Friday, November 21, 2008

face value - part 2

In some cultures, it's considered normal to read backwards. For the rest of us who need to start with face value - part 1, here's technology to the rescue. Click.

Here I go again – breaking up personality types on Facebook and gouging chunks out of my friend list. I promised you last week that I would get to the bottom of a category that does the same with facts. Here you have it.

The piles-to-show-before-I-sleep type

Any apprehension that you might feel about the term piles is ummm… justified. But then again, if you have friends who belong to this personality type, you are used to seeing much worse on news feeds.

People of the piles-to-show-before-I-sleep type believe their lives are courtroom dramas and that every moment is an opportunity to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Do not make the mistake of thinking that everyone of this personality type has been weaned on the same truth drug. Here’s a sub-classification based on which part of the oath these truth seekers prefer.

The truth sub-type: Truthful to the core (and I do mean core), these people fervently and regularly spill the beans on your home page. There’s a theory floating around that they don’t really spill beans but consume them in large amounts.

You learn a lot by just reading these people's updates. For instance, you find out exactly how long upset stomachs last and the multi-sensory effects they’re capable of. You know which of your friends’ friends had one too many last night and which one is planning to put in her resignation letter next week.

The whole truth sub-type: These people’s ancestors are rumoured to have inspired the birth of holistic health sciences. You find this easy to believe when you see the passion with which they include every scrap of body (every appendage, however vestigial), mind and soul in the term ‘self. Naturally, a question like ‘what are you doing right now?’ cannot be answered in less than a wholesome paragraph.

At 1 am in the morning, they won’t just tell you they’re still counting sheep. They will tell you how many sheep, which ones were sheared and how nauseous the mottled ones made them feel. They will also keep updating their status every few minutes as the sheep count increases.

If you want further proof that you’ve got one of these people on your friend lists, ask them what a précis is. Most of them think it’s a term for an ironed outfit.

Nothing but the truth sub-type: These people display incredible courage in their pursuit of the truth. Ask them to choose from interesting, witty, fun and truthful, and their unflinching choice remains truthful, however boring it may make them.

Sadly, this uncompromising honesty limits the answers these people have to the status question. They're cornered into telling you that they’re at the computer, looking at the screen or updating their status. Another sign of courage of these heroes among personalities is that each one would rather watch friends die painfully of boredom than give up the truth.

Next: Life at punpoint

Monday, November 17, 2008

face value

“What are you doing right now?”

Simple unambiguous question, wouldn’t you say? It used to be, till the folks at Facebook (consciously or accidentally) upgraded it to a complex personality test.

They’ve done this in two simple but lethal steps. One, they’ve called the answer a status update. And two, they’ve put your update out there for all to see. This means your actions can now speak louder than a heavily monogrammed Louis Vuitton bag.

This promise (or threat) seems to have brought cracking order to the fuzzy group of people we loosely and fondly call friends.

With just one question, the haves have been spliced cleanly from the have beens. The have beens in turn are separated from the been-there-done-thats. The list goes on, too long for this post to hold, without butting into the next blog.

So installments it is. Here’s the first of the ‘types’ I’ve discovered, as a part of my fully fatru research, triggered by new preference options. These let me see the status updates of not just friends, but friends of friends and friends of friends of friends. So all those of my friends with fingers on the block friend button, it may not be about you...

The so-much-to-show-so-little-space type

I think this personality type started reading the term status updates, but gave up halfway through the two-word plot. “The ending is obvious no ya?” they thought. “Actual mein, I already know that the only word that goes well with status is symbol.”

Signs of luxury, wealth and success ooze out richly from these people’s updates like ghee from a mysore pak. Any new acquisition makes it here faster than pirated copies of a new movie at the grey market.

To spot this type, you should know that some of them use a deceptively humble tone. Do not be fooled by it - it’s not a sign of modesty anymore than a 5-bedroom villa is a garib khaana. To get behind the fuzz of humility, look out for the clever use of interactive features like comments.

For example, consider this.

Gori C. is homesick for Indian food. Watch how this one grows in status with comments like, 'which part of the world are you in NOW?' And ‘you jet setter you!’ Do not make the mistake of saying 'awwww why don’t you come home for some dal chawal', unless you want to see the gory side of Gori.

Another example is the innocent info seeker who keys in SomeRat wants to know how long transpacific jet lags last. If you really want to know the answer to that SomeRat, you're in the wrong place. Try search engines pet.

Another specialty of this type of personality is that time has no meaning for them. If our barons are talking about new acquisitions which they don't have yet or anymore, this is how they will get the tenses to slave for them.

Present tense: La di da is awed by the beauty of her private island.

Past tense: D. Leer’s finger hurts from the weight of the diamond ring she wore yesterday.

Future tense: Evanna B. can’t wait to meet her new BMW.

If you still haven't spotted the ‘so-much-to-show-so-little-space type’ from among your friends, try this final surefire method. Think of any clichéd line about love and replace love with status. Status conquers all. True status is forever. Status makes the world go round. If it works for any of your friends, bingo, you’ve got your man or woman. Till death do you part.

Next: The Piles-to-show-before-I-sleep type

Sunday, November 9, 2008

can't talk the walk...

Oodles have been said and written about the benefits of hiring telecommuters or people who WAH (Work At Home).

What gets swept under the carpet is the WAAAAH in WAH.

As someone who works at home, I will commit professional suicide (make that two WAAAAHs) and reveal the biggest downside of hiring people like me.

We are incapable of saying the right things.

It's not as though we don't want to say what's right. We just don't know the right words. Spending as long as we have away from meetings and workshops has made our corporate jargon skills as obsolete as hardbound dictionaries.

At a meeting for example, if a client spits out a question about B2B, we won't waffle impressively about comparisons with B2C. We can't. We're more likely to jump into making inadvertently embarrassing statements about Hamlet quotes or pencil types.

When we agree with something, we'll say yup. Or at a stretch, yes. Never the infinitely more effective "I resonate with that" or "I am aligned with your thinking".

If you suggest in a crowded room that we take something offline, we are likely to respond by diving under the table to yank off the internet cable. And when asked to park a thought, we'll helpfully offer to send our drivers over.

Be warned that keeping us out of meetings is not a solution. Our corridor conversations are just as bad (challenging as they have been referred to by one of you). When people ask us to give them a shout, our vocal cords swell obligingly to the proportions of bull frogs in heat. When asked to give a tinkle, er... let's not even go there. Let it suffice to say that when you promise to touch base, our response is preceded by a nervous gulp and surreptitious look at your bottoms.

So if you want to hire us, do so for what we're good at.

We're good at our work and we know all about books, movies and eating/drinking places. What do you think we do with the time and money we save on fuel?

We're tops at email communication, because where there's email, there's google. We can then search for what you mean when you use terms like conversation threads and win-win.

But if you want someone who sounds as exotic as a foreign film without subtitles to lesser mortals, we're not it.

You see, we ARE the lesser mortals in question now.