By Nury Vittachi
“Thank you for writing hysterical angry abuse under my Facebook post! It persuaded me to bring my political views in line with yours!”
I find myself writing that line increasingly often, and some folk even take it seriously.
Internet discussions have their own rules. But I love them because there are few pleasures in life equal to watching people massively embarrassing themselves from the comfort of your armchair.
True story: A few days before writing this, a sneaky guy noticed that a chat-group of 32 people were all female. So he wrote a message and sent it to all 32 names: “You’re cute. Where are you from?” But because it was a group chat, each woman could see that he had sent the same message to 31 others. When he realised what he had done, he wrote: “Oh s***!” and closed his account at the speed of light. A screenshot remains on the Imgur website.
For a good laugh, I recommend visiting Yahoo Answers. Here are my three favorite real questions from that site: 3) “I was bitten by a turtle when I was a young lad. Should I still drink orange juice?” 2) “How am I sure I am the real mum of my kid?” 1) “What percentage of water is celery?”
Sometimes this columnist and other naughty people post humorous replies to questioners. For example, someone asked: “How big is the specific ocean?” Someone replied: “Can you be more pacific?” A different questioner asked: “What is a person from London called?” The reply: “My neighbor is from London and he is called Rob.” And more recently someone posted this question: “HOW DO I TURN OFF CAPS LOCK?” The reply: “IT’S FOREVER IRREVERSIBLE. THAT’S WHAT HAPPENED TO ME.”
The joy of Internet conversations lies in the fact that people don’t have editors. One girl wrote “your stuped” under one of this writer’s columns. I replied: “Maybe, but at least I can spell ‘you’re’ and ‘stupid’.”
But in general I avoid correcting people’s spelling on the web. If you do, a Law of Nature kicks in which ensures that you make an embarrassing spelling mistake within minutes.
Facebook is also fun for wits. A mother on that site got fed up of chauffeuring her children around and wrote: “I’m not a bloody taxi service, if you want a lift, I expect money.” Her witty friend replied: “That would make you a taxi service.”
Yet be warned: As well as stupid people, cyberspace houses evil ones. Some years back, a creepy guy put a lecherous comment (“ooh sexy”) on a YouTube video of my then 11-year-old daughter and her friends singing.
Since then I learned from a tech-y friend how to trace creeps and noticed some of them are so dumb they use their real names or upload videos showing their faces. I asked my tech to upgrade the “block this commentator” option into a “remotely electrocute this commentator” option. He says it can’t be done yet, but assures me Messrs Schmidt and Zuckerberg are on it. Hurry up, lads.
In the meantime, I shall get out my science books and see if I can find an answer to a genuinely puzzling question: What percentage of water is celery?
(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. Send ideas and comments via his Facebook page)