Smart phones promote skin tones, but trolling won’t impress me

This tweet appeared yesterday.

I got to see it as John Ralfe was responding to a post from me , a post from Con Keating who is the gent in the red jumper.

Con Keating does not need my protection, he is more than a match for John and sensibly ignores twitter. What needs protecting is common decency. This photo was taken without the permission of Con Keating and catches him in a pose that is clearly intended to contrast with John’s svelte and lithe posture. There is no caption because the picture is intended to say it all.

Smart phones promote skin tones…

Not only is this overweening vanity on John Ralfe’s behalf, but it is an attempt at the kind of bullying that causes so much distress to youngsters for whom postings on Facebook , Instagram, Tic-Toc and Snap define their self-worth.

This is not the only photo of this type in John’s gallery. He trots out a photo of me at a podium with a large belly. Again, the photo was taken without my permission and appears on tweets from John Ralfe without comment. I can only assume that John considers his immaculate grooming and his impressive BMI support his arguments and ridicule those of those who don’t agree with him.

But trolling won’t impress me..

Obesity is no laughing matter, nor the impact of age. Those who point fingers at people’s physical weaknesses are digital bullies and use these techniques with no thought to the consequences not just to those they are ridiculing but to anyone who is old or fat or simply caught at the wrong angle by a camera they had no idea was capturing images of them – and that means just about all of us.

The technique of juxtaposition employed in the tweet does not explain that Con Keating is well into his eighth decade, suffers from some hideously painful medical conditions and has recently recovered from a heart attack. John Ralfe is considerably younger and is clearly in much better health, this physical image confuses physical and mental health, Con Keating’s mental health is as strong as any person I  know.

This kind of post is indecent and – as it comes from someone who regularly speaks for a part of the pensions industry – deserves to be called out. It is sloppy, cruel and not worthy of the poster.

We all have rights – as human beings – a right to decency.

What John Ralfe is indulging himself in – is called trolling. Trolling is defined as creating discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people by posting inflammatory or off-topic messages in an online community. Basically, a social media troll is someone who purposely posts something controversial in order to get a rise out of other users.

I use the word “indulge” with purpose. Rather than engaging Con Keating in a conversation, he takes an easier route – resorting to a cheap shot in a cheap post. So long as this practice goes unchallenged, we can all feel threatened by it. It creates a tyranny which destroys rather than promotes debate.

As we approach Christmas, let’s be aware of the consequences of our actions and let’s be kind. John Ralfe can and should be kind to those whose views are different to his and we should be kind to John Ralfe. So to redress the balance, let’s see John and Con together, in that spirit (both photos courtesy of Corporate Adviser).


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
This entry was posted in pensions. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Smart phones promote skin tones, but trolling won’t impress me

  1. ConKeating says:

    Long ago, I was told by my housemaster at school that I should never seek employment in any role involving me a negotiator, as my facial expressions were near perfect tell-tales for my reaction to things being said. In the case of this photograph, this was my reaction to the sour lemons being offered by the recrudescent Ralfe as substitutes for reasoned argument. Unlike Donald Trump, I was biting my tongue, waiting my turn to rebut the follies he was promoting, but my face told everything. Every time I see it, I am reminded how completely unpalatable (and unfounded) I found his ‘remedies’ for the ills of DB occupational pensions to be.
    Keep it up, John – but add some argument or discussion.

  2. Confirmation bias, in my experience, tends to mean that a room (or Zoom, these days) of pension trustees, largely or wholly made up of elderly white males of various shapes, are less impressed by someone appearing in front of them like svelte Mr Ralfe.

    Mr Keating may take comfort that Columbia Business School research suggests that more feminine, baby-like and happy faces are perceived to be more trustworthy.

    Another study, at University of Toronto, found that observers decide in as little as five seconds whether a person is charismatic. People who were attractive, white, and not wearing glasses, and who displayed more eye contact and gave stronger arguments (emphasis added) were rated as more charismatic.

    We also know about politicians turning to voice coaches and, sure enough, research results have shown that participants were more likely to say they’d vote for females with lower-pitched voices, because such females were seen as more competent and trustworthy.

    Participants also preferred to vote for men with lower-pitched voices, though anecdotally it wasn’t because they seemed more trustworthy.

Leave a Reply