying to ward off the devil when they reach number 10.
Body languages don’t just differ between vastly different cultures. Non-verbal communication can also cause a faux pas between speakers of the same language. George Bush Sr provided a classic example. During an official visit to Australia, the then president drove through a city in his official motorcade and offered the crowd the two-fingered peace sign, or what he thought was the two-fingered peace sign. He put his fingers around the wrong way and showed the back of his hand to the crowd. In Australia, holding up two fingers in this way means ‘up yours’, ‘bugger off’, ‘go away’ or ‘piss off’. It’s just one step down from ‘giving the bird’.
Body languages do not exist on social media. Emoji’s have attempted to replace non-verbal communication across these platforms but they simply cannnot transmit the same level of meaning. Furthermore, even an emoji can have different meaning in different contexts – and I’m not just talking about fruit emojis and their attendant innuendo. I’m referring to seemingly innocent emojis such as the thumbs up symbol.
In my experience, the thumbs up symbol is a succinct way of saying ‘I agree’, ‘everything is ok’, ‘problem solved’…However, a Brazilian friend did not interpret my thumbs up in this manner. In her experience, the thumbs up means
‘I can’t be bothered answering your message’
‘I don’t care enough to write a response’
‘I’m politely ignoring your message’
As the world becomes consumed by mass media and people live more of their lives online, what happens to body language?
Body language is vital to communication. It can involve the use of the hands, the head, the eyes or even the lips. It can be enlightening or confusing, and it differs greatly between cultures and within cultures.
Professional footballers throughout the world have united in response to Israel Folau’s warning that most of them will go to hell.
The players flocked to #ToHellWithIzzy on social media upon learning that their recreational activities have condemned them all to eternal damnation.
Folau created enormous controversy when his social media post claimed that hell awaits Drunks, Homosexuals, Adulterers, Liars, Fornicators, Thieves, Atheists and Idolators. In response to the post, footballers used #ToHellWithIzzy to list the actions which will see them spend eternity with the devil.
Players confessed their sins in an attempt to win The Frownlow Medal or be inducted into The Frownlow Medal Hall of Fame. The Frownlow Medal is awarded to the player from across Australia’s four major football codes who commits the most scandalous off-field act in any one season, while the hall of fame honours the greats of the past.
Some of the stars who have united under #ToHellWithIzzy include:
Drunks – Too many to mention, including Brad Fittler, who police once labelled ‘the drunkest human being ever’.
Homosexuals – Are there any gay male footballers playing first grade in Australia?
Adulterers – Wayne Carey, who famously slept with the wife of his teammate. Garry Lyon, who famously slept with the wife of Billy Brownless.
Liars – Jordan de Goey, who blamed his dog for a hand injury, which he actually sustained at a nightclub.
Fornicators – The part-time pornstars, who all appeared in a sex tape which surfaced online: Dylan ‘Big Papi’ Napa, Tyrone May, Tyrone Phillips, Liam Coleman. Sonny Bill Williams, famous for a rendezvous in a toilet at a Sydney pub. Corey Norman, who won The Frownlow Medal in 2016.
Thieves – Quade Cooper, who once stole two laptops. Garry Sullivan, who served time in prison for multiple armed robberies.
Atheists – ?
Idolators – Most professional footballers, who worship their own shirtless form on social media.