I just don’t get why people would post things that simply serve to illustrate their own stupidity.

But it’s amazing how many things that are on Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn etc are not just wrong, but truly idiotic. The internet is like a giant collective memory. So anything you publish online is likely to follow you around forever. Your views are available to anyone who can tap a keyboard. Which is why it’s even more astonishing what you find on social sites.

Last summer, when the Commonwealth Games were on in Glasgow, ScotRail did some lovely advertising to strengthen their sponsorship link with the Games. Here are a couple of the images.

Cambus-langjump

Cambus-langjump

Pole-vault

Pole-vault

They’re lovely. They didn’t cost a lot, as they only changed one sign at the station (so they didn’t confuse visitors to Scotland). I only managed to take a couple of pictures of the stations myself, so I went looking online for the rest of the pics. And on Facebook there were people quite happy to revel in their own stupidity. Comments like “councils wasting money” – thus demonstrating they have no idea how our transport network operates (and is funded).

There’s even one saying “That’s the wrong spelling! Why?”

Now I’m used to people bitching and being nasty / stupid while remaining anonymous online. But to do it logged in as yourself? Let’s hope when they go for a job interview their prospective employer doesn’t look too hard at their online footprint. It’s the online equivalent of running down the street where you live with a dunce’s cap on.

And I saw another example on Frankie Boyle’s Election Autopsy programme. Here are the screen grabs that tell it better than I ever could.

Poland Day 1

Poland Day 1

Poland Day 2

Poland Day 2

Poland Day 3

Poland Day 3

Poland Day 4

Poland Day 4

How dumb are some people? I guess you could put this one down to a simple mishearing. But why wouldn’t you Google something just to make sure before you unleash your stupidity on the world?

I’ve also seen some spectacular examples on LinkedIn. Which, if anything, is even worse. It’s a social site for business. So what you’re doing there is advertising your stupidity not to your pals, but to potential employers. There was a lady a couple of weeks back who was, in all seriousness, stating that a bus advert that was sexist, crass and as far from being creative as it’s possible to get, was a great advert. Her rationale was that no publicity is bad publicity.

I’d argue that, in her case, annoying the very people who are meant to be your audience is not a smart move. Sure you’ll get on the news for a day, but people will still think your company sucks. And it will be online forever.

So before you commit anything to the eternal online world, check you’re not going to look like a giant idiot before you hit ‘post’. Or don’t, if that’s how you choose to live.

I suppose it gives the rest of us something to laugh at.

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Everyone knows that it’s useful to have a stretch before starting exercise. But very few people think about doing it with their minds. The brain is thought by scientists to be like a muscle – the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.

And that’s why I’d suggest trying a little exercise before important meetings (actually before any meeting, but little steps first).

Read something unusual before you enter a meeting and start presenting your ideas, or trying to convince people of your viewpoint. Try On the Ning, Nang, Nong by Spike Milligan (for example).

On The Ning Nang Nong

On the Ning Nang Nong

Where the Cows go Bong!

and the monkeys all say BOO!

There’s a Nong Nang Ning 

Where the trees go Ping!

And the tea pots jibber jabber joo.

On the Nong Ning Nang 

All the mice go Clang 

And you just can’t catch ’em when they do!

So its Ning Nang Nong

Cows go Bong!

Nong Nang Ning

Trees go ping

Nong Ning Nang

The mice go Clang

What a noisy place to belong

is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!!

A lovely piece of illustration by Mr Milligan

A lovely piece of illustration by Mr Milligan

It makes your brain actually think before you say the words. Normally your brain looks at the shapes of the words you read, and their context compared to other words, and ‘guesses’ what the words say. If you read something that’s not ‘ordinary’ it forces your brain out of its comfort zone and makes you think.

There’s some amazing research that Cambridge University did that proves your brain reads shapes. So it doesn’t matter what order the letters of words are in, you can still read them. (This is also the reason that block capitals are harder to read than upper and lower case letters – see road signs for proof – no capitals there and they have to communicate really quickly.) Read the copy in the image below. It has all the letters (except the first and last ones) jumbled up. And you can still read it easily. The brain is an amazing thing.

Cambridge University research - your brain is amazing

Cambridge University research – your brain is amazing

So, to make sure your brain is thinking and not just ‘filling in the blanks’ it makes sense to read something that isn’t easily scanned.

And being in a position to think is the perfect place to have your brain for a meeting. I know some people will be thinking “I’m far too busy to do silly things like read Spike Milligan”. Fair enough.

However, I’d counter with “How important is the meeting you’re going to if your brain working well isn’t a prerequisite?”

Try reading something that your brain can’t scan easily. Chaucer, John Cooper-Clarke or Irvine Welsh. They all offer your brain a bit of a challenge. You can try anything that jolts you from the usual comfort zone in which we tend to live.

Just make sure you don’t pick up any language tips from Mr Welsh – not unless you’re on really friendly terms with your audience.