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Monday, May 6, 2013

Cheers for Mark Zuckerberg

One thing that Mark Zuckerberg learned from his Facebook experience is impression management. We all engage in it, more or less, and ever more if we have a Facebook account. You know what I am talking about: uploading the most flattering pictures, boasting about the holiday we had or listing languages in the profile which in reality we barely know. Ervin Goffman, a sociologist said that we constantly engage in impression management, especially if we have a public present in front of us. In this case, we are talking about Facebook public, only Mark is more brilliant than the rest of us, since he behaves like a chameleon depending on who is in front: the users, investors or advertisers. For instance, just before Facebook went public Mark made the following statements: ‘Our mission is to make the world more open and connected’, and ‘Applications aren’t the centre of the world…people are.’ So, either he forgot what he was saying or his impression management experience taught him that by the time his first quarter results in 2013 appear, everyone will forget about his statements. Because it appears that revenues from advertising make 85% of total revenues, and that earnings are boosted by new targeting tools for advertising, including applications. Ha-ha-ha, very funny, Mark. But it doesn’t end up here. Trust me, one can write a book about impression management and Mark. Due to a lack of time, I will restrict myself to a couple of other interesting observations about Zuckerberg and impression management. For instance, the same sociologist (Ervin Goffman) said that we either have signals that we give or give off. Giving signals is something we do when we want to create a certain impression, while signals that we give off is when we simply go on with our business, regardless of what others think. Now, Mark proclaimed that from now on he will take a 1$ dollar salary per year. This is, obviously, a signal he gave: ‘I care about the people who work for me, and don’t give a damn about money…it’s all about people after all.’ This is in line with his interview for Times when asked about making money, he answered that Facebook wasn’t about making money and that he, Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t care about money. The signal he gave off though was when he sold some of his shares in Facebook just before it went public and made $ 2,3 billion. His net worth is 14 billion dollars. But no, he, obviously, doesn’t care about money, he cares about people. As to people, I am pretty sure that most users missed the fact that everything you do online while your Facebook is open, is immediately recorded by Facebook…in order to make advertisement more appealing to you. Sounds little bit like Beacon to which most users protested when it was implemented, but seem to have forgotten since then. I mean, who cares, right? Facebook is a wonderful tool and if they need to make some money to make it happen, why not? But in case, you do want to protest, you can’t really. Facebook banned its voting mechanism, so that you, the users, leave all the hurdles to Facebook itself and just enjoy the experience. It's all about people after all, isn't?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The amount of BB creams is killing me

Wait…aren’t BB creams so much ‘passé’ now? The new craze is supposed to be a CC cream, but after thinking today that the next invention will probably be a DD cream, to my greatest disappointment I read today that actually DD creams are ready to hit the market. And I thought that I was smart enough to assume that I would be the first to spot the new trend. I don’t know though whether as me, you find the amount and promises of these new products highly unnerving. Just today while I checked on Google different entries related to these miracle products I started to have a slight headache. I assumed, in my naivety, that since it’s impossible to check all new arrivals on the market (by just visiting John Lewis and Boots last week I counted more than 20 different BB creams and at least 5 CC creams, and that with a toddler next to me, and so I probably missed most of them in any case), I would be better off to read the summary of ten best. But here, surprise, surprise, I read four different blogs and magazines’ entries and ALL of them give different best products. I don’t understand…are they paid to confuse us even more? Still, I am quite curious about the phenomenon. I fell in love with the BB cream when I tried this product on my face after years of struggling to apply foundation and always finding that it slightly distorted my face. Not a BB cream. I tried the BB nude of l’Oreal in fair shade and everyone was asking me since then about the secret of my beauty regime. Disillusioned that I discovered a secret holy grail I would even hide while visiting a beauty counter in Boots, using some tactics so that one woman in particular wouldn’t follow me to my purchase. Since she was following me for a couple of hours I correctly assumed that she wanted to know what I was using on my face. But lured by a new upcoming promise I tried the CC cream. Also by L’Oreal. I did feel that something was wrong with my face after applying it but it was my boyfriend who pointed out to my look, by asking what was wrong with my skin. All over. But instead of returning to the BB cream and knowing that it was the best on the market and at a reasonable price, I launched myself into finding the very best. Surely, since now we have also the CC creams, the market and beauty industry advanced so, that my old product would rather harm me than make me look good, I thought? Armed with ten different products and spending (I am not disclosing the amount as I do feel guilty after the UK economy nearly avoided triple recession)a ridiculous sum of money, I tried them all at home and came back the next day to the shop to buy the L’Oreal one, the one I was using happily before. But it did make me think as to how addicted I have become to the commodity market. I do want to look good, but still, I should probably become more aware about the spectacle that BB creams (and all other beauty products) have become. As Debord once said: “The proliferation of faddish gadgets reflects the fact that as the mass of commodities becomes increasingly absurd, absurdity itself becomes a commodity.”

Sunday, April 28, 2013

American Idol makes me cry

Yes, really. For a number of reasons. First, I cry every time I watch this programme (that, together with X-Factor) because I remember the years when I was without any television and every time I watch it, I regret the decision to have started watching the TV again. True, American Idol and X-Factor are the only programmes that we watch with my boyfriend, but even these rare evenings are better spent with a book, something which won’t tell me what to think and how to feel. Second, yesterday I was indeed crying when we watched the pre-recoded evening of the song contest. One of the themes they used this year to make audience tearful was visiting the children’s’ hospital. And no, I didn’t cry because of seeing the sick children (for this, it is sufficient to check my Facebook newsfeed), I cried because of the hypocrisy of the production team. One contestant was especially spectacular in the making by proclaiming that when she entered the hospital, ‘she felt at home’. Okay, she is probably still too young…to understand that sick children are used for commercial purposes, nothing else and nothing more. The country made its choice when, instead of focussing on the fact that Clinton abolished welfare as a federal issue, it was paying all its attention to his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Much more entertaining, of course. But using all kinds of causes for publicity is, obviously, not just a prerogative of American Idol. Take the UK as an example, or any other country where TV contests inundate all possible and impossible viewing time. I don’t watch the Voice anymore, but I read the review of it by Charlie Brooker for this year. He says that one can watch the Voice while waiting to die. Well, I would go further and say that one can die while watching the Voice. That’s what happened to me last year. I died from boredom. But what was interesting in his article is the comment on how we praise disproportionally something about which we don’t really care in real lives, thanks to the TV. There was a contestant who apparently sung well and is working with special needs children in his off TV life. And so the judge,, for that matter, told him that he represented all people who worked with children and cared about them. Ha-ha-ha. Or take the X-Factor several years ago and their song’ The Heroes’, reworked to represent soldiers dying during wars. You know what, if you really care about soldiers, don’t send them to your stupid wars. And don’t start wars so that the rest of the population embraces the reality TV capitalism and start watching the X-Factor….or American Idol.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Gwyneth Paltrow’s phenomenal dietary insight

Honestly, I don’t want to talk badly about people. I don’t want to find myself in the same situation as Charlie Brooker who half-way through one of his books starts apologising to all those stars about which he was dismissive in the past. Thanks man, it’s exactly THIS kind of criticism that we need. You know, watching Big Brother is not good for your health, but if it makes you feel better… But I do like Gwyneth Paltrow, as an actress so to speak. I feel actually sad by the fact that I recently discovered her other famous side, that being an A-guru in matters of health, diet and how to look good. I would probably stay in oblivion (that with me not following any diets but living by the principle that if you want to slim down you simply need to eat less) if not for the frantic promotion related to Gwyneth’s latest book, apparently a masterpiece in the cookery world, or rather a guide as to how to live a miserable and food-deprived life. I don’t understand the title, to start with. It says ‘It’s all good’ on the cover. Honestly? Just reading the description makes me think that it is more like ‘A guide to people with food-allergies’, as confirmed by one comment among amazon reviews about the book…coming from a person with multiple food-allergies. The description says it bluntly that this book is based on a diet which excludes coffee, alcohol, dairy, eggs, sugar, shellfish, deep-water fish, wheat, meat, or any processed-food. After reading this I want to know the name of Gwyneth’s doctor who advised her to follow this horrendous bullshit after she came to him suffering from anaemia and other stuff, which all sound to me like a consequence of Gwyneth’s obsession with diets and fitness regime. Instead the doctor sends her right to hell. You know, even before coming to recipes I just want to go somewhere and shoot myself. But of course, even going down the hell is potentially a huge profit, as the ninth place on amazon’s bestseller’s list of Gwyneth’s masterpiece clearly demonstrates. I vow to lead a miserable and food-deprived life.