Why I Didn't Hate Maleficent

Something unusual happened to me yesterday. My friends and I left the cinema and everyone was bitter and angry and agitated – except for me. Highly opinionated, intellectually snobbish and very emotional, the furious one is usually me. There were countless moments I’d leave the cinema wanting to punch the director and the producer and the whole crew just to get rid of the anger that collected while I watched their offensive trash. This time, I left quite satisfied, I dare even say: mesmerized. “The story didn’t make sense, the first act was completely different, CGI was so cheesy, I wanted to see the story of Maleficent and not Sleeping Beauty retold, what’s with the lesbian connotation, there were so many cheap tricks (including freezing characters to make them shut up)!” My friends were furious.

I stayed quiet, listened to their complaints and wondered why I didn’t hate it. It took me some time to figure it out. But then I got it:

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Why George Clooney’s Love Life Matters

I’m so in love with Philosophers’ Mail idea of giving gossip deeper meaning that I’m going to steal the idea and serve you some gossip. Apparently – and this has been a rumor for months – George Clooney is dating…. Ready?.... A successful intelligent woman with a serious profession! Few months ago, they’ve been papped (for all those normal people not living in L.A.: a picture taken by paparazzi) in a car, leaving a restaurant in London. And few days ago, she accompanied him to “The Monuments Men” screening at the White House. (That’s what I call a date!)

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Unapologetic Barbie

So, Barbie just appeared on the cover of the Sports Illustrated 50th anniversary annual swimsuit issue (wearing the swimsuit she wore when she first appeared in shops in 55 years ago). And this cover caused a huge stir. Apparently it’s giving girls a wrong body image. This might be right but I don’t understand why a picture of a doll is worse than a picture of what is supposed to be a live, breathing woman but is so photo-shopped that no live breathing woman, even the one who posed for the picture, could ever look like that. Because her name adorned the title of my first book and because I (believe it or not) used to be nicknamed Barbie, she was always present in my work. This is why in my last interview for Croatian Cosmopolitan, I was asked a very interesting (and tricky) question: What have I learned from Barbie? I was always very quick to criticize Barbie (for her unnatural body image and dumb activities) but never spent one thought wondering if there ever was anything positive to having grown up with Barbie. This really wasn’t an easy question.

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Cheers to "The Philosophers' Mail"

Alain de Botton, one of the world’s most famous living philosophers and author of numerous bestsellers just started a new website called "The Philosophers' Mail". Irritated by the gap between what’s popular and what’s important, he decided to marry the readability and fun of "Daily Mail" (and even its format) with deep perspective, even philosophy. The ultimate goal of this exotic mix is to get people to care about important things. Currently without advertisement, the site has three full time employees (which is amazing, considering that some of most famous sites expect people to write for free). Check it out, it’s fun! You will find articles such as why paparazzi pictures of Natalie Portman playing in the park with her son help motivate people to do mundane things, why Rosie Huntington’s beauty isn’t normal and why low unemployment numbers can mean misemployment. I applaud de Botton (again) and wish his site lots of success!

Link to The Philosophers' Mail

And HELLO Beyoncé!

Beyonce just started her world tour yesterday with a concert in Belgrade. And here is what she had to show us: Nipples. Really Beyonce? What’s next? Stylized insides of your vagina? Tasteless. (And I have nothing against boobs. But either show them or don’t.) I don't want to go into bashing current pop stars' vulgarity because I feel I said/wrote it so many times that I'm getting boring. But Beyonce’s sequin boobs perfectly fit our last conversation (see my blog on Margaret Thatcher from 10 April 2013.) What images of successful women, or role models, do young girls have to look up to today? Either Hilary or Merkel – or Beyonce (`s boobs). Why is there no middle ground? How much femininity is too less and how much is too much?

God bless ancient Greeks and their Sophrosyne.

 

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Bye-bye Margaret!

O.K., so Margaret Thatcher is dead. She passed away couple of days ago and my Facebook wall is still full of her. As my friends are mostly left wing intellectuals (am I bragging?), my wall looks like a competition on who can say worse things about the “Iron Lady”. Yes, she was a horrible neoliberal who, together with her buddy Ronald Reagan, helped to create this mess we are living in. But I got so tired of reading bad things about her. It’s old. We know it. Leave it alone. Let’s invest our energy to find the way out of this mess rather than bash a long forgotten corpse. I felt the urge to write a note on Margaret Thatcher’s death because I feel weirdly connected to her. I do. In a very bizarre way. Since I had a back surgery at age of 15 in which my spine got supported with this long metal rod (called “Harrington”), my friends often referred to me as Iron Lady. I always liked it. For one, I literally do consist of a big amount of metal. But I always considered myself to be some kind of Iron Lady in other ways: I am strong, brave, ambitious. Indestructible. And this is where Margaret Thatcher is important. Whatever her political views were, she did do something good. She became the only female Prime Minister in the history of the UK. She fought for her position in the time and society in which parents still forbade their daughters to attend university believing there is no other position for them in this world then that of a housewife. Thanks to her, I grew up taking for granted that one of the world’s most important political personae is a woman. (On top of it all, she was also feminine – as far as her position would allow. And she was a mother.) Unfortunately, since she left politics, girls haven’t had a picture of a leading female politician to look up to, or simply take for granted.

Hopefully Hillary will change that in a few years.

Till then: Bye-bye Margaret!

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Brave. And Selfish. And Disrespectful.

I simply had to see Brave - it is a story of a tough little medieval princess with gorgeous hair. I also still have a thing for Disney princesses. And fairytales. That incredible cloud of red curls, combined with the magic word “BRAVE” lured me for months from huge billboards all over LA. I was excited about it. I entered the cinema filled with expectation of romantic princess fun mixed with a bit of healthy emancipation. I left the cinema furious, agitated and full of anger. And unfortunately ended going to the only restaurant in the neighborhood where they don’t serve hard liquor. It took two glasses of red wine to get the bear out of my head. Yes, the bear.

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And my Oscar goes to: The Skin

I know it’s 2 days later, but the Oscar just won’t leave me alone.

Yes, there was the one great painful irony of the night: Billy Crystal noticing how refreshing it is in the midst of the global financial crisis to celebrate millionaires giving each other golden statues. Funny. Sad.

But there was another one that went unnoticed. And was even sadder. It was the Oscar for best documentary short. It went to “Saving Face”, a documentary about a plastic surgeon who is helping women who have been injured in acid attacks. It was extremely strange to see clips from the movie showing the suffering of Pakistani women whose faces – and lives – have been destroyed by men throwing acid at them. And then to see Kodak theatre filled with women who just returned from appointments with plastic surgeons in which they paid to have acid put on their faces. And do some (reconstructive?) surgery. For millions of dollars. To make them look younger. So they appeal to men.

No, I have  never seen skin like in LA. Tight, shiny, ageless, story-less, wrinkle-less. Skin that looks beyond young: Skin that looks artificial, plastic. Skin worth a fortune. Skin that went through quite a lot of pain to look that way. Skin that was exposed to acid and cut to pieces in order to attract. Isn’t that some kind of tyranny? Some kind of punishment?

And there it was. The Skin. Right there in that room: Meryl Streep with a forehead of a 18 years old, J.Lo. with a skin 15 years younger, Angie looking like…. something not human. All applauding to “Saving Face”.

Ouch.

L.A. Breasts

L.A. Magazine’s October issue is dedicated to L.A. Women. What a great idea! Maria Shriver on the cover, described as strong, smart, iconic. 2 pages about women who changed the game, 2 pages of a general story about women in L.A., an interview with Wallis Annenberg (a philanthropist), couple of pages about woman heroes…. But then: 4 pages devoted to breasts. Not kidding.

It made me wonder (yet again) why the hell out of all cities in the world, I landed in this city. I know it’s supposed to be cool, ironic and funny. Somehow it isn’t.

And then I imagined a November issue of New York Magazine devoted to N.Y. men. And a 4 pages article about their penises. Am sure they’d have much more amazing stories to tell.

L.A.ouder Than Life

In a sense, Los Angeles can be said to be a surprisingly quiet city. This is because it is so suburban – a patchwork of quiet neighborhoods with a shopping mall or a collection of restaurants and shops splashed every now and there. The City of Angles sleeps a lot. It goes to sleep early and gets up late. Bars and restaurants will empty around nine or ten and so will the streets. The hum of an 18-million-person city will turn into mysterious peace just occasionally disturbed by a stranded helicopter.  Nights are quiet and long – the hum will reappear long after the birds are awake, around eight.

But the reality is, Los Angeles is louder than life.

Where there are people, there is noise. And in Los Angelos, there are a lot of them. Restaurants tend to be over-packed and always play very loud music so guests must scream to understand each other. And, sorry but – women here tend to have uncomfortably shrill voices. A couple of days ago, the lady sitting to my left spoke in such a loud and strange tone that my left ear started humming and hurting. I was scared for my hearing. It gets so serious sometimes that I will enter a restaurant and decide I am not able to dine in such an aggressive noise.

The same goes for bars: Painful. I went to a roller derby game, all excited about finally seeing LA Derby Dolls playing. It was so loud that after two hours, I had a near physical collapse. I ran out, aware that if I stayed in there, I’d either faint or get a nervous break down. I felt like a punching bag for Mike Tyson after a two hour practice jag.  Shops play music. Malls play music. Cars and motorcycles can be so loud that your eardrums threaten to pop. And there are sirens that make the earth tremble. People talk loudly – even when they find themselves (probably by accident) in a quiet restaurant. Teachers in dance classes turn the music up till the floors are shaking. And then scream over the music.

And then there is the gardening. Mowing machines. Weed whackers. Leaf blowing machines. The secret rulers of Los Angeles: The city of manicured gardens needs an army of well-armed gardeners. Every morning, in one or more neighboring gardens, there is a very loud machine running. For hours. Noise that will penetrate your veins and bones and brain. There is no escape.

It gets worse: L.A. cinemas. They are the reason why I bought my first earplugs ever. They are so loud that even with 32 decibel reducing earplugs, I can follow the movies without any problems. The problems start with action scenes. There are no plugs to fight action scenes (and nobody makes movies without action scenes here anymore). The action is so aggressive and the surround systems so powerful that your seat will shake and your lungs will vibrate till they hurt. It’s a physical attack.

But why?

I ask myself this every time I leave the cinema. Why all those explosions, chases and special effects jumping around the mega screens. I know we have always needed entertainment, magic and getaways – they help us to feel alive.

But attacking the human senses to the point of pain and numbness is not entertaining. It is more like a cheap drug.  A knockout drug. Instead of taking you into magical spheres and opening you for new experiences, those movies will hit you till you’re dead.

And dead we are in L.A. With entertainment louder than life, we are losing our ability to hear life at all. Even at night, when it gets very, very quiet again, we are already too deaf to listen.

 

 

Breaking Point(e) - Black Swan

True to Hollywood’s world-conquering strategy of transcending the boundaries between tastes, sexes, age and any other characteristics that might make a person decide NOT to see a movie, Black Swan alchemically achieved being everything for everybody – and in the process nothing to many. It’s ballet movie for horror fans, a female movie for the male audience, an American movie for everyone else on the planet. In this case, the strategy was even prepped with a little extra: unclear expectations. When you don’t know what to expect, it is harder to say no. And in spite of the abundant media coverage, Black Swan was very successful in blurring any expectations. First off, this is not a movie about ballet. This is a movie about that eternally tantalizing war between light and darkness, about the two forces defining the world we live in, just as much as defining who we are. A truly fascinating topic, but unfortunately a bit too clumsily dealt with.

As the great New York Ballet company’s senior ballerina (Winona Ryder) gets forced into retirement, Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman), a young dancer from the corps de ballet is unexpectedly chosen for the main role in the next season’s version of Swan Lake. This legendary ballet tells a story of Odette, a princess turned into White Swan by an evil sorcerer, and her prince charming, who gets seduced by her twin sister Odile, the Black Swan. Both white and black swans are danced by the same ballerina, making this one of the most challenging roles in the ballet repertoire.

Our hero Nina is a perfect white swan. But the artistic director (played by the excellent Vincent Cassel) is deeply unsatisfied with her performance of the Black Swan. So here her task: Nina has to discover the black (swan) inside of her. The director helps her do this in a very strange way – by asking her ballet partner if she was really seductive enough to be fucked (which is cute, considering the fact that in real life, Natalie Portman is actually pregnant with the very same man) and sending her home with instructions to touch herself. A bit low. Very unfair to the world of ballet. And, let’s be honest, perhaps a reason for a law suit?

So the premises are great: A shy, insecure, ballerina of alabaster perfection, until now safely tucked in her pink tulle, is setting off on the fascinating journey of discovering her dark side.

Unfortunately, this is where the film loses it.

Nina’s search for her own black swan goes so many different ways that it leaves the audience confused. The demonic mother (Barbara Hershey), an angry failed ballerina trying to fulfill her dreams through her daughter, tricks us into thinking we are about to see a ballet version of “Rosemary’s Baby.” This turns not to be so. Even if it were, it would be wrong – what we are searching for should be hidden inside, not outside, of Nina.

Then we explore a new potential source of darkness by going through a night of drinking, drugs and lesbian sex – a scene a little too obviously made to lure men into a ballet movie – all under influence of Nina’s wicked  competitor played by Mila Kunis,  with black swan wings tattooed on her back. Too cheap – a night of drugs, booze and sex will probably not sprout black feathers on any white swan. And it will for sure not do anything for her dancing except ruin it.

And then there is the third, and final path towards Nina’s “Black Swan-ness”: She is going crazy. We have some blood splashed in our faces, see some confusing images and are made to wonder what is real and what just a product of Nina’s estranged mind. All in all, we are served a mix of a psycho thriller, splatter and a CGI monster horror film packed into a ballet movie. Too much of everything for ….nothing.

Viewers who know the world of ballet will find Black Swan’s portrayal of this world so wrong that it becomes hilarious. Starting with Portman not even resembling a dancer (being thin does not a ballerina make), you have a company director consciously making wrong casting decisions, a ballerina lacking the strength of character to ever enter a big company, and a mentally and physically bruised dancer who would not survive one single day of rehearsals, let alone make it to the opening night. Also, considering that ballerinas start their brutal training as young as six years old, completely reshaping their bodies so that they can achieve grace required for portraying their roles, computer generated images of a body changing it’s surface to fit the role is just absurd. And offensive. So viewers who know ballet will laugh, and those who expect a horror movie will be disappointed. Those with blurred expectations, though, might enjoy the movie. Aronofsky is a talented storyteller, and the visual interpretation of this claustrophobic world is wonderful; Natalie Portman and her co-stars give very intense and dedicated performances, and there are even a couple of surprises, just so one doesn’t get bored with all that tulle.

Decent entertainment. If you’re not a ballerina, and you don’t think too much.

What's Next?

The last two movies I saw showed lesbian scenes. Both were big and commercial (not the scenes, the movies) - Swan Lake and Love and Other Drugs. What's with that now? Isn’t entertaining industry already earning enough on male fantasies? And what about other industries? Not enough billions for plastic surgeons and cosmetic industry? How many more complexes do women need? It is not enough that our tits are not big enough and our legs slim enough and that we are eventually growing older – now we also have to start changing our sexual practices? How much more of porn industry are we going to allow to creep into our mainstream and our lives?

I had a long discussion about this with my boyfriend. Of course he tried to convince me it is OK. Men also have complexes forced on them, he claims. Like financial success. Apparently, they are made to believe they should have couple of millions on their bank accounts to be attractive. Maybe, but I see a big difference here. Earning a couple of millions is highly dependent on various outside factors. A woman not willing to engage into lesbian sex to fulfill a sexual fantasy (which, by being so present in our media, is turned into something that should be expected) depends solely and purely on her. So she is made to feel like this is normal and she’s simply not doing enough. Or willing enough. You chose.

I said I wish mainstream movies were full of scenes of two hot studs satisfying one woman. They would be, he said, if women watched more porn and there was a demand for something like this. Yeah  right, so now the fact that we are forced to see only what men want is our own fault. Then he tried to explain it as a way  to lure men into movies such as Love and Other Drugs. Hello, the movie is full of Anne Hathaway’s gorgeous naked body having sex, her breasts dangling around the picture. And we STILL need lesbian sex to lure men into cinema? What’s next?

Then he told me it’s our fault because women are not boycotting it. It is our fault that we allow this to influence us, and some of us have breast enhancement surgeries and have lesbian sex. Which makes others feel unattractive. If all women said no… What then? That’s just lame.

All in all, just another proof that this is a male world. Still. And ever more so.

Next!

Let me tell you about my latest discovery: www.chatroulette.com Yes, I know I'm late. Chatroullette was launched in November 2009 and covered by numerous media in early spring 2010. Still, many people don't know about it. I haven't either. This is exactly what I like about being back at the universtiy - I get to leave my closed world of same age/occupation/status/interests and learn about some other stuff. The newest hype! What makes Chatroullette so interesting is that it is more than application -  it is a fantastic social (and media) experiment. It is a mirror for the mankind to look at and see what we must see, not what we'd like to see. I like Chatroulette because it proves my thesis that if you leave people anonymous, without any rules and control (and yes - without a punishment), they turn into a bunch of ruthless, sex-obsessed mob. They will shove their dick into your face and click you away without a pardon the second you don't fulfill their present needs.

The application has been created by a 17years old Russian programmer. Just for the fun of it. As the user number started growing, his family collected money for the unexpected expansion - the kid needed some more severs. Have we found a new Zuckerberg here? Is yet to be seen. But let's get back to Chatroulette. It is a very simple application which puts random people together for a video-chat. No need to log in, no need register - so it's simple and completely anonymous. The only thing you need is a computer and a webcam. Go to www.chatroulette.com and you'll see yourself in one window, your random chat partner in the window above, a text-chat window and two buttons: NEXT and STOP (I didn't get the point of  the STOP button yet, maybe you can figure it out). You get to meet random people from all around the world. You can chose from up to 22,000 people online. They are just a click away. And gone in just one click as well.

And here the Chatroulette phenomenon: 1. You're completely anonymous so you can do whatever you want 2. The moment you don't like the person you just click NEXT. This needs no explanation, no excuse. People do it anytime, even in the middle of a sentence or a chat. The moment there is anything they don't like you're gone. Or the moment you don't do what they want you to do (masturbate). A very painful experience for people with low self-esteem. 3. It is all about masturbating men. 80% of people you find are... dicks. 4. People stick something over their cam so it does't show their picture. Here's the trick: When you do this, 90% of people think that if they can't see anyone, no one is watching. How stupid is that? So they style their hair and check their teeth in the camera, or just go on masturbating.

Apart from getting an overdose of masturbating dicks (hey, why do only ugly little dicks masturbate online?), I had following experiences: A Turkish guy with no teeth sitting in an internet cafe. Many men from places like Las Vegas, London and Lisbon. They all clicked me away the moment they saw my whole (tired and unmade-up) face or the moment Marcus came into the picture. (although they were not masturbating, they were obviously looking for sex). A woman who was interested in sex with me (sex). A couple getting it on full picture in front of the camera. Few minutes after I found them, they got interrupted by someone who I would swear was his wife (or mother) - suddenly they jumped up and started dressing and just as I was wondering what kinky new sexual practice that was, a screaming woman entered the picture. I witnessed another 3 minutes of the fight, then someone finally thought of switching the camera off (sex). Advertisement for sex chat (sex). My neighbor Marcus claims he had a very nice 20 minutes long chat with a guy from Amsterdam. I don't know if I want to believe that.

Yes, Chatroulette is wild, horny west of internet. A zoo of dicks AND men looking for sex. Pity. Because the idea of finding random people from all around the world for a short chat is actually very cool. But the reality is not. Still, Chatroulette is a fantastic social experiment. Also, you can use it as a platform for your ownn experiments - to test when, how and why people react the way they react. I decided to put on full hair and make up next time, just to see the difference in the reaction (and NEXT rates). I also want to see how the men react if you play they game and immediately ask them for sex. Someone proposed to define chatroom topics. Dickroulette for whoever wants to share the masturbating experience. And then Footballroulette, Partyroulette, whatever... But you see, we need rules to make it work. Otherwise we're simply stuck masturbating. Next.

My Last 1 on S&C (I promise!)

Hmmmm, I did it other way round and it miraculously worked: First I wrote my commentary on “Sex & the City 2” for 3 newspapers/magazines and 2 platforms – and then I went to see the movie. Last night. Ugh…. Although I was prepared for disappointment, it was much (much, much) worse then expected. I don’t have to say much (I already wrote my statements, and they perfectly fit) because everyone else is saying it. The most hurting part is that the movie is turned into one big advertisement.  The second most hurting part is that the series, which we loved for its realism (with a touch of magic) has turned into pure magic with no touch of realism whatsoever. The third most hurting thing is that the main characters haven’t gone though any character development or transformation (in 12 years). And we all know that the major point of any dramaturgical development is the main character’s development. None here. Charlotte is crying because she has two kids and when nanny is away, she gets a nervous break down. Taking care of your own two children is so enormously hard (even though you’re not working and have loads of money) that you even accept a porn-star nanny as long as she takes away the horrible burden of your own (2) kids from you. Samantha is 50-something and still fucking around. Miranda doesn’t like her job but likes working so she gets a new job. And Carrie…. If you didn’t hate Carrie during the series (I didn’t), you must start hating her now. Because now, all bad parts of her character come out. She’s self-obsessed, materialistic, egoistic and completely insensible of the needs and feelings of people around her. She repeats the most stupid mistake she made in the series – and this time, she even gets awarded for it! It was hard not to puke during the opening shopping scene. It was VERY hard not to puke during the karaoke scene. But IMPOSSIBLE during this one.

I really, really hope they don’t plan another film.

I’m sure all fans will pray together with me: “Sex and the City” – RIP!

What does Tajder mean when she says "Bimbo"

Because it is now being discussed about what I meant when I said “Bimbo” during the discussion on Club 2, here a definition from Wikipedia, just to avoid any misunderstandings: “Bimbo is a term that emerged in popular English language usage in the early 20th century to describe a physically attractive but unintelligent woman.”

Bimbo got stuck with me as the name for the over-sexualised, unnaturally perfect (or über-perfect) image of women that we have been bombarded with by the media in recent years. I got the name from the game called Miss Bimbo, which was launched two years ago and made a huge furore because it was targeted to 9-16 years old girls while the task was to “make your Bimbo (avatar) the sexiest, richest and most famous Miss Bimbo in the world”. This was to be done via shopping, beauty treatments, diets and plastic surgery. To do this, Bimbo needed money, which she gets, among other, from her boyfriend “Your boyfriend will (hopefully) give you some money every day. Because he loves you.”

First launched in France, the game reached 1,2 million users within few weeks. I wrote about this phenomenon in my article "Happiness is Just a Makeover Away" which was published in The Vienna Review in August 2008. Due to bad publicity and raging parents, the game has been somehow changed. Now, for instance, the task is to „Become the hottest, coolest most intelligent and talented bimbo the world has ever known!”  But Miss Bimbo is still a bimbo.....

For more information, go to www.missbimbo.com

Coma in a coma

We have an overdose of catastrophes. I wonder how much we really need of the global media. Just few days ago, I was sitting in Tirol finally enjoying some peace when I turned on CNN and saw a volcano eruption in Philippines. And I thought “How horrible, but sorry, I just don’t want to know”. I can’t process all of that. The world has always been full of wars and natural catastrophes but people were only aware of the ones that struck them. Now we have to digest every singe ounce of pain happening on any single spot of this planet. Whenever you turn your TV on or open newspapers, some disaster will jump on you. It is too much. We just cannot absorb that amount of tragedies. As Nietzsche, said “if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” The possible results are: either we get immune, or we get swollen by the abyss. None is good.

Virtual Pollution

Finally it is my time to bitch about Facebook! Our love relationship has turned into a love-hate relationship. I like(d) social networks. I am home in two different countries. Also, I went to an international school and an international university, and later worked in international business (woha, check this international chick out), so my friends are scattered all around the world. The networks are the the easiest way to keep in touch. So, I am everywhere: Facebook, Myspace, Linkedin, Xing, Small World, Internations, Twitter and some other site whose name I forgot. And yes, I admit, I have 390 friends on Facebook. And no, I don’t know them all – some of them are my readers who have expressed the wish to become my virtual friends. Virtual. That part is slowly fading away. But it is important because that is where the problem hides. Few weeks ago, I posted  my dilemma about switching to Mac on Facebook. Within only few hours, I had 29 comments. Passionate comments. People were arguing and kept returning to see what the others replied. Last week, I posted that I was stuck at home with swine flu. Comments? 0. Zero. Welcome to the world of virtual friendships.

There is one slight problem with virtual friendships. No, three slight problems. Or more... One: We are spending more and more time in social networks. Meaning wasting time we could be spending in the real world, and also wasting money. CNN estimates costs of $2.2 billion a year due to the loss of productivity caused by time spent on networking sites. Problem number two: we are getting seduced by virtual friendships, maybe even allowing them to weaken the importance of the real friendships. What I learned with my post on having swine-flu is what sociologists are calling the phenomenon of “weak links”. We think we have 388 friends who are sharing our lives. We don’t. We have 388 virtual pan-pals who are only here when they want it. “Strong link” is my neighbour Markus. He fed me through closed door (yes, like you would feed a beast) while I was ill.

And what struck me most is that the social networks are strongly changing the way we begin romancing (and eventually end up having sex), which has a huge impact how we view and present our lives. Last two guys I met (yes, I admit, they were [much] younger than me) asked me for my Facebook contact. Phone numbers, even e-mail addresses, are passé. Hello, this is a revolution in our dating pattern! We used to get in touch so that we could get to know the person and see if we like him/her. Now, everything is upside down –we first get to know (the virtual) person, then we decide if we like him/her – and then we get in touch, or don’t. We are making decisions based on the ones-and-zeroes identity of the person. Dangerous. Because in the virtual world, what is missing is… yes, the real thing. Everyone is more or less same, and everyone can create the identity they chose to (do you really think I look like my Facebook pic?). We start thinking of our lives in terms of how presentable they are online.  How alienating is that?

I don’t know. I just know I’m cutting this thing to a minimum. I have already trained myself to only log on once a day. And I’ve introduced Facebook-free days. Mostly I combine them with news-free days. They are fantastic – suddenly life seems so easy and uncomplicated! You only have to remove the rubbish of other people’s destinies… Sorry, we’re just too many.

Without Models

Here is a big applause for Brigitte, Germany's most read women's magazine! From 2010, they are banning models from their pages - all editorials will we done with normal (I would rather say "average") women. This is a fantastic step in the direction of  boycotting the artificially created image of the impossible beauty perfection which so strongly destroys not only women's self-esteem but also men's criteria.

Now, if they would also ban Photoshop, the job would really be done. I hope more magazines (and also the advertising world) are to follow. Let's start liking the natural (and possible) us.

For more information go to: Bigitte

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