Thoughts

Selling uncomfortable silence

Apart from the dull hiss of pop music oozing through the speakers at work, and the regimental stare from my half-used coffee cup…nothing else is happening. I feel that when you leave something long enough in one place, it begins to stare. It’s almost as if you forgot it was there, and now it’s silence is baring down on your neck. Most people ignore the character that forms around your office implements. Most people ignore most things.

 

It’s sobering to see how most people amble along without looking carefully at the things they are saying. At the moment I’m a salesman. Plenty of times I see people remarking “I bet they sell like hot cakes.” Now, this is where I stop and pause. Have you ever gone to the bakery and asked for a hot cake? In fact have you met someone who has come out of the bakery raving about there hot cake they just bought. I’ve seen people queue outside a store for the latest Harry Potter book…never for a hot cake. They must be somewhere since everyone is talking about them.

 

Very rarely do we stop to examine the  words we’re using. Why is that? Perhaps it’s exhausting. I suppose the real reason is it will in turn make us start to question who we are. The minute you start to question yourself and your own motives, things become a little scary. Are we a product of what we talk about? Words are vehicles that help us make friends, get through school, get through our first job interview, loose friends, lie to our colleagues and betray others.

 

I’m a salesman, and talking is part of my day. When someone inquires about a product I naturally question their needs, then once I get a feel for them I continue onto my general sales pitch. I have to be careful, sometimes I’ll side with one product over the other if I feel it’s going to win over the customer. Words are the tool I use to earn money, the more persuasive the more I sell…the more money I make.

 

Tonight I did feel a sting of regret though I must be honest. Every odd night I see the last minute customer who rush breathless to our doors once we have closed them. There was a middle-aged man who rushed to our doors tonight. He was dressed in a mediocre way. A signal I always look out for which tells me (most of the time) how much money the customer is willing to spend.

 

He explained to me (through tremendous gulps of air) that he was leaving the country tomorrow morning and desperately needed our one adapter we sold. Like many other people before him I turned him down, explaining that the shopping centre would fine us, if we continued to trade after hours. I saw the pain and desperation in his face, the look like life was about to fade away into a plughole. I felt like a snob. Selfish. I was a young working class kid, who wanted to get home after the long day and didn’t care a thing about him.

 

That is most likely a better way of looking in on yourself. Like many other uncomfortable feelings, I tucked it under the carpet that stores other dirty memories.

 

PhilosopherPoet

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poetry

surfaces

he pours velvet feelings
into her head
naturally she giggles
and slides under the
chocolate cloak of emotion

he uses coffee bars
twice a week
to feel alive
read the electric events
in the news
polish his blonde bauble
until he starts to see
more of himself in the
intense reflection

she guffaws
at his plastic punchlines
muffin crumbs crawl into the
painted veins of her jeans

she uses vodka
twice an evening
to silence
the babbling of the
television
a wilted cigarette squeezed
into her paper fingers

tonight she fucked
with first date adrenaline
tingling in her thighs

he thought it went well
for such a small hotel bed
and those naive notions of love
echoing out of her anxious eyes

you have to play women like cards
he told me
the liquid apathy punched out
paragraphs into the tender air
you pick one up then throw it away

 

PhilosopherPoet

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poetry

plodding

he told the boy that
there is a ghost
inside him

it’s not a movienhanced
entity that stalks the
broad bed covers but rather
a mist of the mind

you see when a boy sails
the severe starboard side
of family calamity you leave
the gentle fragments of insight
very little to go on

that ghost wears a robe
it catches the rising
light
it flickers for a second
then he sings the old rhyme
frankly the only one
this shaken psyche knows

the father told the boy
there is a ghost inside
that fertile laugh

but ghosts are only
the bones we choose
to play with at night

the boys ghost developed
gradually over the pebbles
of playgroundimples
and the screaming
puppets
parents
paint
and tell
you to believe the Book
without doubt

you have to talk it down
the father said
he gets a gravetching
in those tender eyes
solid as stones

the boy hopes to gather
some heavy fragments
tomorrow and place it
into the abundant sun
where
he’ll make a mirror

small enough to carry
big enough to watch
foreign eyes smile
through saffron tears

and maybe learn
to shave the grazes
off the ghost down
to the bones that
figments are built on

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Reviews, Technology

Could ’social viruses’ ruin your company’s reputation?

Link: http://www.smartplanet.com/business/blog/business-brains/could-social-viruses-ruin-your-companys-reputation-how-to-build-resistance/8972/

Social networks, as the name says, are “social,” and thus subject to the shifts in behaviors, norms, and attitudes that affect any group of people. There are both constant negative and positive streams surging through these networks that can change minds and re-mold opinions.

Organizations attempting to harness the power of social networks need to be aware and prepare for the ways social networks — which can be notoriously fickle — can quickly impact brand perception, or sow fear, uncertainty and doubt.

Boris Pluskowski in a recent post, raises the possibility that some companies may attempt to manipulate social networks to undermine competitors. In considering this really dark side of social networking, there is a possibility that competitors may purposely attempt to plant “social viruses” to attack or convert the social networks of competitors. Imagine one company proliferating negative statements and accusations about a competitor’s products and services within a network. It happens in sales circles all the time, right?

Yes, social networks have innate self-policing and self-editing capabilities to put the kibosh on such behavior, but still, damage can be done in the meantime. And, unlike a situation in which a sales representative disses a competitor’s product in the privacy of a customer’s office, the diss goes viral across the globe.

Pluskowski references the work of James Fowler, co-author of Connected, who demonstrates the powerful influence social networks have on attitudes and behavior. (”Your colleague’s husband’s sister can make you fat, even if you don’t know her. A happy neighbor has more impact on your happiness than a happy spouse.”)

“I can certainly envision ways in which companies could manipulate a few key individuals to enable them to corrupt a competitor’s user community,”Pluskowski explains. “Sowing seeds of discontent, and setting up the consumers to be virally vulnerable to the possibility of alternative realities.  Could we then be on the verge of a new weapon in the corporate strategic arsenal?”

The best defense against such lowly tactics to to develop a strong, social virus-resistant social network. Pluskowski provides this advice:

“Engender a strong goodwill and feeling within your community, and you’ll find that it’ll be resistant to negative vibes… Cross your community though, and that bad feeling will spread far and wide like wildfire.”

The iPhone 4 is a great example of a community resistant to negative vibes, Boris illustrates: “Despite all its difficulties and problems, people are still buying it –- not because it’s that much of a better phone than anything else on the market (nor even its previous version the 3GS) –- but rather because Apple’s conditioned its community to be resistant to negative viruses by ensuring that they not only respond, but also try to over-satisfy the customer whenever possible. As a result, the community of Apple buyers continues strong, and continues to grow in number.”

Pluskowski also recommends that organizations nurture a new skillset – that of the “social doctor, able to diagnose potential viruses prior to them taking effect and injecting the corporate social world with the virtual equivalent of vitamins to re-enforce it.”

Business leaders also need to be eternally vigilant about showing sensitivity and concern for customer communities, Boris adds. Unfortunately, this sensitivity and concern “is currently alien to the majority of companies who still treat their social networks as a sales and marketing tool rather than a living, breathing symbiotic organism.”

PhilosopherPoet

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Film, Reviews

the L word

I’ve often heard fellow heterosexual men joke about being lesbian. It’s one of those big mysteries…why lesbians are a turn-on to heterosexual men? Part of the reason (some may even say problem) is Western chauvinism has socialized us that way. We are meant to believe that a man and a woman is a natural combination. But then if you start to mix it…whoa, you’re in trouble. I find it fascinating that our cultures values are influenced by society, which is in fact popular opinion which has evolved over time. That said this brings me to marvel at a TV series I’ve recently been watching, the L word.

The title is ambiguous. Clearly the ‘L’ is for the term lesbian, although it can also be associated with other words. The words love, laughter, life, longing, lilting, Los Angeles, lonely night, legally, lawfully, laurels, liberal, lightning, lecherous, least, lewd, literature, lesson, leaving, luscious, lithe, list, leggy, lust, label, limpid, lips, laps, lyrics, liquid, launch, large, lasting, lacking, languorous and looking also appear in the title. (Generally you wouldn’t have time to read all of that.) This is a fairly good summary of the series itself, however I’ll elaborate.

There is a group of lesbians that this story revolves around. (See below.)

the-l-word-season-5-the-l-word-640143_1024_768

They are all successful women, but like all of us, they struggle with their personal lives. At first when I sat down to watch this I was highly skeptical, since I thought it was going to be a glamorized porn film. Look it is certainly explicit throughout the series, but it’s is still hugely profound. It’s an in-depth look at what lesbians get up to, and the challenges that they face.

So far I’ve only watched the first season, but it’s so intensely emotional it’s actually brought me to tears on a few occasions. Mostly I’m a cynic when watching and reviewing cinema, although this one I have to speak differently about. Of course I won’t deny that part of the appeal is because I’m a straight guy. I’m not convinced that a straight woman would find this series compelling.

IMO there are two major reasons why I would recommend this series. That would be the dynamic cast and the multifarious storylines. It’s intensely layered with emotion and honesty, and because of that I believe it’s one of the most accurate glimpses you’ll get of the lesbian world. This is one of those series that is not for the faint-hearted, so try and be open-minded when you approach it.

PhilosopherPoet

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Junk, Rantings

How to Bag a Man

I thought about trying some reverse psychology for a change. I would usually write something about how to make decent girls appreciate geeky guys. The age old question: how do you get girls to like you?

I’m perfectly, and happily heterosexual so this is a guide to women on how to find, and understand men. I’ll start off by saying that generally (99% of the time, and 99% of men) have the emotions of and oak tree. They are pretty non-existent so there is a very easy way to see it.

Men – play a game to eventually get around to talking about it.

Women – talk about it and eventually get around to playing the game.

What this simply means is being practical (“hands on”) and being emotional (“in touch”). Men will for example say what is necessary at work and in a social context. Make them play a sport together once a week and you’ll soon find them opening up and joking together. So if a woman is looking to bag a man, she should look for a game of some kind, doesn’t necessarily mean in a literal sense.

When men talk, socialize, and so on it is based on what game they are in (pub, soccer game, fishing trip, etc). Men will meet up socially because of the game they are playing. Women will engage and there ‘game’ will be based on what led before it.

I’ll cut to the chase with a common example. Isn’t it a bit of a cliché that when it comes to sex, a woman wants to wait and talk it through, but a man wants to follow through? I know that I’m arguing from a shaky foundation since I’m basing my answers on assumptions.

Women may sometimes take their time making a decision, because they are looking out for others. Men want to make it for themselves, although since the rise of Feminism my comments do stand on very shaky ground. I’d just also like to add that the characteristics (or foibles) each gender has is more of a strength. It should be seen as a piece of a larger issue.

This is Officially the end now (I do this before my head starts spinning around in circles!)

PhilosopherPoet

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