Fri | Oct 20, 2017

Before you press 'Send' ...

Published:Sunday | June 7, 2015 | 12:00 AM

There's a gloriously funny story about an ISIS fighter, now being referred to as 'the moron militant', who posted a selfie on social media and effectively killed himself off. This man was a fighter in Syria who should have perhaps just sent the pic to close friends and associates. Unfortunately for him, intelligence experts in Florida picked up the selfie, used it to determine his location, and blasted the ISIS headquarters to bits.

One calculation had it as 22 hours from when the moron militant hit 'Send' to when he was sent to his Maker. I don't think the guy was thinking things through before he hit 'Send', and this, it turns out, is not an uncommon problem.

That said, I'm not sure there's much to add about the Mrs 'Jinx' Paul vs Usain Bolt dust-up, except that it was extremely amusing.

For example, here I am, definitely not in Norbrook, hoping and wishing that Usain Bolt could be my neighbour so that I could tell all my friends about it. I even imagine taking a selfie or two, smiling broadly and with oodles of self-satisfaction, with his house in the background.

Mind you, I'm completely against him riding motorcycles, because that seems like putting his legs, which are national assets, at unnecessary risk. But that aside, if I were a neighbour of his, I would probably jump on the phone to everyone I know the minute I heard a bike start up and be like: Annnnnoying! That's Usain again, always revving his bike. He's my neighbour, y'know!" It's called a 'humblebrag', and to have the desired effect, the name must be dropped so inconspicuously that it was hardly noticed.

Anyway, it seemed obvious to me that nobody, except for people who live right near to Mrs Paul and Bolt, could possibly know whether it's him or her who is the real annoyance. It was, therefore, an amusing Rorschach test of people's self-assessments and neuroses about Jamaican society. And let me tell you: Jamaicans are angry at each other.

I made sure to mention the dust-up to as many people as would listen, just to discover their reactions. Only the very circumspect didn't immediately take a side. From one angle - the overwhelmingly popular one - there was instant outrage at the "go back to where he came from" comment, and the most uncharitable interpretations of it were assumed. Unfortunately for Mrs Paul, it kinda read that way, as containing loads of ugly.

 

wrong race and class

 

So it was taken to mean that Usain was from the wrong race and class to live in the good-good Norbrook neighbourhood. Whoa! Then there was the other side - the few - who immediately had a story to add about an annoying and loud neighbour, and felt Mrs Paul should stick to her guns.

I was not at all surprised when a full-frontal apology was dumped on social media really fast.

I'm basically sympathetic. I've had, on more than a few occasions, the desire to take back something I've said or written, and, sadly, I have every reason to believe that desire will recur many times. I suspect it's a common experience, because regardless of how disciplined we are, comments sometimes go off the rails. We all take flash decisions about what to express, and then we're forced to live with it.

And while you may forget what you said, other people have elephantine memories, and they will gladly remind you. In fact, I've found that others will even remember, with remarkable accuracy and certainty, things I absolutely did not say and could not have said.

I suspect it was reflection on similar experiences that caused PJ Patterson to distill and share the timeless wisdom in his advice that "silence cannot be misquoted".

 

PERILS OF PUBLISHING

 

The perils of publishing also came to mind earlier this week when my friend, Aubyn Hill, attributed his travails with the DBJ to his weekly column wherein he typically begrudgingly acknowledges the Government's superior fiscal management while hunting opportunities to quarrel with it. As Opposition something-or-the-other, it's his job to find fault.

But I think Aubyn has a very aggrandised understanding of what an opinion column can achieve, or how much people actually care. He's not alone in this, as the mental droppings in the newspapers often reveal, or hint at, some frighteningly inflated egos.

Now I want to point to other instances where a little more thought might have been helpful before publication.

One such is the case of Daryl Vaz's name being mentioned by Sir David Simmons at the West Kingston commission of enquiry. It's unfortunate that something like that couldn't have been raised outside public view. Simmons just dropped it out there, and although the 'information' about Dudus being at the Vaz residence was unsubstantiated and baseless, I'm quite certain that a few years hence we will be reminded that Dudus was eating rice and peas and chicken with Daryl's family while the security forces were scouring Tivoli. That's the nature of these things: people will remember the accusation in minute detail, but not that it was determined to be nonsense.

Another one: Jack Warner isn't doing Caribbean manhood any favours with his antics. In the wake of the corruption allegations, he took to social media with a video, brandishing an Onion magazine article as evidence that the USA had an international vendetta against him and FIFA. The headline read, 'FIFA Frantically Announces 2015 Summer World Cup in the United States'.

The Onion is a satirical magazine. But Jack(ass) Warner flew right by the satire to clutch at a wilting straw and advise the Americans to "take your losses like a man". Sadly, those words could come back to haunt him, depending, of course, on the size and proclivities of his cellmate in the federal penitentiary.

- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.