Just point to the fish, Trish - a tech-era parting

Last updated 12:00 05/01/2013

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OPINION: Shortly after divorcing his first wife, Paul Simon came up with a song which can still be regarded as an anthem for modern times: Fifty Ways to Leave your Lover.

"Just slip out the back, Jack; make a new plan, Stan; you don't need to be coy, Roy; Just listen to me. Hop on the bus, Gus; You don't need to discuss much; Just drop off the key, Lee, And get yourself free" . . . These were among his light-hearted suggestions on a common situation that is generally much more angst-ridden than the singer makes out.

This week, a 51st way has been revealed, and through no less a modern social phenomenon than online auction site Trade Me. Waikato lass Angela Potter's ex-boyfriend once loved her so much that he revealed to her the GPS locations of his favourite fishing spots, telling her to guard them with her life.

But then, fate's fickle finger beckoned him across the ditch to Australia and he fled the relationship, and this country, at short notice. Worse, he went packing with Ms Potter's suitcase - an item which she says has sentimental value, and which he failed to return to her.

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and so the Waikato teacher got one back on her former fisherman friend, offering to reveal his secret fishing locations to the highest bidder. She expected up to 100 views, but got more than that, netting a cool $3000 for her trouble - and even scoring a new fisherman boyfriend by auction's end.

Perhaps the circumstances of the ex's departure were such that reconciliation was never going to happen . . . but, clearly, selling his secrets in such a manner must have sealed the deal.

Rhymin' Simon wrote the song in 1975. Had social media been prevalent 40 years ago he could have had a lot of fun, and easily doubled the number of ways in the title: "Just end it by text, Rex; Do it by email, Dale; No need for a fuss, Russ; Hit send and you're free".

The way we communicate has undergone a shake-up in its own way as transformational as the other great revolutions that have shaped and shaken us throughout history. There are now more than 1 billion smartphone users in the world, even though the technology has been around for only five years. That number is predicted to double by the end of 2015.

The small-but-powerful devices offer huge potential to those involved in the communication and software development fields. But it is their influence on individual and societal behaviour that is the most remarkable feature of the ubiquitous devices. They allow instant communication, any time, anywhere. Two-thirds of their users take them to bed, in case an important text arrives.

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They allow us to record history as it unfolds around us, and share whatever we snap with the world in an instant. They can help us become instant - if temporary - experts on any subject, providing we are astute enough to choose credible sites, or buy goods from anywhere in the world as we wander along the main street. It is as if we exist in parallel worlds - real, and cyber - and the two have become increasingly enmeshed. Indeed, the crossover territory is vast, as the increasingly common tendency to use social media to bully, harass or humiliate others illustrates.

As with other tools, technology can be used for good or not so good. Other than the very keenest fisherman among us, most people will consider the way Ms Potter took her revenge to be creative, funny and appropriate - especially when compared with some cyber attacks over the years. So, love rats beware: there are ever increasing ways for jilted lovers to fry your fish.

- The Nelson Mail

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