Tag Archives: Culture

What’s ‘Likes’ Got to Do, Got to Do with It?

You just moved into a new neighborhood, and really want to get to know your neighbors. Suddenly, you get a brilliant idea! Sprinting downstairs, to the entrance of your building, you tack a sign on the community bulletin board, “Party in 3D, Saturday at 8pm”.

Come Saturday, people start pouring in at 8pm– by 10pm, 200 people are jam-packed into your sardine box of an abode, overflowing out the balcony. They’re talking, drinking, dancing– really, really enjoying themselves. It couldn’t be going any better. As you wind through the crowd, making sure everyone’s cup runneth over, random guests cheer you on,

“Great party!”

“Really happening!”

“Wicked music!”

Come Sunday, your apartment looks like Katrina ran into King Kong throwing a hissy fit. But, hey, you don’t care, cause you just threw the party of the century. Mission accomplished…

YOUR NEIGHBORS KNOW YOU… and LIKE YOU.

Monday morning, as you sing to yourself in the most un-Mercury voice possible, “We Are the Champions”, you set off to work. As the elevator doors slide open, you meet a few of the party goers, who begin raving about your shindig.

“That was epic, Mike!”

“It was totally insane, John!”

“DUUUUUDE, it was fierce!”

By now, you should be stoked– and you would be, if…

Your name was Mike or John, or it wasn’t so obvious that ‘DUUUUUDE’ was an eponym for ‘I don’t know your name’.

See, the problem is, though it was a kick ass party, and everyone who was anyone was there…

No one knows you. They ‘liked’ your party, but who doesn’t like a party?

If you really wanted them to know you, remember you and actually interact with you again, you’d probably have fared better throwing a small dinner party for a few people in 3C and 3E. The week after, you’d invite Mrs. O’Mally and the Browns, whom you met at the mail boxes s a few days ago, over for tea.

Replace yourself with a brand, and the party guest with social media followers. Social media is more social than it is media– you can have 1,000,000 people love your page, but that doesn’t mean those 1,000,000 people really know you or care about you.

News flash: People are humans, and humans form relationships through one-on-one interactions. Those interactions are predominantly based on you getting to know them too– ie, seeking their presence in your life necessitates you giving a damn about theirs.

Brands today deal with social media as if it was a billboard space. They think its enough to boost a post, and get more ‘likes’. But in the end, those ‘likes’ are a faceless number of clicks. And as much as ‘numbers’ are the mantra of marketeers, quantity is the LAST thing social media is about.

Because social media’s greatest advantage, is it allows brands to get up close and personal. It takes brands from talking TO a consumer, to conversing WITH a person– having 100 people you know and speak with is infinitely more valuable than having a whole sea of followers who, you aren’t even sure, are really people with whom you want to engage.

The biggest culprit of this massive catastrophe, ironically, is the inventor of social media; to be social, a brand MUST be on Facebook, but…

The way Facebook taught brands to be social, has them acting more like immature frat brothers, than grown-up adult holding a mature conversation. Which, shouldn’t be a shocking surprise, given its founder just graduated a few years ago, and, like his other 20-something Silicon Valley compadres, deals with social and the business of it, as such.

But, for you marketeers out there who still love your numbers, let’s talk fact: on average, less than 1% of your followers are ‘talking about’ you. Worse, if you scroll through people who ‘like’ posts you’ve boosted, you’ll find more than a couple of Juanitas from Guatamala and Marias from Mexico– which would be so bloody brilliant if you weren’t a hunting store selling fishing lines in Cardiff.

The problem is compounded by brands rambling on with posts that offer no significant value to social media followers– in the pre-digital era of media, we called that ‘filling dead air’. Brands think by keeping up these posts, they are being socially ‘active’ and ‘engaging’ their followers.

But engagement is a two-way activity… and it’s the brand’s job to listen more than speak. The incentive to keep your followers in that engagement is recognizing and sharing the content and insights they provide you.

Because a successfully social brand doesn’t have an audience of millions; it has a front row seat in the audience of 100 people— and it is listens to each one of those 100 everytime they speak. Further, a brand that really capitalizes on social media uses its own pages to post content from each of those one hundred.

The payoff being quite self-evident: if a brand recognizes each of those 100, and they each have at least 500 friends in their social networks, that means genuine brand exposure to and engagement with 50,000 others…think about it, when a brand shares a follower’s content on its own page, that follower will share his or her recognized content with their own networks.

To cut a long and very twisted story short… having the most ‘likes’ might make brands feel secure about their social status in the digital world. But that insecurity should have probably waned their in sophomore year at the University of Grow Up. Punning the words of that ever-so-famous cereal rabbit, “Eh, ‘likes’ are for kids.”

Bravo’s Latest: The Real Housewives of Saudi Arabia

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As the banks in Cyprus enforce the Eurozone’s insistence that Cypriots contribute to the recapitalization of the country, as the US reaches a point of critical mass in its quest to secure global hegemony, Bravo brings true reality to the world with its newest Housewives franchise, the Real Housewives of Saudi Arabia.

The ensemble this time around, though, a much easier one to bring together. Having been casted out of one household, Yasmine, Dalia, Fatima, Amira, and Bahiga are the wives of Mohamed bin Mohamed bin Mohamed bin Mohamed bin Abdul Mohamed, more affectionately known as ‘Mojo’.

Though the initial assumption would be an atmosphere of competitive female cattiness, these women get along just fine, viewing the sharing of a husband as an advantage.

‘As long as his wallet is open 24/7, I love the fact that my legs are only once a week,’ Amira, Mojo’s first wife, jokes. ‘Western women are so hypocritical. They spend 99% of their time trying to avoid having sex with their husband, but they think monogamy is the best thing since slice falafel. Puh-leez.’

‘Totally agree– most of them are willing to be a mistress, but think being a second or third or seventh wife is uncivil. He-ll-o, I might have to hide under a veil, but I don’t have to hide who’s under it with me!’ Yasmine, Mojo’s second wife says.

The women spend their day taking care of their children, which between the wives is a staggering 20. ‘You know,  ‘My Mommies Love Me’ t-shirts are very popular here in Saudi. Lesbians, multiple wives.. akh, tomatoe, tomato…’ thinks Dalia, who is Mojo’s third and fourth wife, having been born with conjoint bodies.

‘Believe it or not, it makes life a lot more open and honest. It let’s you mean what you say and say what you mean. Just like when my children say, ‘my brotha from another motha’… they aren’t just being facetious!’ exclaims Amira.

‘Feminists complain that this female discrimination, but let me tell you, this works for women not against them. In reality, I suffer the most,’ says Mojo. ‘You know what it is like to have to remember THREE anniversaries AND FOUR birthdays?’

Though Dalia is conjoint, Mojo married her Siamese body a week after his nuptials to Dalia due to the waxing salon’s inability to schedule it in before the wedding.

Bahiga, the one the other wives consider the ‘pretty one’ doesn’t get an preferential treatment despite her wicked bod. ‘When you are one of many wives, pretty isn’t part of the equation– at the end of the day, you’re expected to deliver the same as the others. This is why an allegiance with the other wives is crucial. If you all agree to lower the standards, then you all have to deliver less. If I won’t go down on Mojo, we all won’t go down on Mojo. Without them, I’d be powerless.’

‘Amen to that, sista!’ Amira retorts loudly.

Stay tuned for the season premier, rumored to start in April 2013. If these girls can walk it like they talk it, we can only imagine how the story will unveil…

Top 10 Responses by Stars Asked to Become the Face of Arab Celebrity Activism

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Darfur has George Clooney; Tibet, Richard Gere. With the people’s call for democracy, which celebrity could best serve as the Arabs’ star ambassador?

10. Paris Hilton, “Um, ya- like, anything, like, to help the Mausoleums.”

9. Victoria Beckham, “Do saline implants evaporate in extreme desert heat?”

8. Brad Pitt, “And adopt an Arab?”

7. Tiger Woods, “Can you sleep with ALL four wives at the same time?”

6. Justin Bieber, “Uh, underage boy in the Gulf? Let me get back to you.”

5. Tom Cruise, “If I get to play myself in the movie version & the sequel.”

4. Jessica Simpson, “I’d love to! I’ve never been to Mexico!”

3. Sarah Jessica Parker, “Sorry, busy writing ‘Sex & the City III: It’s Getting Almost as  Old as Us’.”

2. The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, “Hmmm…depends on how my name translates in Arabic.”

1. Lady Gaga, “Why not? It’s not like my meat dress is made of pork.”

 

Deja Vu… Sarah Palin: I Can See Egypt from Alaska!

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As the crisis in Egypt comes undone at the seams, with people refusing to step down and the Morsi regime slowly losing ground, on March 28 10, 2013, Barak Obama summons all of the greatest minds in US media, finance and politics, of past and present, in hopes that such a non-partisan/private sector committee can solve the issue once and for all, in the very familiar and distinct Deja Vu fashion of US Foreign Politics:

Obama: Okay, before we start, let’s have a breakfast prayer, asking God to help us come to a solid solution.

Dick Cheney: SHOOT ’em!

G W Bush: Cheney, now, relax and hold on to your pace maker. First of all, we gotta figure out why all those people are protesting in Indiana.

Condoleezza: Sir, nothing’s happening in Indiana.

G W Bush: Conde, I think that Gheri Curl cream’s straightened your hair, and tangled up your head. There’s some BIG ASS protesters in some square down there in Cairo.

Conde: Cairo, EGYPT… not Cairo, Indiana, Sir.

G W Bush: Damn. Is that right? Then why all them people in Indiana pissed off?

Conde: Sir, that’s because we screwed them over economically. Indiana, along with the whole country’s pretty miffed about it.

G W Bush: (Giggling) Oh ya. Greenspan, man. Did you fuck up on that one.

Greenspan: Well, we could always set off the Weapons of Mass Destruction we found in Iraq and annihilate the Morsi regime once and for all. Wait- we can’t use them CAUSE THEY DON’T EXIST.

G W Bush: (Giggling) Oh ya. Man, did I fuck up that one.

Sarah Palin: I can see Egypt from Alaska, and everything looks just hunky dory there.

Colin Powell: No, you can see Russia from Alaska. Egypt is in North Africa.

Palin: Uh, HE-LLO. I can see Egypt from Alaska. On SATELLITE TV. DUH!

Katy Courek: Sarah, then how could you not see the mass protests all over CNN, BBC and FOX News?! What the hell do you watch?

Palin: Well, I watch ALL stations, you know… YouTube… and uh, ALL the… other ones.

Cheney: Shoot ‘em!

Powell: Listen, Cheney- take a beta blocker and chill the fuck out. This isn’t a weekend quail hunt.

Dan Quayle: (Jumps up and screams)

Bush Senior: (Taking Dan Quayle on his lap and stroking his hair) There, there, READ MY LIPS—you just woke up from having a bad dream.

G W Bush: Pussy.

Hillary: GOD DAMN IT. Can you people focus. I’m menopausal, having hot flashes and besides laying the laws, my husband lays every other woman in America but me! I don’t have time for this crap.

Biden: (Looking at Obama) HA! I win! Pay up Barak! Told ya Hillary was a woman!

Obama: (paying Biden) Gosh darn it! Michelle’s going to go bonkers at me for losing money on another bet.

Bill Clinton: (Doobey in hand, puffing but not inhaling) It’s sad Michelle wears the pants in the family. If she wore a skirt, you could give her a little action more often and she wouldn’t be so tight.

(White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney, enters)

Carney: Mr. President, the press is really up my butt to get some statements regarding the Egypt situation. They are especially curious to know what our stand is regarding the increased tyranny of the Muslim Brotherhood regime.

G W Bush: Barak, you gotta be tough with those Muhamedians. Just like I did with Sad Ham Who Sane in Eye Rack.

Obama: Perhaps I should make a statement myself. Hold on guys. Be right back.

(Exit Obama to Press Briefing Room).

Obama (to the press): We believe that Egypt is stable—the only thing that is unstable is the country. Therefore, we would encourage Morsi to resign, but not leave; to not use violent means, but to use force; to spread democracy, but to restrain opposing factions; Egypt has always been our ally, and will always remain our bitch. That’s all I can confirm right now. Thank You.

(Obama goes back to the committee).

Hillary: So, what happened?

Obama: Took a firm stand on spreading democracy. This administration DEFINITELY believes in democracy. Democracy is the very reason WE ARE HERE RIGHT NOW AS LEADERS OF THE PEOPLE.

Bill Clinton: (Doobey still in hand, giggling): Damn, imagine if Democracy REALLY WORKED? Everyone in this room would be so screweddddddddddd…

Colin Powell: Back to Egypt—how are we going to deal with this.

Alan Greenspan: If it were me there, I’d have just fucked up their economy and we’d have them by the balls.

Obama: Actually, we’re already accomplishing that through the IMF. By the way Christine Lagarde, as head of the IMF, we never did thank you for your efforts to break the country.

Lagarde: Well, I can’t take all the credit. The IMF is structured to screw them over.

Biden: Well, hey, if we nip Egypt—all that’s really left is Bashar and Syria and we’ll own the Aye-rabs, all of them…’Syria-ously’.

Conde: Hardy har har… ‘Syria-ously’…that is a good one, Joe.

GW Bush: Huh?

Hillary: (sweating buckets of water) GOD DAMN IT! It’s more humid in here than under Monica Lewinski’s dress! Someone turn on the GOD DAMN air conditioning!

Conde: Hillary, the humidity is really coming from Lewinski’s dress. Your husband’s been under it for the last 5 minutes.

Hillary: GOD DAMN IT, BILL! It’s like walking a poodle in heat that humps every lamp post he meets!

Cheney: JUST shoot ‘em! Just shoot ‘em! Just- (Cheney drops dead on the ground).

G W Bush: Well, lookee there. Cheney died…again.

Powell: I really think we have to handle this thing in Egypt very carefully.

Obama: POWELL! YOU ARE A GENIOUS! That is our strategy: WE WILL HANDLE THE EGYPT SITUATION WITH CARE.

Palin: Oh! I’m a Hockey Mom! A pit bull with lipstick! I can give you some really really neat tips from Home and Garden Magazine on how to handle it with care!

GW Bush: I still don’t get it. ‘Syria-ously’?

Bush Senior: For Christ’s sake nitwit, it’s a pun!

GW Bush: Really? Is that so? Like a buttermilk or more like a Kaiser?

Lagarde (to Bush Senior):  How many times did you drop him on his head when he was a kid?

Bush Senior: Once just once. He dropped himself a few times after that.

Obama: Great then. We know what to do. HANDLE WITH CARE. Now, let’s end this meeting with a group prayer.

(All together): “God, please grant us the financial power to corrupt the countries we can, and to oppress the ones we can’t. And please grant us the wisdom to know the difference.” Amen.”

Obama: Okay! Now a group hug! (They all gather and hug).

Conde: We’re missing Bill.

Hillary: (Totally relaxed and happy): No we’re not… FOR ONCE… he’s under MY SKIRT.

In Me Alone, Veritas

No sarcasm. No snide remarks to mask the sting.

It’s 7:48 in Cairo. I have a few days off work. And after pulling 80 hour weeks for the past 6 months, you’d think I’d be running around like a highschool quarterback on spring break in Fort Lauderdale, both arms raised, hands in a V-shape, screaming , ‘wooooohoooooo!’

Turns out, not so much.

Listening to Florence and the Machine’s ‘Shake it Out’ (the acoustic version), the lyrics have cornered me into facing what I have worked so hard not to face.

The truth.

“And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
And given half the chance would I take any of it back
It’s a fine romance but it’s left me so undone
It’s always darkest before the dawn”

As her voice reverberates, it echoes hard through the room. Though it hasn’t shattered the glass vases, the glasses windows or the ugly porcelain ashtray I made when I was 5, it has shattered my ability to fight facing me.

A CEO of a major company, I can face.
A guy with an ego extending from Zeus, I can face off.
Anything opposing me, people…

I can face.

Except myself.

What is it exactly that is so horrible about me that I cannot face? Unfortunately, it’s not a Freudian demon spawning from not being breast fed.

I wasn’t breast fed. I’m okay with that.

It’s not my terrible failure at a career. Been there, done that, got the titles.

Turns out career titles are like book titles.

They’re just titles.

It’s not achieving success. Been there, got that.

Turns out success is like a beautiful woman.

They’re sexy for about ten minutes.

It’s not having found ‘my other half’.

Anyone who is looking for that has a bigger problem- if you are half a person, you should be out looking for your own other half.

It’s not nasty relationships. The men in my life were not assholes. Truth be told, they could never ‘do anything to me’, because I never allowed it.

They just didn’t work out. I wasn’t ready. They weren’t ready. What bonded us together was no being ready. You can see why it only worked well for a limited time only.

What I have to face is much harder, harsher and remains the most infinitely unaccomplished quest in all of human history.

‘What do I want?’.

Being a coward of proportionately stupendous arrogant levels, I circumvented this quest by a process of elimination- yes, I flipped the quest on its head and did a Yoda, asking myself,

‘Want I what not?’.

See, the idea is by filtering out and saying no to everything you don’t want, you arrive at what you do want.

In theory.

In reality, you end up saying no to so many things that you aren’t traveling light, you are traveling weightless.

And there’s a difference.

Because some of the things you weeded out and threw in the ‘not want’ pile were threads that lead to other ‘not wants’ that lead to other ‘not wants’ that one day, lead to ‘oh, my God, I want it!’

But, I didn’t realize that until now. So, I’ve got a real conundrum on my hands. How the fuck do I figure out what I want when I don’t have any don’t wants lying around that may lead me there?

In physics, the laws of the universe and nature, something cannot come from nothing.

I’m no physicist, but I’m pretty sure they’re right. After all, if they weren’t, I would be cornered right now.

I love many things- and each one of them gives me something I want, and each one of them ignites a passion within me- a happiness that is beyond being expressed by metaphors, similes and literary devices used to prostitute emotions.

Cooking, singing, painting, writing, exploring, traveling, philosophy, economics, discussing God, debating politics, anaylizing the complexities of simplicities- from the commonalities of human universals, to the idiosyncrasies of individual cultures…

Centuries ago, there was something called ‘the Renaissance Man’- a Francis Bacon, a DaVinci, a Jefferson- men who didn’t have a ‘specialty’, but diversified their talents into both science and the arts, into the psychological and physiological, into the abstract of the art and the preciseness of science.

I don’t know how they did that. Of all the manifestos and essays they left behind for us to study, the one thing they didn’t leave behind is ‘Becoming a Renaissance Man for Dummies’.

If I wasn’t at such the ridiculously mature age of 38 (mind you, the age is mature, I don’t claim the girl wearing it is anymore befitting of it than a 5 year old playing dress up in her mother’s stiletto heals), my quest would be well justified and tolerable. It would be rational, healthy and a step closer to self-actualizing my being.

But at 38, it’s one of the most embarrassing diseases known to society. A mid-life crisis.

At this point, I’d be more comfortable to admit I have crabs or chlamydia.

What’s even more bloody sick, is that I still have hope. I do, honestly. It’s a bit worn out, but the soles are still in tact. I can still walk in my hope without too much blistering.

Because that’s all I can do now. Walk. Even when I’m sleeping, I’m walking. When I’m eating, I’m walking.

But, as I do walk along, when I come to an intersection of choices, I am not going to choose one by process of elimination. I am going to choose one because I want to go down that path.

Not because I want what is down that path.

But because what I want is somehow connected to that path.

If that doesn’t make sense, it might have to do with the wine I’m drinking as I write this.

Don’t worry though, it makes sense to me. And that’s really the only one who has to get it.

I Was Going to be a Fashion Designer, So I Studied Political Theory in Grad School…

A couple of drawings of my design vision at 16… she got lost along the way and did ‘the right thing’, going to grad school…it feels funny looking back at them, but it feels good that I can still relate to that girl on some level.

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