A very Zen kind of Fame


Zen tree corridor in Newlands forest

Since Greg started his new IT and financial services training company, Celerated, he’s been obsessing about LinkedIn. I’d always thought LinkedIn was a bit of a joke – the hipsters flocked to twitter, the Mums to Facebook, the nerds congregated on LinkedIn – but apparently this ‘is just not true!’ LinkedIn is ‘imperative for networking’.

No wonder I’ve never taken to it then. I don’t think I’ve ever networked with a single person ever, anywhere, or at least with any measure of success. I have, however, sidled up to people at cocktail parties but mostly because their snacks looked better than mine, or at least they displayed greater dexterity at managing to hold drinks, serviettes, toothpicks with blocks of cheese and gherkins – and this surely hinted at broader skills.

But if Greg were on LinkedIn, then I, too, was going to do it, because I’m competitive as fuck supportive and helpful. I dusted off my old LinkedIn profile only to find that a whole lot of people had endorsed my skills. Me?!! Skills??! I read through them appreciatively. It seems I’m good at:

  • negotiating (I have conducted some psychological experiments on my family that have involved negotiation)
  • strategic planning (sure, why not) – whatever that is
  • Microsoft Office (that’s like endorsing someone for eating lunch)

This was all very flattering, until I looked at who had endorsed me. That’s when the penny dropped. I’d never heard of most of them, which meant that they couldn’t possibly know me. This made sense when I considered that there was no photograph of me on LinkedIn. Nobody knew who the hell I was! Clearly that was why they had endorsed me. They were probably confusing me with other Lisa Lazaruses. (There’s a whole pack of us out there. Be warned!) I wondered if this insight could be taken much further. Would I be much more popular on FB, Twitter if I just wasn’t me?

I feel I’ve discovered something crucial here: about how much better it is not to be really known. I’m told that fans of Justin Bieber are called Beliebers. Presumably they appreciate the presence, now and then, of the Bieber himself. But things might be different for fans of me. Maybe the Belisas are kept at the right pitch of excitement when they never encounter their star at all. Certainly works for me.

Six Dangerous Things

One of the best things about Tony Soprano was that you knew he was psychopathic, but you liked him anyway. Each time, you thought he’d behave better; naturally, he never did. He was consistently disappointing you, but he remained addictive. It makes me think of Facebook.

Having witnessed mob mentality on FB recently, I was struck by the following: grem

  1. There are a hang of a lot of moderate people who hold themselves back in these debates. This skews the results. People believe they have more support and / or criticism than they really have because most people just don’t want to get involved. They stand back. In some ways it resembles the famous bystander effect in psychology.
  2. I think that people tend to be less aggressive to each other face-to-face, because body language (a raised eyebrow, a slight smile) both diffuses tension and moderates what you say next in social situations, at least some of the time. In other words, it’s better to go and have a drink with people who have different views to your own than engage with them on social media.
  3. Social media makes itself feel like the whole world when actually you have just self-selected into that little piece of the world. Often an echo chamber is created, where you think certain people have a lot more power / support than they really have. They are merely surrounded by people who repeat their sentiments. If you follow different people, you create a different world. (Parts of this last thought come from my friend Ryan.) *

Seeing as though I’m discussing dangerous things, like Facebook mobs, I thought I would also try to bring the topic closer to home by thinking of dangerous things I’ve done.  (Because it’s my blog, I don’t need to worry about logical transitions).

I’ve put them in ascending order of danger:

  1. I’ve smoked a giant joint in Dahab with somebody who had supposedly descended from Egyptian aristocracy. He rolled the joint from newspaper. It gave me a terrible headache.
  2. I’ve engaged in a sexual activity under Rondebosch bridge in the middle of the night. (Not recently.)
  3. I’ve swum in a hotel swimming pool in Malaysia during a lightning storm. It was exhilarating.
  4. I’ve got engaged after seeing someone in person for five days. (We did write letters before that.)
  5. I’ve had two children. I know it doesn’t seem that having children is dangerous, but the genetic lottery means it’s entirely unpredictable. The child is not, as one would think, an equal blend of the parents. Some tartar rapist ancestor genes (always been my mother’s theory about how I got my red hair from my Russian ancestors) or a genius musical gene can get mixed into the DNA milkshake. Anything can happen.

* For further social media theories, check out the famous Lazarus Lemon Meringue Pie vs Oral Sex Facebook ‘easy like’ principle .