Suggested Audio ♫
Kraftwerk “The Robots”
WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE! My apologies for dropping such a bombshell before you’ve even taken your coats off but something wicked this way comes and I feel it is my civic duty to place it right at the very top of today’s agenda. The fact that I’m even talking to you now means I’m placing myself in grave danger and there are likely 1,000 eyes on me at this very moment, preparing to strike without mercy. Fuck it, I’m more than happy to take one for the team if it’s for the greater good.
Besides, someone has to blow the whistle on these bot fucks before they return humanity to the dark ages. These may sound like the paranoid ramblings of a conspiracy theorist but, I assure you, all the sandwiches are in the hamper so to speak and I even packed a picnic blanket to assist in making this rendezvous look inconspicuous. It’s unfortunate that I’m forced to operate in such an underhand manner to voice my concerns but it’s not like I’ve been left a great deal of choice here.
It was so much easier in the Eighties. Back then, there was no such thing as the worldwide web and, in the United Kingdom at least, the term “bot” denoted something far less technologically wired. Along with its slightly more showy stablemate “botty”, it was a term of endearment for our asses, and the very worst crime it would commit would be speaking out of turn in crowded elevators or make or break board meetings and smelling a little funny when unwashed for a long enough period.
Indeed, of all the human anatomy, the bot ranked right alongside boobies in the top three body parts to jiggle and could do precious little wrong in my eyes. All hail the bot then? Not so fast my little fanny packers. You see, something went wrong around the turn of the dreaded nineties and these three little letters metamorphosed into something considerably less cheery and inoffensive. Suddenly, “smacking a bot” was no longer an advisable pastime, as the bots now had the ability to smack back.
I hold my hands up to being none the wiser as to their mischievous plans at the time and almost thirty years have now passed since the new age bots first landed, all of which have been spent in a perpetual state of blissful oblivion. To be fair, the internet and I weren’t especially intimate for the majority of that dry spell, and it felt like a playground for mostly harmless shenanigans. Granted, there were a few wrong ‘uns lurking about in the long reeds, licking their lips. But these bogus users seemed as few as they were far between and the very height of their treachery was ill-communication and perhaps a spot of catfishing.
Don’t even get me started on that diversion as I used to be fond of these glum-faced shark bait too until their description took on far darker meaning. Nowadays, the art of catfishing relies on your ability to compose tweets as a seventeen-year-old stud looking for love when you’re really a middle-aged trucker searching for unsuspecting victims to hoodwink. While it’s all deeply sinister, the amount of rods cast are relatively few, and most of us can go about our business without a solitary whiff of chicanery. But you can’t create a worldwide web without tossing in a couple of other undesirables, just to keep us all on our toes.
Back in the day, trolling was an activity relegated to the whispering shadows beneath bridges and only billy goats had any real cause for concern. Fast forward thirty years and the little fucks have come out of hiding, with the intention of running rife and spoiling everyone’s social harvest. I find the block button wonderfully efficient in the removal of such nonentities and seldom spare them a solitary thought, if I’m honest. But it’s all the more reason to remain hyper vigilant.
Personally, it’s not in my nature to be suspicious with every new person I meet, as the thrill of taking suchlike leaps of faith far outweighs the sinking feeling of dropping straight into a quagmire. I’ve rubbed many shoulders in my time and some of them have admittedly been rather prickly. Does that deter me from rubbing some more? Not at all, I just pay a little extra mind to the selection process. Whether catfish or troll matters not a jot to me as, once you peel these labels back, they still embark on a morning bowel movement like anyone else and therefore ain’t so scary.
Now bots on the other hand, well these little scuzballs are beginning to flog my firewall and I make it high time to call them out for loitering with malicious intent. Actually, I can’t tar them all with the same brush as there is much to be said about good bots and their tireless dedication to the advancement of search engine navigation. That said, if they think I’m going to apply the lipstick and start blowing them kisses, then they’ve got another thing coming.
You see, while I appreciate the hard work that goes into ensuring that pretty much anything our hearts desire is merely a button click away, it would be nice if they had the good manners to let any other bugger into their secret. Habitual bloggers like myself put our blood, sweat and tears into presenting our art in as desirable a manner as possible, in the vain hope that a handful of good bots will pay us a visit and direct a little bonus traffic our way. We know not how to attract them, how to ensure that their stay is restful, and how to invite them back on a bi-weekly basis to hook our shit up to a wider audience. It’s all just a rather perplexing mystery.
Then we have the bad bots and these little bastards aren’t looking to throw us a bone, merely to upset the natural order and cause all manner of grievous harm. If you can tell a lot about a person from the company they keep, then the rowdy rabble these pernicious parasites knock about with speak volumes for them also. We’re talking viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and spyware – a quartet capable of striking fear into any operating system.
Among their favorite activities are harvesting email addresses from our contacts, sucking away our bandwidth by downloading entire websites and automatically posting inflammatory comments on forums just to start a fight. Given that the internet is virtually impossible to police effectively, bad bots can do pretty much whatever they please with little or no resistance. Like their less nefarious counterparts, they are protected by almost complete anonymity and that makes them a significant threat to all users.
Bizarrely enough, I think I actually prefer bad bots to good. At least with them, there is no confusion as to their intentions, whereas good bots pledge their allegiance to making shit better and wind up doing the precise opposite. Take Twitter for example, a social platform which has made a habit of frustrating me to the nth degree and beyond. Over the past year or so, it has become increasingly difficult to promote or share as the powers of be view my actions on their network as spamming.
Should I mail my work out more than one time, then it simply disappears from the feeds of others with nothing resembling an explanation forthcoming. While I get the amount of manpower it would take to keep such a bloated network running tickety-boo, a dash of human support certainly wouldn’t go amiss. Instead, we are left at the mercy of these do-gooding bots and expected to suck it up like chumps.
I wouldn’t mind if they had the common courtesy to introduce themselves but bots have no inclination whatsoever to slum it with the likes of us. You cannot rhyme or reason with them, strike a deal or come to an understanding. It’s simply their way or the highway. I may be disgruntled by their constant meddling, but I’m also enough of a realist to know that ultimately there ain’t a damn thing I can do about it.
Actually that’s not strictly true as I still possess the power to bitch and gripe about them, should I so wish. But it’s just not my style to do so. Hence, this is designed more as a gentle dig than full-on attack and devised in the hope that I can strike a few chords along the way. Sometimes it’s just nice to know that you’re not alone and the more people who know the score, the more that can construct a Trojan horse of their own in the event of it all going Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Like it or not, bots are here to stay. Moreover, it has been estimated that, a decade or so down the line, they’ll be able to mimic human behavior and I find that a rather disturbing prediction. Until that time comes, they’ll continue to flood our servers and dictate the state of play unbeknownst to us. So what can we do to combat this? Well, not a lot I’m afraid. You may recall I started this address with WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE! and nothing much has changed during the interim. That gives us ten years or so before we begin to mysteriously disappear one-by-one, only to be replaced with A.I. and I fully intend on making the most of my time.
So here’s my plan and it’s just crazy enough that it might get me committed. I say we dial things back to the eighties, before the worldwide web became commonplace, when bots had rosy red cheeks and made quaint little noises using nowt but the power of toot. Imagine the bedlam if #BringBackTheBot started trending on Twitter and they were the last ones to know. Perhaps all they need is a spot of healthy competition in order to rethink their strategy. Then once skirmish becomes inevitable, they could fall in cheek to cheek on the frontlines and take one in the ass for the team.
After all, this is our land. A land of peace and of plenty. A land of harmony and hope. This is our land. These are our people. The workers, the strivers, the builder’s bums of our world, struggling, farting, bleeding, dying. On the streets of our cities and on the far-flung battlefields. Fighting against the mutilation of our hopes and dreams. Bring it you bot fucks and, to make things more interesting, I’ll raise you with one of my own. Naturally I have selected a behemoth of gargantuan measurements to lead the charge and this fearsome fanny has the power to cause widespread devastation just by parting its cheeks alone. They call it the Badonkadonk.
Not since the Jabberwocky soared the skies has mankind been exposed to a beast so formidable. A single well-timed twerk can measure on the Richter scale and that just so happens to be the Badonkadonk’s favorite pastime. Feed it too much roughage and we could be looking at explosion on a thermonuclear scale but mercifully it chooses its battles wisely and makes no bones about which side it represents. Should any wayward bots be listening in now (and I have a sneaking suspicion they are), then just be aware that the Badonkadonk is a very real thing and should be handled with kit gloves at all times. Make it nervous and it will relinquish its vile toxins; make it angry and it’ll make you wish you didn’t.
Be you good bot or bad bot, my advice to you is to be a smart bot. Feel free to peruse my online history, rifle through my downloads, and label me a spammer when my sole aspiration is to spread a little goodwill. I certainly won’t be shaking my fist in anger. Why should I when I carry a pocketful of cruciferous vegetables on my person at all times? You ever been hit in the cheekbone by a speeding brussel sprout? How many broccoli stems do you think it would take for the Badonkadonk to do its absolute worst? I may even toss in a glass of curdled milk for good measure; just to give this foul beast the runs.
Now if you don’t mind fucking off back to your leader and report your findings like a good little bot; then I can get back to my perpetual frustration. Just one more thing before you scuttle off sheepishly back into the void – I’d like to see some I.D. please. Don’t blame me, it’s just protocol and you should be more than familiar with that by now. Driving license will suffice or anything with a photo and home address will do just fine. What’s that? Coming up a little light on the identification front are you? Well now, that really is most unfortunate. Yo Badonkadonk, we’ve got a live one over here. Says it’s had its wallet stolen. No rush, you finish that asparagus smoothie first and I’ll go grab my gas mask.
Richard Charles Stevens
Keeper of The Crimson Quill
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