Jim Murray

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Is Social Media Killing Genuine Philosophical Thought?

Is Social Media Killing Genuine Philosophical Thought?[ BULLET PROOF]<br />
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Change Your Thinking<br />
For The Better<br />
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Jim Murray, Partner<br />
P: (289) 687-3475<br />
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E: jim@bulletproofconsulting.ca<br />
W: bulletproofconsulting.ca<br />
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SK: jimbobmuré1If you can believe it this is the 32nd Edition of this column started by Phil and I way back in the days when blogging in the Lumpy Kingdom actually got you some readership. Since then we have discovered that you actually reach more people on LinkedIn with op-ed blogs by posting on beBee and then sharing them to your LI newsfeed than you can by publishing them in the black hole that has become LinkedIn Pulse. No charge for the valuable blogging tip, and no charge for the hopefully solid reading experience you will have from here to the end of this post. The best things in life really are free. LOL.

e259de9e.pngHe Said...He Said<br />
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Conversations Across<br />
Usa The 49th Parallel CANADA<br />
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Pal ‘Grumpy’ Pricdman Jim Grouchy” MurrayJIM: A while ago, I saw this speech by superstar astrophysicist, Neal De Gras Tyson in which he expressed a concern over the amount of what he called ‘Fuzzy Thinking’ that was going on these days.

Now granted, his concern was mainly in the area of scientific thinking, but it did make some very good points. And since you and I could loosely be classed as philosophical thinkers, at least in the part time sense, I was just wondering if you agree or disagree with my postulation that a lot of that same fuzzy thinking could be infecting philosophical and intellectual arguments, not so much in the traditional academic media, but in the more populist areas of social media where a lot of blogging takes place.

If you like we could use beBee as an example. So the questions are A) Do we actually see a lot of philosophical thought on display here, and B) Being professional writers and part time philosophers, how do we perceive the level of fuzziness of the thinking we see here?

0d37a7be.pngPHIL: Well, Jim, that’s a pretty a loaded question for me, especially given some of my history with beBee.

But that said, let me try to answer as objectively and candidly as I can.

Both you and I have academic degrees in philosophy. Which means that at one time or another before the invention of dirt, we each learned to value critical discussion and thought. Not that we always or even ever practice it, just that we value it.

I would never say that formal academic training in philosophy represents anything pivotal. However, I do think it fair to say that, as a result of formally studying philosophy, we (and some others) might be less inclined to accept obscure expressions of inscrutable “fuzzy” thinking as “deep”.

As you well know, one of my favorite quotes is:

“Do not mistake obscurity for depth of thought, nor shallowness for clarity.” (From The Wisdom of Chung King, circa 450 AD).

As I see it, a major problem, here on beBee and on social media in general, is that so many writers and readers do precisely that, namely, infer that, because they don’t or can’t understand what’s said, it must be profound.

All while more and more writers and would-be “deep thinkers” play on that tendency in their repeated attempts to demonstrate how bullshit baffles brains.

Consider the following passage:

“Intellect is like a Royal Palm tree. Its trunk grows quickly under the right conditions as a single, branchless post, to serious heights. The Royal Palm keeps its food-producing green fronds at its top where they are best exposed to the sun for the photosynthesis that ultimately feeds the tree. Thus ideas are best spawned by the intellect out in the open where the sun best reaches to warm and feed them… and where they last until sufficiently dried to be separated from the main body and may fall to the ground as the detritus of thought.” (The Eight Elements of Intellectual Growth, Opaque Publishing, 2013.)

Of course, this paragraph is pure, unadulterated BS. Yet, how many readers on beBee or elsewhere on Social Media are likely to call it out as such? Or even ask for a clarification from its author?

6ca1adbb.pngJIM: I have this theory about TV series. It goes something like this. Almost every TV series that has lasted longer than 4 or 5 seasons has pretty much ended up becoming a caricature of itself.

What this means, to me at least, is that the writers and sometimes even the actors, just plain wear out. They all start out with this strong philosophical position. They were gonna right a wrong or two, open some eyes, make a social statement or three, whatever. But what they find is that pretty soon those lofty motives get buried under the avalanche of pressure to perform, keep the ratings up, etc.

They try all kinds of things to keep it going because it’s profitable for them to do so as long as they are getting the ratings, but the more discerning viewers always catch on pretty quick, lose interest and move onto the next thing. Unfortunately a lot of those discerning viewers are critics and by pointing out what’s really going on, only hasten the show’s demise.

The same, IMHO again, is true to varying degrees for content creation in social media. Most people are not, at their cores, actual, card carrying writers, which means that they are not being held aloft my some substantial philosophical motivation. So at some point along the road, many of them start slowing down, losing their edge and sometimes, like many of the people we often wonder about, drop out altogether.

The problem isn’t so much about bullshit, because that’s pretty easy to spot. It’s kind of about the desperation that starts to manifest when you know you’re in a bit over your head and you start to listen to too many full of shit digital marketers tossing out crap like “it’s a marathon, not a sprint”, and convincing people that if they can only hang in there, their so called ‘personal brand’ will become the doorway to fame and fortune that everybody will beat a path to.

I know this because I have seen it in action for years.

Social media sites run on the content their users provide. Always have and always will. Now I don’t begrudge those sites, because I’m a businessman and I get that this is a business.

What I do despise is the parasitic digital marketing community that keep on dangling carrots in front of basically unsuspecting people, baffling their brains with bullshit about how they can build their business in social media if they just do A B C D E F G H I and J. And do them religiously (with their help of course). And do them for fucking ever.

After a while a lot of people just plain run out of stuff to post about. But they have to keep going because, they are invested and that’s how the game works, isn’t it?

And all the while, the quality of their output droops, the ‘personal branding’ goes flat, and you end up pretty much where we are now, with the good stuff, the stuff worth reading, the stuff you can actually get something out of or which creates real intelligent interaction, becoming more and more scarce.

Add the people who are just naturally full of shit to that mix, and here we are, up to our eyeballs in useless and pointless content.

And for what? I still haven’t figured that out yet. Maybe we should ask Mark Zuckerberg or any of the honchos at LinkedIn, who are laughing all the way to the bank.

So I guess my answer to the title question would be. It’s not social media so much as all the bullshit surrounding it that kills content and ergo philosophical thought.

e0ac5bda.pngPHIL: In other words, bovem de stercore ego ergo sum. (Descartes is rolling over in his grave, either laughing hysterically or gagging, take your pick.)

Seriously though, since we’re speaking philosophically, I think “mangle” is a more apt than “kill”. For from time to time I actually see on Social Media expressions of genuinely incisive contemporary philosophical thought. The writings of Sam Harris are one example.

But let me ask you this. If you feel that strongly about the rising levels of effluent here on beBee and on Social Media in general, why do you expend as much effort as you do encouraging and helping people to write? After all, based on your oft-cited 80/20 rule, encouraging people to write and publish online increases the BS at a rate four times that of the worthwhile product you may facilitate.

Wait! Don’t answer that just yet because it’s a trick question. For I already know that you believe writing is good for the psyche and the soul (if indeed they are not the same, a philosophical question in itself). And that being the kind of fellow you are, you want to help others gain at least some of the benefits and satisfactions from writing you have.

Now, I am not saying what you do in this respect is the same as what self-styled “social marketing” gurus do when they convince people they have to publish, publish, publish (even if what they publish is crap) — or perish in the marketplace. However, I am asking if perhaps you aren’t being just a teeny weensy bit self-righteous about this.

Perhaps the root of the problem is not so much the purveyors of BS advice on Social Media — the digital and social marketing gurus — as it is the inability of people who have grown up exclusively during the digital age of computer gaming and virtual reality to discern the difference between fantasy and reality. Or between BS and substantive (philosophical) thought.

2105b3cc.pngJIM: OK, Mr Latin with no translation, first of all I’m not so much encouraging people to write as I am trying to help them avoid writing crap. The philosophy behind doing that is a strictly ‘reducto ad crapo’.

My motivation is not as egalitarian as you might think either. I’m just interested in making the world a place that has less crap in it. The fact that I judge there to be too much crap out there is probably self righteous to a degree. But mostly it’s in aid of not having to sift through so much shallow and fuzzy thinking to get to the stuff worth reading. I consider this a noble calling.

There is, at least in social media, always going to be a scarcity of truly meaningful writing and deep commentary. I know this because, well, all you have to do is look. It’s there in all its pathetic glory. In point of fact, you, Mr Phil, are one of the very few people I know who is capable generating high levels level of deepish discourse on a consistent basis.

Sometimes you pay the price for it, by attracting assholes. And sometimes you fall prey to the short-sightedness of the people who for whatever reason view your work, the powerful personal brand you have created and the scary capability you have of defending your various points of view as intimidating or offputting. Fuck them.

From my own point of view, I don’t consider my writing philosophical. In fact I pride myself on having unlearned a lot of that over the years. If it is fun for people to read…if it gives them some sort of takeaway, good or bad, I don’t care, then I’m happy.

We both know a lot about writing. I learn from you by reading your work and paying attention how you build arguments and tell stories. Your writing makes people think deeply because it actually is philosophical and intelligent.

I don’t always apply that same sort of thinking, but I do appreciate it when I see it. I also don’t see anything wrong with sharing knowledge, and basically giving it away. But I believe it might be just human nature to feel that way.

This is a long haul for anyone who decides they want to be a writer. A lot of words, a lot of thinking, a lot of crap and a lot of miles to travel. If you can help anyone along that road, why wouldn’t you? Especially if you can get to enjoy the results that ensue in the work of the people who may have taken your advice and actually pulled off this writing thing.

Post Script:

To everybody out there who has come this far, my parting shot is a double-barreled bit of advice.

Barrel one: Dig deep, into your research, into your heart and soul, and try to pull out the stuff that’s buried there.

Barrel two. Look for depth in the stuff you read. Insist on it. Hold other writers accountable for their words and their points of view.

Why? Because the headline of this post is a true thing. And it’s up to all of us to do our best to keep it from actually happening.

Thanks, Phil. This was fun.

Jim Murray and Phil Friedman created this post series as a public service, to provide their perspectives on the business side, and sometimes the social side, of social media and business in general. Both Jim and Phil are experienced entrepreneurs and former corporate executives, professional writers, high impact bloggers and human beings. These posts represent their professional opinions. All comments are welcome and, in fact, encouraged.


In addition to being a beBee Brand Ambassador, Jim Murray is a marketer and creative professional. His partner, Charlene Norman is marketing strategist and operations tactician. Their collaboration, Bullet Proof Consulting, specializes in Brand Engineering: Helping companies achieve more effective branding, stronger reputation management, greater productivity, higher efficiencies, and ultimately, increased profits. In short, Bullet Proof helps companies change their thinking for the better. Find out more at www.bulletproofconsulting.ca

915efd95.pngAll content and graphics copyright Jim Murray & Phil Friedman 2017. All rights reserved.


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Comments
Jerry Fletcher

Jerry Fletcher

3 years ago #42

You sucked me in guys! I have no formal training in Logic so I have no way to give you some Latin phrase that 'splains where this little tete a tete left me. Seems to me that no matter what the writer intends it is the takeaway of the audience that matters. Too often, the story we want to tell or the point we want to make is not what is read, heard or absorbed. The best we can do is state the facts in simple direct language knowing that is the closest we can come to the output we are hoping for.

Milos Djukic

Milos Djukic

3 years ago #41

Respect others to be respected.

Milos Djukic

Milos Djukic

3 years ago #40

#40
True Wayne Yoshida.

Wayne Yoshida

Wayne Yoshida

3 years ago #39

#38
Jim Murray - yes - pen being mightier than the sword thing

Milos Djukic

Milos Djukic

3 years ago #38

Writing and posting on social media are more like teaching and mutual shaping of perception rather than activism against a very personal and often non-objective perception of BS. Even when we disagree, exchange of opinions brings us closer. What we need is all the authority with none of the fright and all the respect with none of resentment. We also need to change our behavior in order to ensure the best fit. Yes, we need very high quality of the written word, and that is certainly not exclusivity and intolerance. Quite contrary. Discussion and appreciation of others' attitudes and thoughts, including selectively and personally characterized BS. Each writer has the responsibility for designating which information should remain within articles. The need to write on social media may be something quite abstract or very intimate, but also a source of money, success and fame. The essence is in balance. After all, everyone chooses their motives and intentions. If someone believes that he writes for himself or in promotional purposes, it is his legitimate right. It is very easy for a writer to surrender in front of the pervasive and intoxicating magnetism of superficiality. Even then, everyone is personally responsible for creating content that one might characterize, with or without valid reason, as a BS, or in any other inappropriate way.

Jim Murray

Jim Murray

3 years ago #37

Wayne Yoshida...all writing is serious. Writing is an elegant blood sport.:)

Milos Djukic

Milos Djukic

3 years ago #36

#29
Wayne Yoshida, I am not a serious writer and I agree with you.

Lada 🏡 Prkic

Lada 🏡 Prkic

3 years ago #35

#35
Wayne, I said it is in the MIND of the beholder. So yes, I meant on the space between the ears. :-)

Wayne Yoshida

Wayne Yoshida

3 years ago #34

#31
Lada \ud83c\udfe1 Prkic - That's it! BS is in the eye of the beholder! But the space between the ears must be engaged.

Wayne Yoshida

Wayne Yoshida

3 years ago #33

#30
Randall Burns Uh oh. Randy - I hear that can opener going.

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #32

#31
I think the important thing, Lada \ud83c\udfe1 Prkic to be one as well -- witness the language he uses regularly. :-)

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #31

#29
I agree with you, Wayne Yoshida, on this particular point. Just because a lot of "soft-headed" writing is published on Social Media doesn't mean that is all that should or could be published on it. When I first started on LinkedIn, I participated (and managed) several marine-industry professional groups, where many serious and valuable discussions took place and a lot of "hard" information was shared. Of course, those were moderated groups with membership by request and approval only. The problem is that many people work on the assumption that everything published on Social Media is a completely open forum where anyone can join to say anything they want, whether germane or not or outright BS. Cheers!

Lada 🏡 Prkic

Lada 🏡 Prkic

3 years ago #30

#27
Don't worry, Phil. I'm not discouraged. Besides, BS for one, good stuff for the other. Can we say that BS lies in the mind of the beholder? I like your thought about the search for truth. So beautifully stated and it's true. Who says that social media kills philosophical thought? Comments like this just prove the opposite.

Randall Burns

Randall Burns

3 years ago #29

#25
#27 Your comment Lada \ud83c\udfe1 Prkic caused a revelation, (hopefully I'm not opening a "can of worms" with this); "One (wo)man's epiphany/philosophy is another (wo)man's Bullshit!" :-)

Wayne Yoshida

Wayne Yoshida

3 years ago #28

#17
Milos Djukic - that is some good food for thought. But I am not sure about the statement about serious writers - who focus is elsewhere. Isn't social media another outlet for one's writing, no matter how serious - or not serious the writer is? Do you think this may be a "generation" or "age" thing? Ie., "old writer" = not on social media; "young writer" = is on social media. "Old writer" = Not much experience "Young writer" = More experience

Jim Murray

Jim Murray

3 years ago #27

#27
Phil Friedman. I believe that we let our ideas be kicked around on a regular basis. It is our good fortune to have developed some facility for kicking back. And so it goes all the way to, hopefully, some form of common ground. I tend to be provocative with my headlines (which this one was) for the sake of capturing interest. Some digital market taught me that. LOL.

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #26

#25
Lada \ud83c\udfe1 Prkic, My comments here are not to discourage writers from publishing — even BS. My point is strictly to admonish readers (and other writers) not to accept and even compliment BS in the name in the false god of Constant Positivity. The philosophical approach is not to hold your tongue until your certain, but rather to understand that you can never be entirely so and that the search for truth is ever open and ongoing. So if you have an idea, throw it out there and let it be kicked around. In my experience, it is only the merchants of BS who cannot stand to be challenged, as has been demonstrated time and time again on beBee and LinkedIn. Cheers!

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #25

#20
This is one point on which we disagree, Jim Murray points out, that the ownersip and management of SM platforms are not content to allow what I call “Volkspublising” run its natural course, but insread seek to manipulate the results to maximize even mindless activity in the quest for activity and the profit that accretes to it. Cheers!

Lada 🏡 Prkic

Lada 🏡 Prkic

3 years ago #24

Great writing as always. There is a lot to think about in your post. I can't say I agree with the statement that because of your formal education in Philosophy, you two might be less inclined to accept "fuzzy" thinking as “deep”. It's more related to common sense and intelligence as well. After reading all this, one has to ask themselves how to write again without thinking whether what's written worth posting or is BS. One may dig deep into their heart and soul, and pulls out the stuff that’s buried there, and still not be sure. I have to think deeply before going to write another post on beBee. :-) The one thing comforts me is that to get better at anything is to keep doing it. So is with writing, at least I hope.

Milos Djukic

Milos Djukic

3 years ago #23

People are always the same, perfect in their imperfection.

Milos Djukic

Milos Djukic

3 years ago #22

So my answer is, yes, it kill genuine philosophical thought by using sophisticated methods (carrots, Pavlov’s conditioned reflexes, influencer marketing, selected content promotions, algorithms, AI, and content marketing are included).

Milos Djukic

Milos Djukic

3 years ago #21

#20
Very true, it's actually a shot at point-blank range.

Milos Djukic

Milos Djukic

3 years ago #20

#18
Thank you @Martina Baxter. That's how i see that.

Jim Murray

Jim Murray

3 years ago #19

#19
One of the best things about social media is that everybiody's opinion get's heard. Whether it gets agreed with is another matter.

Milos Djukic

Milos Djukic

3 years ago #18

Therefore, social media is not a fertile ground for philosophical debates. Actually, It's not interesting for the most users and for all owners. A fruitful critical discussions is the maximum that can be expected. And that's also very rare.

Milos Djukic

Milos Djukic

3 years ago #17

Much has been said about nothing in social media. Social media are a funny game for the masses. I said once, that the main characteristics of today's writing in social media are: a) Lightweight pastime, nothing more; b) Nicely packed, colorful and controversial nonsense; and c) Amateurism of a painless white noise information. And for the good reasons, precisely 3 reasons. Reason 1: Serious writers do not write in social media, since serious writers are completely committed to their craft elsewhere; Reason 2: There are really a limited number of fertile authors whose articles in social media retain high quality during prolonged time; and Reason 3: Quality writing is not what the social media owners want or support, they want only more content (see a), b), and c) above), in the aim of a higher profit.

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #16

#13
BTW, Harvey, that is another portion of BS that is foisted upon us by modern millennial digital marketing, namely, that Boomers no longer represent a viable market. Pure BS. If you look at the stats, the "Market" is all over the place in the age column... unless you're looking to sell mobile phones and video games. Thanks for reading and commenting. Cheers!

Jim Murray

Jim Murray

3 years ago #15

#14
Thanks Randall Burns. You are right and I believe that's probably where we would have ended up of we had decided to go longer. But readers filling in the blanks works for me too. Cheers, man.

Randall Burns

Randall Burns

3 years ago #14

Great post Phil Friedman, thought provoking indeed! I don't believe that social media is killing genuine philosophical thought, it is still out there and I do come across it, (this post included), what I do think is that social media has created the access for Bullshit to come to the forefront more easily. There has always been BS out there, tons of it originating from the time that man began to think, sign language and grunt; it is a part of us. Social media has just given equal footing to it and to actual thinking/philosophical concepts, now we just have to develop the BS filters into social media that are already inherent/ingrained into our psyche/mentality from eons of training and practice. Great post Boys!

Harvey Lloyd

Harvey Lloyd

3 years ago #13

I sense a conundrum. Although agree with the BS concept that it is bad, i am challenged though that the market is now demanding the BS. In higher circles of influence i would think it is BS. But at the consumer level BS sells. The masses appear to enjoy the BS of marketing. Philosophy is either the study of how one believes it should be or marketing in a manner that sells. If you need groceries on the table, the choice appears obvious. As always it was a pleasure to read the thoughts of two great folks. But you do realize we are no longer the target market? Unless you are in the market for a hover round.

don kerr

don kerr

3 years ago #12

Phil Friedman Y'all have progressed so far from just a couple of grumpy old farts! Well done. This is a thought-provoking piece and perhaps one of the best in the history of HSHS.

Wayne Yoshida

Wayne Yoshida

3 years ago #11

#9
Charlene Norman -- L O L ! !

Milos Djukic

Milos Djukic

3 years ago #10

"Do not mistake obscurity for depth of thought, nor shallowness for clarity." (From The Wisdom of Chung King, circa 450 AD). "All while more and more writers and would-be “deep thinkers” play on that tendency in their repeated attempts to demonstrate how bullshit baffles brains." - Phil Friedman "What I do despise is the parasitic digital marketing community that keep on dangling carrots in front of basically unsuspecting people, baffling their brains with bullshit about how they can build their business in social media if they just do A B C D E F G H I and J." - Jim Murray The agony and the ecstasy of social media writing: 1. "Writing is an act of internal needs of the individual." 2. "The written word is the most powerful weapon in the hands of those who strive for truth." 3. "Maybe our writing is blatantly trivial to capture someone's attention or imagination." 4. "Mediocrity is an inherent characteristic of everyone's creations." 5. "As long as someone's pen carries a personal touch and insight, there is a hope that an expression will be recognized as а valid." 6. "One word can make a miracle or a misery, similarly as a love." 7. "Education is what gives people hope. It is the only treasure that can bring progress." 8. "Before you can change the world you have to change yourself." 9. "Teaching is the most impressive way to help people." 10. "Only if we learn, we progress." 11. "Only enigmatic time will reveal the results of each thought, including this one." - from "About People, Social Writing and Mindfulness", LinkedIn long-form post published December 16, 2014 (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/people-social-writing-milos-djukic/)

Charlene Norman

Charlene Norman

3 years ago #9

Wayne Yoshida. I even use it myself. Carry on.

Wayne Yoshida

Wayne Yoshida

3 years ago #8

#4
Charlene Norman - Google Translate says: "bovem de stercore ego ergo sum" = "One out of the dirt, then I am" -- and - dirt / fertilizer comes from - well, you know. Jim's "reducto ad crapo" doesn't translate, but I think we can get that one....

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #7

#4
Charlene Norman, it’s half-assed Latin for “I bullshit therefore I am”. I copied it off the inscription on a “Whammy”, the award statue given at the annual Social Media Writers Awards gala in Buttpoke, Montana. Cheers!

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #6

#2
And oh yes, Wayne Yoshida, thinking that Jim and I could get together and stick to a narrowly focused topic is itself a prime example of ”fuzzy” logic. Smarten up, bubba. 😆

Phil Friedman

Phil Friedman

3 years ago #5

#2
Yes, Wayne Yoshida, the web is not those who would restrict and filter it. That would be about as effective as US Prohibition. No, the real danger is those who would trivialize it for profit. Cheers!

Charlene Norman

Charlene Norman

3 years ago #4

Phil Friedman Good to see you are finally back in full on form! Way to go guys.

Jim Murray

Jim Murray

3 years ago #3

#2
Thanks Wayne...Sorry about the fuzzy thinking read-bait. But we both consider that part of the degradation process of being forced to provide so much content and a fairly high frequency, if you course, one buys into the digital marketing mantras.

Wayne Yoshida

Wayne Yoshida

3 years ago #2

Jim Murray - thank you for this installment of He Said, He Said. I thought this was going to be a discussion on fuzzy logic. Nevermind. One has to look at the Comments section on any post in any social media platform - or even websites that invite comments - to see the lemming-like behavior and head nodders/head bobbers. The Lumpy Kingdom - and other sites - encourages this behavior by providing mindless buttons to boink. Phil, I knew the palm tree analogy was BS because you left out the need for fertilizer for tree growth. Jim, your TV show thing makes sense. The Sopranos and Moonlighting are just 2 examples of great shows starting out very different, new and interesting, and later - poof - the show disintegrates into crap and then ends.

Pascal Derrien

Pascal Derrien

3 years ago #1

You guys are real truth knights and it s a compliment because I too witness what you describe but I have no time nor willingness to antagonise with the BS producers because 1) there are too many of them 2) refer to 1 . A good one as usual

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