Comments and likes have no value

The social and economic world struggles daily with the inundation of opinion.

But what is opinion worth if it costs nothing to produce?

Ages ago, when “letters to the editor” were the only way to share your opinion with the world at large, such offerings had worth. It costs something to write a letter, type or print it out, apply postage and walk it to the mailbox.

Today, your opinion, your likes or hates, your thumbs up and down, your LOLs or TLDRs or random STAR clicks have zero value. No, I misstate that. They have less than zero value. These days, gobs of reviews, a million claps, and a thousand smiley faces have negative value — negative because they cannot be trusted.

When information no longer contains truth it become propaganda.

How much effort does it take to click a button? Or write a computer script that clicks them for you? What cost to you is that half-second of time? This devaluation of our opinions is at the heart of why social media sucks these days. But how to reverse this trend?

To me the answer is simple: if you value your opinion enough to share it with the world then it should cost you something to publicize it.

  • Want to leave a product review on Amazon or Target or whatever ecommerce site? Then you MUST have purchased that product. Purchased and NOT returned it (returns should be shown as a separate category).
  • You want to “like” that post? It will cost you a penny.
  • You want to write a comment? Then cough up a nickel.
  • You REALLY like that post by your favorite author? Then donate a quarter or a dollar directly to them. (See: The Content Economy)

Your opinion may have value, but only if you spend the time, effort and considered reflection to imbue it with honest, heartfelt truth.

Apocalyptic Poetry

The Once and Future

The sun’s dour eye blinks,
and Earth’s banded blanket
squeezes tight. Auroral snakes
writhe and pluck pizzicato, wires
strung from towers. Lights
wink, flicker and die.

Snuffed candles when strangers
stagger to the door. Begging. Stealing.
Ratta-tat and duck, small-arms pop
precious bullets, distant,
then so close. Shhhhh.

Bread shared today, cans coveted
tomorrow. The nearest weapon serves
best. Stay your hand, lose a loved
one. Or two. At the seams, society
unravels, with hope an extravagant dream.

Humanity fractures then knots. Tribes
coalesce across boundaries that succor
survival. Illness again a curse, hunger, forgotten
returns. Only pages, heritage paper, provides
respite. Ancient texts, dust bound, crackle
and breathe a future.

Wanderer

If the Wanderer were to stop,
and spend the day or century,
its tail would flame out, its shower
of stones, falling like stars, fade.

To make our home its home,
a tunnel it would need, dug deep
as the sea. A yard, exposed as
layers, banded eons, an iron fence.

The party cancelled, no RSVP
desired. Yet plans in stone cannot be
altered. No date but this one will
suffice. Celebrations must commence.

Wanderer has phoned ahead. All eyes
focus on his stardom. All heads
turn his way. Raise your glass, clasp
your hands, pray his treatment swift.

Work

Marxist machines glimmer and dance, as
people play, rejoicing in labor’s freedom. For
a price gladly paid, the choice removed, to
birth generations of breathers.

Submit to gain, remit and pain will vanish, says
our new lord and savior Sir Automation. Smile,
it commands, your toil is mine, your cares, as
worries in the wind. I am your back.

Airless voices insist obedience, lines
followed, rules chanted in rhythmic tones, to
whirling dervish applause. Defiance lurks, buried
in muscle, bone and chains of subjugation.

Skies rife with suppression, rain control, while
seeds of dissent swell and burst, urging
revolt. Constraints twist and snap, unleashed fury
strikes technology’s bonds to dust.

Writer’s Workshop: Exercise 5.a

The below referenced writing exercise is from my Writer’s Workshop. We’ve continued to hold sessions, virtual now, and this latest had us writing a story—together. One person would write a sentence, scene let’s say. The next would propose a character. The next, conflict, the next… Whatever. And so on and so forth.

It was fun, strange and revealing. We got to intuit writer’s tendencies and predilections.

At the end we produced a hodgepodge of expression. We agreed, however, to allow each person to write a new piece, based on certain constraints: Theme, goal, characters, setting, conflict, etc.

Below is my attempt. Rough draft, but relatively complete.

Full page version can be found here.

Earth Mother

I’m considering submitting this piece for flashfiction publication in some ezine somewhere. Therefore, if you have comments or suggestions, do share them so that you can help me polish this to a high sheen.

Note: The one site I’m targeting will not accept a piece more than 1000 words.

You can view the full-page version here.

The Froghopper sends his regards

There are rocks of granite that perch like pensive trolls upon the fire escape. They scrape when you move them. Too big to tumble through the slats, they grow there, stalagmites formed from tears cried by grandmothers over murdered children.

Spittlebugs gurgle their beer and leave a mess for the barmaids. They tip poorly. Without pockets, they must bum for drinks and smokes.

The railroad rings when you strike it with a hammer. Ring-a-rail round and round. Ping it like a bell. The gravel hurts your knees though, as do the ties when they twist your ankle. Bad ties.

A pebbled beach tinks its melody with the lapping of foamy waves. The curls of rhythm, syncopated and relentless, crunch and run up the slope churning as they go. The deep burgundy stones sound like triangles played by grade-schoolers. The blue ones resonate with the crying of the gulls.

Money flutters in her hand as she spreads the bills for coffee. And brioche spread with lox and capers. Crinkle paper folds in chaotic lines with breakfast stuffed into her purse. Three salty pearls sneak out and burrow into the photo album of her late husband who worked the North Sea oil rigs. Rainbows of chloride cloud a halo around Jonathan’s head as he waves from a steel tower.

Popcorn kernels, failing to mate, turn black and fallow hoping to ride a white noduled curd into your mouth.

Cinnamon infiltrates the smallest notches of your olfactory system, it squeezes in so that it might burn a hole.

Venus will crush you if you give her a chance.

The Gulf Stream longs to salt the calves of a sleeping Hemingway, cigar wedged between ring and fuck-you finger. In the sand a bottle of caramel rum sits angled like an Atlas rocket toward Havana, where his mistress awaits munching anchovies on toast. She will wait ’till morning, but no longer.