The war in Ukraine shows no sign of letting up soon. And this recent missile strike on a shopping mall in central Ukraine is just pure terrorism. What is the difference between this week’s Kremenchuk nightmare and that of 911 in NYC? If this shopping mall happened to have been in America the world would change overnight. No one would have anything to do with Russia ever again. So the fact that Russia still does business with the world is just mind boggling.

Zelensky: Kremenchuk strike ‘one of the most daring terrorist acts in European history.’ President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly address that a strike on a mall in the city of Kremenchuk was deliberate and is “one of the most daring terrorist acts in European history.” “Peaceful city, ordinary shopping center, women inside, children, ordinary civilians. This is not a mistaken hit of missiles. This is a planned Russian strike at this shopping center,” Zelensky said.

Russia is over, in my view. The war will end at some point and who will ever do business in Russia again. Who could ever trust them. Yes, many Western firms are still operating in Russia and it is disgusting. But I think a lot of those companies will start to wind down their Russian operations sometime this year. When enough innocent people die things will change. I wonder what that number is … ?!

How the G-7 can tip the scales toward Ukraine

“Moscow’s economy has declined, but Russia’s sales of commodities will keep Vladimir Putin’s regime supplied with the necessities of war for a long time. Ukraine’s productive capacity, on the other hand, has collapsed between 40 to 50 percent. Almost 13 million Ukrainians have fled their homes. Kyiv cannot export most of its harvest to earn foreign currency. The best guesses are that Ukraine needs between $5 billion and $6 billion in assistance each month just to stay afloat. Nevertheless, heroic Ukrainians have managed to maintain basic governmental functions while supporting an army at war.”


What was the point … ?!

I think I was on Facebook for around 10 years, and Instagram for about 6 years. I certainly had a few laughs. I never really posted anything personal and often would enjoy a few jokes and get some news flashes. But I did have this constant nagging feeling that it was an unhealthy thing, with many dark sides, and that the world would be better off with out it. I never needed social media to be in business or make friends so when Facebook deleted me, I didn’t panic. I did sigh though and wonder about the world we live in. An AI bot must have zapped me because I posted an off kilter joke. Hardly the crime of the century, and considering my intention was to make people laugh, the sentence does seem a bit extreme. But the Zuck knows best, clearly. Now he looks like a guy who can make you laugh.

I have been off social media for 10 days now and I wonder what I actually was doing. I don’t feel I am missing anything. Is Facebook all about ego? Do we all need affirmation all the time? Was I like everyone else? Of course, we all have an ego, and every human being has insecurities. Was Facebook helping me to deal with mine? I am still thinking about this. I am discussing this openly here and I wondering what good came from all the years I was on Facebook. Did I learn a new skill or master a craft? Did I connect with people meaningfully or get closer to someone that is important to me. I don’t think so. Why then do we need these platforms? And are people addicted to these things?

I don’t think I ever showed off on Facebook but I know many people that do. Instagram, for example, is full of pictures of people loving life, in glamorous scenarios. Is this for real? Isn’t this insecurity we are seeing. Maybe I am being a bit cynical here, but I happen to know some people that are flashy on social media and their lives are not a bed of roses. So why all the pretending.

I think the youth are particularly vulnerable as these platforms are designed to be a drug. They figure out ways, with scientific precision, to push youngster’s buttons, and get them hooked. I don’t think it is healthy at all. What ever happened to playing outside and kicking a ball around. Those were good days. And it is all there still, ready for us. But the world is online, sadly, and life is passing by.

I used to use Facebook when on the toilet, waiting in a queue somewhere, and when I wanted to share some movie or work related news. It was a way to drum up support for a project, and even if it was slightly effective, I was convinced that every bit helps. I wonder if it did actually make a difference.

Let’s say I spent 10 to 15 minutes a day on Facebook. This is over an hour a week. That is 4 hours a month. That is two days out of the year. When you think of it like that, that is a lot of time. I would rather spend that time with my family and friends. And the Bunster needs all the time he can get with me.

Facebook certainly did provide some form of entertainment but I much rather prefer sitting back and relaxing with a good movie. But there never seems to be time. Hang on – from my simple calculation above I can watch more movies now. And there’s the thing. If you want to watch a film then go to a cinema or a streaming platform. If you want to read then pick up a book. If you want to laugh then check out a comedian. If you want the news then get a newspaper. We don’t need Facebook.

Have all of us become entertainers? Sit down comedians. Was that me? Is that what social media is about? One thing is for sure, everyone has an opinion on Facebook. Everyone has something to say online and some of it is pretty nasty, so best leave it alone. One could get caught up in an argument with people you hardly know, so quickly, and for what. Rather spend time with people and on things you love. Focus on something you are good at. Master a craft. Do something that adds real value to the world. Posting on Facebook adds nothing to the world.

The thing about technology is that it is meant to help us. And this is the paradox of progress. The more ways we invent to save time the less time we actually have. What value does Facebook add to the world? And it certainly does not save us time, so why do we need it? We are all slaves to technology. We need to control it, and not be controlled by it. We need less electronics in our lives. We need less digital and more analogue. Don’t get me wrong. I did have some fun with Facebook and it had some uses. I will miss seeing Greg on the island and Karl’s jokes were often very sharp. I am amazed he has not been kicked off for some of the things he posts. He has a wicked sense of humour – I like it.

What was the end result of my Facebook journey. Nothing. If you invest time in digital worlds it is very easy to land up with everything being erased, in a second. By an algorithm. Better to build things in the physical world, like real relationships, with real people. If you build a tree house it generally lasts but a virtual place, er, space, can very easily come to an abrupt and confusing end. Hackers can remove you and can cause trouble, and AI algorithms can decide you are not wanted anymore and voila, you are gone.

My closing thought: Perhaps Facebook is one big echo chamber.

PS – I usually posted these kind of jokes on Facebook and Instagram – enjoy.

How Ukraine Will Win

Thankfully for Europe and the United States, Ukraine is fighting this dark force, and it is motivated to keep doing so until it wins. But we cannot succeed alone, and the West must understand the stakes and consequences of our failure. If we lose, there will not just be no more Ukraine; there will be no prosperity or security in Europe.


Social experiment

If you want to be social then be social. But social media is a poor virtual substitute these days, which seems to becoming more and more negative. It used to be fun, and was always good for a few laughs when on the toilet, but anxiety amongst the youth is intense due to online peer pressure, and the amount of hate speech and misinformation on all these social platforms is very sad.

I originally joined Facebook because of the movie “Material”. It was a cool, easy way to share updates on the film’s development and progress, and also, to circulate Material news amongst my friends and colleagues. Then, a few years later, I signed up on InstaGram – that too looked like a bit of harmless fun. I used it mainly to share jokes and make people smile. I think I was doing ok. Sometimes I posted something that was not funny and missed the mark. I believe I have a good sense of humour but I can make mistakes. Especially in today’s world where one has to be overly sensitive and careful. God bless political correctness.

A couple of days ago I must have posted something that was considered to be inappropriate by an algorithm. A few minutes later I was locked out of my IG account and also, FB kicked me off too. It did allow me to appeal and now I am waiting to see … from what I read on Google there is a chance I will not be allowed back in. I have never had an issue like this before so I was quite surprised. Let’s see … it could mean that my social media days are coming to an end. If I am not allowed back in then it was not meant to be, and perhaps I should be thankful. I think Facebook and Putin share a common theme: evil.

What a week this been, and it is only Wednesday. Bitcoin is down, which to me is a good barometer on the world markets and global mood. I figure it means that people want their cash under the mattress. Perhaps Mr. Ramaphosa inspired this action. Yes, the markets are heading south and there are very tough times ahead. All that money printing in the US had to catch up with the world at some point. And we are all going to feel the squeeze. Not much to laugh at at the moment, including my last joke posting, apparently. Joke low, inflation high.

The saddest thing for me is the war in Ukraine. People are dying everyday. Innocent, kind folk, and from my perspective, America and the West are paying lip service to Mr. Zelensky, who is trying so hard to persuade the world’s leading countries to help. Ukraine needs weapons, and fast. If Russia wins this war, which I just can’t believe will happen, then what kind of a world are we living in. A disgusting world. And we will all pay the price if evil is allow to triumph over the truth.

That silly InstaGram page of mine was a way to try add some humour to the world. And yes, I didn’t get it right 100% of the time. And alas, I reckon my social media days have been halted, thanks to the Zuck and his amazing algorithms. It was a bit of silly fun while it lasted. Perhaps I will be unbanned, but it doesn’t look like it. Wow, years of mainly cool jokes, and then a dodgy one and bye bye. Doesn’t feel pretty apt. Which was the name of my IG account: PrettyApt (like this blog).

I am not a comedian, but I am quite funny, even f I say so myself. I was thinking: it can’t be easy for comedians these days. Especially online. One has to be so sensitive and so PC. Phew!

I was going to post the alleged rule breaking joke here on my blog but then I realized that WordPress most likely have the same bots. You can email me and I will send you the trouble making meme. If it upsets you please let me know, and if it makes you laugh, please let me know too. You can reach me on ronnie@prettyapt.com. Yes, I understand the problem but I really don’t get the part about go directly to jail. What ever happened to 3 strikes and you’re out?

As my friend Gus said to me, this is definitely a symptom of troubled times and of a company that is outsourcing decision-making to machines. Difficult times ahead, on the big social experiment online and on life in general. The headlines this week are here to stay. The next 6 months are going to be rough.

The folly of “off-ramps”

What happens if Putin decides that he is losing in Ukraine?  He will act to protect himself by declaring victory and changing the subject.  He does not need an off ramp in the real world, because that is not where his power rests.  All he needs to do is change the story in Russia’s virtual world, as he has been doing for decades.  This is just a matter of setting the agenda in a meeting.  In virtual reality there is always an escape route, and for this reason Putin cannot be “cornered.”  (Neither, for that matter, can the actual Russian army in actual Ukraine.  When Russian units are defeated, they just cross back into Russia).