‘The Sewer of Social Media’

‘The Sewer of Social Media’

Featured Image: Mike Atherton

I swore I wouldn’t buy into this debate. However I’m motivated to do so following an excellent article by Mike Atherton in the London Times and ‘The Australian’.

See: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/author/Mike%20Atherton

‘Smith’s tears jolt for every father who has a son’.

Mike has also not been backward in coming forward; or where his sympathies lie. He is on the front foot in an ‘Odious stink of hypocrisy’. I don’t always agree with Mike Atherton. As with many other high profile media moguls there can be tsunamis of self-righteous indignation and nationalistic tub-thumping at times. Gideon Haig is my personal choice as a truly objective unsullied commentator.

However Mike Atherton included in his narrative on Steve Smith the following seminal vignette on the state of play with our ‘sporting’ social media:

 “To see the sewer of social media rising in indignation, swaying this way and that, changing opinion on the wind of every unverified fact was to recognise something deeply unpleasant in human nature”.

It’s a very percipient piece; and I agree! I’m still a firm ‘rejectionist’ when it applies to the so-called pusillanimous communication cesspit so accurately identified by Mike Atherton. Both the protagonists and antagonists aren’t held accountable for their opinions or accusations. It’s all so cowardly, tasteless and feeble! I have my own descriptors of this sort of activity: ‘egregious otiose ordure’ and the ‘captious caviling of the carping curs’.

It’s also a reflection of our society. In a state of high dudgeon I eventually resigned my beloved Gold Membership of the Sydney Cricket Ground in 2015. I append my letter of resignation at the end of this submission. I have to say I was appalled by the attitude and behaviour of some in the members section of the SCG. They were identifiable as typical arriviste nouveaux parvenus of a certain genre, gender and generation. Maybe I’m just a ‘sanctimonious old flatulent’; as claimed by at least one of them? The actual verbatim accusation was much less polite! I identify it as declining standards in our society. Social ‘cricketing’ etiquette is a dead duck; excuse the unintended pun. No-one waits for the end of the over anymore as a courtesy while leaving a seat. Beer ‘swilling-and-spilling’ has become the ‘norm’.

If the purported egregious vile filth perpetrating as sanitised ‘sledging’ on the field is at least half true then I won’t be missing anything (see below)? For example I will not be supporting a worthy charity on the 3rd. day of the annual SCG Test as I have done in the past. The cause is noble; but the proponent is not!

Writing about yet another Wallaby defeat in ‘The Australian’ Monday 17th September 2017) Wayne Smith writes: “It’s the menacing anonymity of social media. Everyone can express an opinion but rarely is anyone held accountable for it”. Smith was writing about the egregious behaviour of a disgruntled Wallaby fan-post match following the loss to the Argentinian Pumas.

My very good friend trainer Pat Farrell from Muswellbrook has a much more basic and prosaic but equally profound philosophical purview: “Opinions are like a…..s; everyone’s got one”!

“The Tyranny of (Righteous) Opinion”

Professor Emeritus of Sociology at La Trobe University John Carroll wrote a very insightful article under the heading above in ‘The Australian’, Inquirer, Saturday 18 January 2020:

‘Proclaiming shallow virtue from the social media pulpit is the new religion’

“The Battle of the Will” SMH ‘Books’, Saturday 4th February 2023: Will Self; ‘Why Read’:

“People marching up and down, on social media pushing their products, banging their little drum and trying to sell shit is not a very edifying spectacle” he says.

The Sewer of Social Media II

“Perhaps the greatest threat to civilization” 

Recent ‘convergence of atrocities’ (Peter Hartcher, ‘Nation must look in the mirror’ SMH 20/04/24) has homed in on the social media companies who provide the platforms for ‘ratbags and their ilk’ to coordinate their criminally egregious agendas. The stabbings at Bondi Junction and the knifing at Wakeley shortly thereafter were disastrous sequelae to horrendous acts of violence. While apportioning of blame is a burning hot topic, a cautionary tale is to take a step back and contemplate. “The social media companies reflect the world in which we live” (SMH correspondent 22/04/24).

Word Puzzles!


A Little Light Learning!

Was this the forerunner of the filthy, foul-mouthed, vindictive vituperative so prevalent; and dispensed widely on so many social media platforms today?  How did the Chaucer-age Englishman, if he was literate, convey his innermost thoughts and opinions?

Many professional colleagues have commented on my barely comprehensible use of words and the English language in general! My secondary school teacher vehemently expressed the same critical opinion 55 years prior with profound deleterious effect on my grades! I had great difficulty in making it ‘over the line’ for the absolutely necessary pre-requisite pass in the subject to attain University entrance! This will surprise no one! Perhaps I spent too much time on the playing fields and too little in the library?

I was once presented with a small copy of a book by Guy Noble ‘Word of the Day’. This is an etymological compilation of the wonderful words and what they mean as heard on ABC Classic FM radio in Sydney. Guy Noble has been the host of ‘Breakfast’ on ABC Classic FM since 1999. He is also a conductor, pianist, incurable word buff and father of two small children.

Purely to be obtuse (I’m good at it!)I composed the following from words (with definitions) appearing in ‘Word of the Day’. I believe it makes a sentence although my ‘Windows 98 Spell Check’ refutes the spelling and has great difficulty with most of the words!


“The pixilated slubberdegullion uxorious poodlefaker was a blutterbunged flibbertigibbet last night, cachinating to a lickspittle before haughmagandy, susurration and persiflage with a prurient soubrette slooming it off before dysania and becoming caliginous gutfoundered with tintinnabulation on a muckle turdiform fuscous goatsucker followed by borborygmus and afflatus!”


Perhaps I should explain? Some of them are not what you might think! I have on occasion been slightly ‘blutterbunged’, mildly ‘pixilated’ and the merest trifle ‘puggled’ myself! I’m feeling a trite tittup today as I spuddle about my umbonate! It’s all crapulous logorrhoea to me!


Pixilated = Bewildered, crazy, drunk: as amusingly eccentric as a titillated pixie!

Slubberdegullion = A worthless, slovenly fellow

Uxorious = Excessively fond of one’s wife

Poodlefaker = A youth too much given to tea parties and ladies’ society generally

Blutterbunged = Confounded; overcome by surprise (from Lincolnshire)

Flibbertigibbet = Flighty, gossiping person

Cachinating = To laugh loudly or immoderately

Lickspittle = A toady

Haughmagandy = Adulterous sexual intercourse

Susurration = Whispering or rustling

Persiflage = Light raillery, banter

Prurient = Given to or arising from indulgence in lewd ideas

Soubrette = In 18th century French theatre, a clever but impertinent servant girl

Slooming = Sleeping heavily and soundly

Dysania = Having a hard time waking in the morning

Caliginous = Misty, dim, dark

Gutfoundered = Exceedingly hungry

Tintinnabulation = Ringing, tinkling

Muckle = A large amount

Turdiform = Having the form of a thrush

Fuscous = Sombre; dark coloured

Goatsucker = Common name for nocturnal birds such as frogmouth and nightjar

Borborygmus = A rumbling of the guts

Afflatus = A sudden rush of divine inspiration

Tittup = To move or behave in a restless manner; caper, prance, frisk (impatient horse)

Spuddle = To go about a trifling business as though it were a matter of great importance

Umbonate = Having a rounded boss or protuberance in the centre

Logorrhoea = Excessive flow of words

Crapulous = Suffering the effects of intemperance

My spouse was indubitably not amused when I described her as a “trite tittup” today!

W. P. Howey

Ms Leonie Gibbons

Manager – Member and Customer Services

Sydney Cricket & Sports Ground Trust


Dear Ms Gibbons

It is with extreme reluctance and great regret that I seek to relinquish my Membership of the SCG. I was an original Foundation Gold Member: Gold Membership No. 400082; Certificate dated 30/09/1986 and signed by Pat Hills MP, Chairman of Trustees. I fondly retain my Certificate.

I live in the country and have attained the age of 73. Having been myopic for over 60 years I was recently diagnosed with Macular Degeneration and Cataracts in both eyes. I am anticipating a series of eye operations in 2016. The point is I am unable to see the (red) ball when at the SCG. Also I am both unwilling and unable to take part in the ‘Paddington Gift’ at the annual Test Match in order to secure the ‘best seats in the house’. The residue after c. 8:00am are just that: residual. I have tried booked seats and did not really enjoy the space. This year (2015) and the year before (2014) I was the single aged  ‘victim’ in some unseemly and unworthy acrimonious disputation about the ‘reserved’ stickers on the best available single seat(s). This year (2015) I was accosted by no less than a cabal of five (5) much younger ‘members’ after having been escorted to a vacant seat by a young and charming female SCG steward earlier that morning. I placed my reserved sticker on the seat and left to enjoy breakfast in the Noble Stand. This seat was in the upstairs section of the Ladies Stand at the end of the front row in a window section. The ‘smart set’ outnumbered me by 5 to 1 with an especially noxious individual claiming he had taken a photograph with his smartphone.  The young lady steward had by then been replaced by another steward leaving me with no plausible witness. I decided to take no action other than to let the obnoxious quintet know my true feelings in no uncertain but articulate manner. I was effectively ‘bullied’ out of it.

I accept the recent renovations at the SCG as being multi-functional and appropriate for the 21st Century. However I do not particularly like them. Could this be my Luddite age? Being a country-based member I am unable to access the extensive and comprehensive privileges and opportunities available to city based members. My decision is therefore not about affordability but is very much about value. The cost of both travel and accommodation in Sydney is a significant deterrent to us ‘bushies’. In my case this is ‘doable’ but equally questionable.

Please be apprised I have greatly enjoyed and appreciated my 29 continuous years of membership of the SCG. It has been an enormous privilege. The SCG is a very special place (and space) in the pantheon of world sport. I still have goose-bumps and a tingling feeling with pilo-erection of the hairs on the back of my neck whenever I step into the precinct. As a cricket tragic it is my ultimate vicarious playground.

Thank you.

I wish you well and every success as events unfold.

I am

Yours sincerely


W. P. Howey