WEALFIES: Wealfies are selfies taken in a luxury context that confirm one has money, status and social currency. The paradigmatic wealfie is the image you take of yourself getting on or off a private jet, possibly on your way to New Year’s Eve in Morocco or Anguilla.
But to the extent that people so closely identify with the things that they buy and receive, the picture shot of the Hermès or Chanel or Prada gift “unboxed” and then posted on Instagram is another kind of wealfie. Of course, there are so many ways to broadcast status these days.
FANCY BRANDS WITH FANCY GIBBERISH NAMES: Eager to glaze their products with the sheen of international sophistication, many homegrown retail brands have hit upon a similar formula: Choose a non-Chinese name that gives the impression of being foreign. Some Chinese appear loath to spend their disposable income on locally produced fashions.
Chrisdien Deny, a retail chain with more than 500 locations across China, sells belts, shoes and clothing with an “Italian style” — and a logo with the same font as Christian Dior’s.
Helen Keller, named for the deaf-blind American humanitarian, offers trendy sunglasses and classic spectacles at over 80 stores, with the motto “you see the world, the world sees you.”
Frognie Zila, a clothing brand sold in 120 stores in China, boasts that its “international” selection is “one of the first choices of successful politicians and businessmen” and features pictures on its website of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Venetian canals.
Other apparel brands include Wanko, Hotwind, Scat, Orgee and Marisfrolg (the L is silent)and Biemlfdlkk.
FORTY-HOUR WORK WEEK: Western economies, particularly that of the United States, have been built in a very calculated manner on gratification, addiction, and unnecessary spending. We spend to cheer ourselves up, to reward ourselves, to celebrate, to fix problems, to elevate our status, and to alleviate boredom.
Can you imagine what would happen if all of America stopped buying so much unnecessary fluff that doesn’t add a lot of lasting value to our lives?
WHITE V. BLUE COLLAR: My perhaps naïve hope is that when I tell students I’m not only an academic, but a “survival” jobholder, I’ll make a dent in the artificial, inaccurate division society places between blue-collar work and “intelligent” work. We expect our teachers to teach us, not our servers, although in the current economy, these might be the same people.
MANSPREADING ON THE SUBWAY: The targets of the MTA campaign, those men who spread their legs wide, into a sort of V-shaped slouch, effectively occupying two, sometimes even three, seats are not hard to find. Whether they will heed the new ads is another question.
Now passengers who consider such inelegant male posture as infringing on their sensibilities — not to mention their share of subway space — have a new ally: the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
INSTANT TRANSLATOR: Skype is launching a translator that provides automated, nearly simultaneous translation between Spanish and English during video calls. Basically, you just have your conversation as normal and the program will convert your words between languages automatically. You also get a written transcript of your conversation as you go.
To show off the tool, Skype set up a game between two elementary school classes: one in Tacoma, Wash. and one in Mexico City. The two groups had to figure out, Twenty Questions-style, where the other classroom of kids lived.
HOLIDAY HITS STUCK IN MID-CENTURY: There hasn’t been an enduring holiday song released in the 20 years since Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” (1994). Most lyricists of classic Christmas songs are dead. “Christmas in Hollis” was originally released in 1987, during a 10-year span that produced two other classics, Wham’s “Last Christmas” (1984) and Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You”.
No one, not even such superstars as Taylor Swift, Coldplay or Beyoncé, has managed to turn a temporary seasonal hit into an evergreen since Carey’s tune. Some recent songs that showed promise, like Faith Hill’s “Where Are You Christmas?” or Justin Bieber’s “Mistletoe,” couldn’t survive their singers’ waning popularity. Others, like Christian group NewSong’s tearjerker-turned-novel-turned-TV-movie “The Christmas Shoes,” flamed out early.
Krampus in Munich (Gordon Welters, NYTIMES)
KRAMPUS: Long before parents relied on the powers of Santa Claus to monitor their children’s behavior, their counterparts in Alpine villages called on a shaggy-furred, horned creature with a fistful of bound twigs to send the message that they had better watch out.
Besides visiting homes with St. Nicholas, the Krampus has for centuries run through village and town centers spreading pre-Christmas fear and chasing away evil spirits. That tradition dwindled across much of Bavaria during the 1960s and ’70s, as postmodern society moved away from its rural past.
VACATION BRAGGING: Had an amazing experience that no one else has had before? Better keep it to yourself. Post-event social encounters are built on commonality. People are more likely to enjoy talking about an ordinary experience they have all had rather than hearing about the fabulous one they didn’t. So sharing the details of your singular experience in a social setting can indeed backfire, leading to feelings of being excluded.
FAKE LOCATION – CHEAPER FLIGHTS: Flights are cheaper when bought from a certain location. For example, use Google ITA to buy a flight from Bogota to Cartagena and save $75. Same with routes from Santiago to Easter Island when bought in “Santiago” instead of New York City.