AT ONE TIME, I changed my Facebook name to NO ONE ON EARTH, so that every time I pressed the “Like” button, my friends got a notification saying “NO ONE ON EARTH likes your post”.

Mwah ha ha ha. Yes, I am a total wacko and it was a horrible message to send. But it made everyone laugh.

Often a statement and the medium in which it is sent deliver opposite messages. There have been a spate of these in the news recently.

For example, I was intrigued to read that a farmer in the US drove his tractor around a field to make a huge love heart for his beloved wife.

But he made it entirely out of cattle manure!

The words said “I love you” but the medium said “this is a load of bull poop”.

No word in news reports about which interpretation the missus took.

Let’s see if he’s still married in a couple of months.


When I was a student, I always felt that the saying “The early bird gets the worm” was actually a mixed message.

Surely one could interpret it as “Early worms get eaten alive”? I made sure I slept late.


A heavily armed rebel leader in Syria was recently filmed given instructions to his troops from a Hello Kitty notebook.

Now I don’t want to be overly critical, but why did he choose Hello Kitty?

There are so many brands which send a more suitable message for armed insurrectionists.

Pokemon, for example, at least has a fighting theme.

If he has a thing for cats, a friend of mine recently published a very successful series of books called Warrior Cats.

Great battlefield reading for cat-loving rebel leaders.


A friend sent me an example from the US.

A professor at Johns Hopkins University announced that he was going to give 100 points and an A grade to the top scorer in the class, and proportionately less to each other student in order of achievement.

This seemed perfectly reasonable—until one student worked out that if every student got the same mark, they’d ALL get A grades.

The only way to guarantee this was to persuade the entire class to skip the finals.

It actually worked.

All got zero points and grade As: the ultimate mixed message. Instead of applauding their creativity and solidarity, the professor announced that he was not amused and would be changing the system next semester. What a misery.


Talking of which, a particularly annoying example of a mixed message is Misery, the song which has been a huge hit for the pop group Maroon 5.

The words go like this: “I am in misery, and there ain't nobody who can comfort me.”

The tune is ultra-happy and bouncy and they look so gleeful when they jump around singing it.

Adam! Stop smiling! It makes no sense!


Back to Asia for a final example: a woman in Guangdong, China recently decided to generate good karma by releasing trapped animals into the wild.

So she bought a sack of poisonous snakes, such as cobras, and let them loose.

Residents of the area received a mixed message. What a lovely heart she has! What a stupid head she has!


When I die, I want a mixed message carved into my grave stone: “Look, nothing is written in stone.”