Find out who your real ‘friends’ are

John Ward
John Ward
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WARD’S WORLD: By John Ward

I was reading an article recently about the Jupiter mission landing, yet another project that money and resources can be found to be thrown or squandered upon from supposed space researchers on this planet, while seemingly unimportant things like finding a cure for assorted life-threatening diseases in the real world down here get pushed out the way and have to rely on people rattling collecting tins on street corners for donations to keep them going. The article pointed out it takes 48 minutes, 19 seconds for radio signals to reach mission control in California (where else?) from the planet Jupiter, and to be honest my first thoughts were that they must be with the same broadband provider as us.

In the realms of communications, we have come a long way since the waxed string held taut between two empty cocoa tins – those of a certain age will know what I am talking about here: it predates “hand-held devices” as in the electrical-powered ones of today – and as a trailblazer, a brilliant starter – early reports suggest it was 100 per cent English-made string that was used.

As I wander about this green (subject to season) and pleasant land – and do mind those potholes – I cannot but be amazed at the sheer number of folk seen jabbing or sliding away on their hand-held devices, from mobile phones to tablets that seemingly need to be taken all day long as opposed to the pharmaceutical type, usually once or twice a day in water.

With heads bowed, some with earphones clamped over the ears or in some cases to keep the head together maybe, wandering about and narrowly missing traffic and we, or rather they, should be grateful that there are kerbs so that these act as a sort of reminder to those so engrossed in their finger jabbing, prodding and sliding that this is where pavement ends and the road begins, but it’s not always the case of course.

Rumour has it some have wage-earning jobs, but how they find the time to do any work with this constant screen polishing is anybody’s guess. One of the key constant “fingerin’ ’n’ thumbing” areas is what is referred to as “social media”; membership seems to include such mundane things as, uploading a photo of your dog, or the stray from next door will suffice; the state of your armpits, as you couldn’t manage without them, there being no connection other than between upper body and arms in order to operate the almighty mobile device, plus the time when you got out of bed, then once that hurdle has been cleared, why you got out of bed and for a further five points, whose bed you got out of and that is always a gem to behold, more so for those in hospital and that’s just those visiting.

The age range of those engrossed screen polishing is roughly the following: from 12 months old to 16 years, everything is greeted with “Oh My God!!” or OMG if in a boardroom meeting, playground or crèche with the now-standard response being – quote: “I’m, like, well, you know, OMG, like!”but has to be shouted at full volume but best among a crowd of at least three other finger and screen-twitchers within close range, it’s unheard of (pun intended) that they do it on their own as an audience is an essential requirement, and from 17 years of age upwards to late 40s, it’s: “Yeah, okay then..” and after that, it’s “Ummm... Will check app to see if I am still alive, breathing and stuff. Get back to you on that one.”

It seems this is the way to acquire “friends”, as it’s not unheard of to get hundreds, nay thousands or millions even, if there is a sale on, as there is bound to be somebody out there, in cyber space, waiting to hear you suffer from ingrowing toenails when wearing open-toed wellington boots, as suddenly you will find there are others, too, in this predicament, who want to “share” in your suffering and these, too, will also generate much more interest in the same aliment, with at least some wanting to sell numerous pairs of wellington boots in the process.

One interesting point was raised a few years ago as friend Peter, who was employed as an undertaker, attended to one funeral and it came about that this person had over 4,000 “friends”, followers and perhaps disciples, possibly, according to their “profile”, but on asking how many attended the funeral service, the grand total of – wait for it – nine, including his sister, who travelled from Weymouth who only just made it as the car she was in had a puncture and the driver couldn’t change the wheel, as there was no spare in the boot and they had to wait for somebody to arrive and do the business.

One chap sat through part of the service before realising it was the wrong deceased person, same name but different person, plus gender, and left on tip-toe when he realised he didn’t recognize anybody else there – perhaps had he have waited, some of the still-to-arrive just under 4,000 “friends”, etc, may have turned up, but then again, as with all these supposed cyber friends and hangers-on, not a chance.

Peter summed it up by saying in his experience, friends are the ones who you can put your hand out to and see, who are there through everything from the happy times to those less mentioned, and pop round to ask if they can borrow your lawnmower, but only if you have had it sharpened recently, the mower not the friend, and are there to offer advice and comforting words when things go untoward – not waiting to see if there is a good signal before you get a response.

I remember when his divorce was finalised and he said if nothing else, he would miss his - now - ex mother-in-law and I offered advice when this came about in my own situation but suggested that, like me, he could get round this setback as I found by cutting up a raw onion, you could get the same overall effect and it didn’t rely on any particular breed or make of onion either, although the pickled ones were not so good, of course.

Now back to the Jupiter landing malarkey as it’s how we started off. The excuse seems to be to find if there is a life form there, butI think I am in a position to save them a shedload of money, as there is no human form there otherwise it would be communicating on social media with a few thousand down here, as in wishing to know do they have a photo of their scars from their appendix operation they can download, or perhaps their long-lost cousin that have not heard from since yesterday. Nothing like getting your priorities right, I say.