2016 Guide to Social Media
Turn off your phone for an hour these days, and you're way behind the curve. Technology never sleeps, as the nerds who control everything look for new ways to take control of every aspect of our lives. Pat Fitzpatrick takes a look at the latest apps, technologies, trends and viral videos that you can use to stay ahead of the posse. And he points out the real and present danger of typing the word 'knickers' into Google ...
INSTANT MESSAGE FATIGUE
You'll see a lot of ads these days promising to speed up your smartphone. Ignore them. Just follow this simple advice. Ditch your nerdy friend.
You know, the bloke who went from Skype to Snapchat to Viber to WhatsApp over a period of three weeks. In five years' time he'll have some syndrome named after him which can be cured with a course of electric-shock treatment. In the meantime, your mobile phone seems to be going slower than an episode of the Nuacht. That's because you installed eight instant-messaging apps so you could stay in touch with His Nerdiness.
You'd uninstall them if it wasn't for the condition known as FOMO. (That's 'fear of missing out'. If not knowing what FOMO means doesn't bother you, then you don't have it.) You need to ditch that nerdy friend before he makes that nine instant-messaging apps. It shouldn't be difficult to ditch him. It's not like he's hard to contact.
Two problems remain. You still belong to 23 groups across four instant-messaging apps. This is very dodgy, given the percentage of Irish people who reckon it's a good idea to use your phone after seven vodkas (100pc).
The bad news? It's only a matter of time before you send a photo of your genitals to your three aunts in Roscommon who never married. The good news? You live in Ireland, and everyone involved will pretend it didn't happen.
There is another issue. These apps are now being actively targeted by scammers. Viber users recently got a message saying they had won a new smartphone and all they had to do was pay a small admin fee to collect their prize.
It didn't work here. There are only two classes of people who insist you pay arbitrary admin fees in Ireland - bankers and gangsters. Actually, make that one class of people.
A recent Ipsos MRBI Social Messaging Survey told us something we already know. Irish people are fierce liars. How else can you explain that only 5pc of adults admitted to having the dating app Tinder on their phone? Irish people are clearly swiping away like billy-o.
Step in to any cafe or bar now, and you'll spot at least three couples on a Tinder date. You can't miss them. She is not looking at her phone the whole time he is talking. There will be plenty of time for that when they get married. He's boasting about how he uses Photoshop at work. She's thinking, 'So that's how you got rid of the acne on your profile photo'. They each check out the other's ass when they go to the jacks. It's like being in the monkey house in the zoo, but with a stronger smell. (Irish men are still getting to grips with aftershave.)
Here are some things you should know about Tinder. They recently introduced a new premium service. It's as seedy as it sounds. You pay extra every month to search for partners when you are overseas. Try and say that without thinking 'sex tourism'.
This is where it gets downright insulting. This premium service costs three times as much if you are over the age of 28.
Why 28? Desperation. That would appear to be the age men first start to hear the words they dread most from younger women - 'You remind me of my dad'. Oh Jesus, make it stop.
Tinder recently introduced a 'super like' option that you can only use once a day. It's a way of signalling to someone that you really fancy them. It also suggests you might be a relentless stalker. So be careful if you get one.
I would like 40m people in India to open up Facebook one morning and say, "I bet the Irishman was not expecting that to happen when he proposed to his girlfriend on that big cliff." Is that your lifetime ambition? Don't worry, you're not alone.
Why would you bother making an eejit of yourself on X Factor, when global fame is just a mildly clever YouTube video away? The funny-marriage-proposal one is probably overdone at this stage. Even if you make it look like your girlfriend was blown off the Cliffs of Moher at the vital moment. And then turned to the camera and said, "Ah sure, easy come, easy go", before heading off to chat up a hot-looking Spaniard. (We've all been there.)
There is one way guaranteed to make people sit up and take notice in this country. Mammy. Baz Ashmawy - pictured, with his mammy, Nancy - shows how it's done in his TV series, 50 Ways to Kill Your Mammy. It's an international hit, even in countries where it is considered creepy to be obsessed with your mother (ie everywhere except Ireland and Italy).
You'll need to combine mammy with a hot topic. Why not try polysexuality? (I did, says you, but it wasn't for me.) Just make a simple video where you tell mammy that you're polysexual. She will almost certainly reply, "What, you mean like a horny parrot?" Look at you - the talk of Bangalore for 15 seconds.
A word of warning. Cut out the bit of the video where she asks if polysexual is the same as bisexual. In fairness to mammy, that is a reasonable question. But the polysexual community (ie anyone under 26) gets very upset when you start using labels. And you'll need them to share your video around the world. So just let it end on "horny parrot".
The good news is you'll be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show within the week.
The bad news is the producers will insist you bring mammy with you. And she'll probably try and fix your fringe in front of four million Yanks.
Ah Jesus, mammy, stop!
Think about it. You work in a massive social-media company with a job title like Person In Charge Of Coming Up With New Stuff. You sit looking at the freeway outside your pod (aka office), weeping at all the people not using your app because they have to keep their eyes on the road. The solution? Make your own car.
Both Google and Apple are well down this road. Their new self-driving cars have every chance of success. Particularly now that diesel is considered about as safe as smoking an asbestos burger. Rumour has it that Apple will call their version the iCar. If you didn't already guess this, you will never be a Person In Charge Of Anything in the new economy.
Rumour also has it that the iCar will be released as soon as 2019. That should be fun. You can imagine the queues of nerds around the block wanting to get their hands on the first edition. And then pushing their new iCar down the street because they spent all their lives playing Minecraft and never learned to drive.
In fairness, learning to drive could soon be as obsolete as a selfie stick. (They're so last month. Did no one tell you?) Google's self-drive car means your nerd can just step in and say, "Take me to the nearest Star Wars convention". (You're never far from that kind of thing these days.) The Person In Charge Of Coming Up With New Stuff has won the day. Again. Finally, we can spend all of our waking hours on social media.
This is good news for two classes of people. Tech billionaires who won't be happy until they have all our money.
And people who specialise in treating those suffering from chronic loneliness. They're going to be very busy.
There is a new app in town. It's called Peeple. It lets you rate your friends. And you thought nothing good would ever come out of the internet.
Peeple hasn't actually been released yet. It's currently in beta testing, which is tech speak for "Please iron out the problems in our app for free, we're too busy becoming trillionaires". Early reaction to the app is fairly negative. Critics say that Peeple will be used to bully, harass and spread false rumours about people.
We say it will fit right in with all the other social-media apps.
Peeple is going to be huge. Come on, there's nothing worse than having to stay friends with someone for life. That is so 2011. Just because you sat next to someone in college shouldn't mean you have to buy presents for their kids. Unless you ended up marrying the person, and they are your kids as well. (Maybe get them something small.)
Peeple, which insists that people use their real names, allows you to send a clear message to your friend. The message being, "Find another friend".
This is where it gets a little tasty. A negative review of someone is sent to that person, but isn't posted online for 48 hours. This is to give you and your friend time to work through your issues, according to the people who wrote the app.
Americans are hilarious, aren't they?
Forty-eight hours later, all going well, you are rid of a friend who didn't cut the mustard anymore. If you have the bandwidth for a new friend, just log on to Peeple and see who's hot this month in your area.
Seriously, this app changes everything.
Do you remember the movie Minority Report? Tom Cruise's character is walking along, when a talking billboard says, "John Anderton. You could use a Guinness right about now". It seemed so weird back in 2002. And not just because we all imagined Tom talking to the drink in his Far and Away accent. "Come over here, me darlin' pint of plain."
Thirteen years later, and that kind of advertising doesn't seem so weird anymore. The big tech companies know our every move and are desperately trying to flog us stuff off the back of it.
You'd be afraid to google the word 'knickers' these days in case a prostitute arrived at your front door and shouted, "I know what you're thinking", in the letter box. It doesn't matter how easy-going your neighbours are. That's not a good look.
Of course, it's all your own fault. All bets are off since you clicked 'I Agree' to the terms and conditions on some new game for your phone. Never mind that item three, paragraph 67, of the contract reads, "Dodgy Marketing Inc reserves the right to send a person into your house to watch you sleeping".
So what? It's a very good game and it's free. And there's nothing on the telly anymore, except for maybe Gogglebox. So you need something to do in the evening before crawling into bed.
Clicking 'I Agree' means that nothing is private anymore. It allows marketing companies to deploy specialist software that can scan through the photos on your phone and glean incredibly accurate information about your lifestyle. So if you get a Facebook ad for genital-wart-removal cream on a Sunday morning, don't tell anyone. Not even the stranger next to you in the bed.
Sorry. Using 'Lol' and 'OMG' in a message is actually an embarrassment now. You might as well put 'stop the lights' and 'groovy Julia' in a sentence. You need a lingo refresh.
There is a new resource promising to do just that. The British government recently launched a website called parentinfo.org. It claims to have the lowdown on the acronyms the young crowd are using online today. For example, IRL means 'in real life'. Unless it was on the back of a car in 1980s Ireland. Back then, it meant we went to France on the ferry, ooh-la-la.
IWSN means 'I want sex now'. There is only one thing worse than catching your teen saying that to someone. And that's catching him saying he doesn't want sex in a hurry. Let's face it, you were practically rubbing yourself off a tree at his age. Hopefully there isn't something wrong with him.
KPC is short for 'Keep parents clueless'. There are lots of way to fool the old folks, according to parentinfo.org. The best way is to direct them to a Tory government website that claims to know what kids are up to. So steer clear.
Here's some news for you. The word 'chill' no longer means what you think it means. Particularly if it is preceded by the word Netflix. Asking someone over to 'watch Netflix and chill' is the modern equivalent of asking someone in for coffee.
Seriously, chill is the new word for sex. Or 'how's your father' as anyone over 40 in Ireland calls it, because we're bigger prudes than we'd like to admit.
Anyway, if someone invites you in to watch Netflix and chill, forget about House of Cards and make sure to wear your scoring underwear.
On the other hand, if you asked someone over to chill without realising what it meant, now might be to time to clear things up.
In that spirit, I would like to apologise for the confusion, Sister, and I hope everything is going well above in the convent.
Are you honestly telling us you still use email? That is so 3.40pm last Thursday week. It's time to get with the programme. And the programme is an instant-messaging app called Slack. Slack currently only has about 750,000 users. That might seem small, but most of those are hipsters working in Silicon Valley start-ups. Which is another way of saying our lords and masters.
We'll all be using Slack soon and going around on hoverboards. (It's a skateboard for hipsters.) There is no point in fighting these things. Slack is marketed as a powerful productivity tool for busy hipsters. Ironic, innit? Companies desperate to recruit talented nerds are dangling a Slack account in front of them, along with stock options and a free Spacehopper. It's that attractive.
And now for the bad news. The idea behind Slack is that you only get to see work-related communications when you are in the office. Which, when you think about it, is shite. No more looking at a video of pandas going down a slide on company time. The Silicon Valley crowd won't rest until they have turned the office into a place of work.
You'll still need to play along. It might be an idea to mention Slack the next time you are doing a job interview. Just remember to take account of the age of the interviewer. Asking anyone over 35 if they use much Slack in the office could make you look like a complete tool.
"We don't actually use open fires to heat the place at all", replies your interviewer, scribbling 'Crazy??' down the side of your CV.
Hang on a minute. Are you seriously suggesting you have never posted a photo of a freshly baked strawberry roulade up on Facebook? We pity you for being so last month.
After some early messing around with photos of snotty kids, Facebook has finally found its purpose in life. It is the place where you use baking to make your friends feel inadequate. This is all down to The Great British Bake Off. Talk about an unlikely success. Who knew that so many people could bear to watch live baking? Or Sue Perkins?
That said, the rise of baking makes sense. It's a nerdy, prim, solitary pursuit that was popular 60 years ago. The hipsters were bound to stumble on it sooner or later.
And now it's all over Facebook. They must be thinking of renaming it Facebake. (People with D4 accents always pronounced it that way, says you, bitter that you're not one of them.)
It's like a blood-sport for people with young kids. You're risking a visit from social services these days if you don't post a photo of a three-tier banana cake for little Jack's birthday, along with a breezy message. It's important you get just the right amount of breezy.
"I baked this. Up Yours," is just a little direct for what you're trying to achieve. "I got this in Lidl," is out. You're not allowed to joke about baking any more. It's a serious business. "Look what I threw together in my spare time for Jack's birthday," is about right.
And so passive-aggressive. But that's Facebake for you.
This baking boom won't last forever. Facebook has plans to introduce a 'dislike' button. It's supposed to enable users to empathise with bad news.
Now that's hilarious. It will end up being used as a blunt way to say, "You suck, and so does your post".
The dislike button could be just the thing to use against yet another dodgy tart. And no, we're not talking about your friends.
Picture the car salesman of the future. There is no point in having an iCar salesman in a shiny suit, offering to throw in a set of mud flaps and a stereo. That would be as stale as watching last year's X Factor. There is only one thing that appeals to your younger consumer - shiny gadgets with no obvious use.
This is where the iRing comes in. Apple has patented a wearable device for your index finger. It even has a touchscreen. It's as yet unclear whether the device comes with a knife so you can pare your other index finger right down in order to use this tiny touchscreen.
Some say that people would never do something so excruciatingly painful just to look young and hip. We say: tattoos.
It gets better. (Or worse, for anyone who reckons wearable technology has gone to a place beyond bonkers.) The iRing can be used to control other devices such as iPads and iPhones. You point at them and click your fingers to issue a command. Just like an American in a restaurant, says you.
The iRing gives you voice-activated control of things, such as your central heating. You can imagine people sitting on the bus, issuing commands to their index finger when it starts to snow. One or two might ruefully add, "Is this really progress?"
At which point, the iRing will probably reply, "Of course it is. Stop thinking about things too much. By the way, the chicks would love you in an iCar. We'll throw in a free earring that can turn on the oven. That would make you happy, wouldn't it?"
Not really. Walking over to turn on the oven is the only bit of exercise I get these days. Technology is making me huge.
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