Sir Bob Jones

Commentary on issues of the day from the property tycoon, author and former politician

Bob Jones: Who gives a toss what online ranters think

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This column usually induces a sizeable outpouring of internet comment, sometimes abusive, frequently missing the point, and occasionally leading to further exchanges between, says Jones. Photo / Sarah Ivey
This column usually induces a sizeable outpouring of internet comment, sometimes abusive, frequently missing the point, and occasionally leading to further exchanges between, says Jones. Photo / Sarah Ivey

I'm not being curmudgeonly, for - like Rhett Butler - I don't really give a damn, but I freely confess to bafflement at much modern world conduct arising from technology.

I'm bewildered by the obsessional use of cellphones; the constant telephoning and message-sending. I'm flabbergasted by Facebook and the desire to tell everyone what you're doing, no matter how mundane, and even more astonishing, that anyone should want to read this stuff, as I'm advised they do.

"Do you send texts?" I asked one of our secretaries in a spirit of inquiry, and on receiving her affirmation, asked for an example. "Well, if I've arranged to meet a girlfriend for drinks after work, I'll text to say I'm on my way." This declaration resulted in a stunned generational impasse of mutual bewilderment, the division mark probably being everyone under and over 50.

But most puzzling of all is the apparent need by many citizens to comment publicly, albeit anonymously, on absolutely everything.

Much of it is gratuitously abusive, such as the reported vitriolic outpouring of male Twitter spite directed at Marion Bartoli's alleged lack of beauty after she won Wimbledon. Thrilled as I was by Andy Murray's success, he's certainly no Adonis, but no woman feels the need to say so; rather, the whole of Britain (and me) rejoiced at his triumph.

This column usually induces a sizeable outpouring of internet comment, sometimes abusive, frequently missing the point, and occasionally leading to exchanges between the various commentators.

What specially fascinates me are the regular "I never read Jones but ..." opening preambles when plainly they do, plus the paroxysm of rage sometimes induced over the most innocuous remark.

Imagine if I confined this column to a large photo of myself and the simple message, "The cat sat on the mat". On the evidence of past form here's a likely website reaction.

Struggling Worker, Henderson: "Yeah right, Mr Jones. Fine for the 1 per cent who can afford cats and mats but what about the rest of us?"

Doto, 54: "As always, more Jones sneering from on high, which is why I never read his column as every week it's the same garbage from start to finish."

Raupo, Morrinsville: "I also never read Mr Jones, but finally he's got something right. Our cat sits on a mat."

Shaun, Turangi Prison Farm: "It's an attack on Catholics - clear as day."

Anne, Whakatane: "Bob's wrong. Our cat only lies on a sofa."

JD, Wanganui: "Hang on, Anne. What colour's your cat?"

Anne, Whakatane: "It's ginger, JD."

JD, Wanganui: "Well there you go, Anne. It's obviously Irish and just being obstreperous. Normal cats sit on mats, as Bob said."

Struggling Worker, Henderson: "What none of you realise is that lots of us are battling to make ends meet and can't afford cats and mats. It's simply more of Jones' weekly arrogance, ridiculing the poor, which is why I never read his rubbish."

Margaret, Tauranga: "Lots of kittens are available free."

Struggling Worker, Henderson: "Yeah right, Margaret. But we're not all parasitically raking in rents from high-rise buildings and can afford to feed cats. And for that matter, who's giving away mats?"

Rose, Wanganui: "Your criticisms are unfair. Personally, I think Sir Robert is a national treasure, as our cat sits on a mat."

Walter, Mt Roskill: "Rose-tinted glasses, I'm afraid, Rose. How does Jones know all cats sit on mats? It's a typical Jones sweeping generalisation. Has he studied every cat in New Zealand? I don't think so."

Thucydides, Korea: "Sir Robert didn't say all cats sit on mats. He was referring to a cat - singular. Cats here in Korea sit on mats."

Struggling Worker, Henderson: "That may be so, Thucydides, but the Korean working man didn't have Rogernomics inflicted on him, otherwise we'd all have cats, and mats too, and not just Jones and his mate Key. It's typical Jones mocking the matless. He hates the poor."

Rangi, Te Awamutu: "He hates Maori too."

Frances, Pukekohe: "I reckon he hates cats."

Shaun, Turangi Prison Farm: "And Catholics."

Damian, Shortland Street: "And homosexuals."

Thinking Man, Manukau: "And Jews."

Annabel, Wellington: "And mats."

Fred, Napier: "He is a Jew."

Charles, Foxton: "No he's not. I know his sister. But he could be a homosexual."

Struggling Worker, Henderson: "Bring in capital gains tax then we'll all have cats and mats."

W.E., Titirangi: "We've got a rug. Does that count?"

Raupo, Matamata: "You're missing the critical point of the issue here, W.E. Do you have a cat?"

W.E., Titirangi: "Never thought of that, Raupo. We haven't got a cat but we've got a dog and it sits on the rug. Also, we've got a budgie."

Thinker, Hawera: "Rugs are different from mats, W.E. They're bigger and with a thicker texture. Bob's only talking about mats, and for that matter cats, so you're out of line."

Struggling Worker, Henderson: "Pay a living wage and we'd all have cats and mats plus dogs and rugs instead of just the Joneses of this world."

And on it goes, on and on. It's unbelievable.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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