SPEAKING IN A DEAD DIALECT: Growing up, I could feel the language of my parents wither and die like autumn leaves. They had immigrated to the United States from Calabria in the late 1950s and continued to speak the dialect of their poor southern Italian region, but it was a tongue frozen in time by exile and filled with words that no longer existed in their homeland.
He had only Calabrian words for the plants, procedures and tools. Each of his children had attained some form of higher education and, with it, freedom from the strife and poverty that had chased him from Italy. We now found his background primitive and remote.
I had so much to tell him but no way to say it, a reflection of our relationship during his lifetime. Without his words, I was losing a way to describe the world. Memories suddenly mattered more than ever before, and I didn’t know if I could find the language to keep them alive. Perhaps this Calabrian I now speak with my father is the truly dead dialect, the language that neither changes nor translates.
Social Media Dating (Lou Beach)
SOCIAL MEDIA DATING: 15% had used social media to ask someone out on a date. “Getting to know someone through social media could be much more appealing than using traditional dating sites because it was possible to get a more realistic impression of a person. While profiles on dating sites are often carefully contrived, people tend to let more of their individuality and personalities come through casual interactions on Twitter and Instagram.”
ARE YOU DESIRABLE? The old axiom says beauty is in the eye of the beholder. When it comes to initial impressions, this statement is not really true: Consensus about desirable qualities creates a gulf between the haves and have-nots. But the truth of this maxim increases over time: As people get to know each other, decreasing consensus and increasing uniqueness give everyone a fighting chance.
So if you do not have a high mate value, take heart. All you need is for others to have the patience to get to know you, and a more level playing field should follow.
Desire (Olimpia Zagnoli, NYTimes)
FAKE CULTURAL LITERACY: What we all feel now is the constant pressure to know enough, at all times, lest we be revealed as culturally illiterate. So that we can survive an elevator pitch, a business meeting, a visit to the office kitchenette, a cocktail party, so that we can post, tweet, chat, comment, text as if we have seen, read, watched, listened.
What matters to us, awash in petabytes of data, is not necessarily having actually consumed this content firsthand but simply knowing that it exists — and having a position on it, being able to engage in the chatter about it.
We come perilously close to performing a pastiche of knowledgeability that is really a new model of know-nothingness.
Whenever anyone, anywhere, mentions anything, we must pretend to know about it. Data has become our currency.
Because we spend so much time staring at our phones and screens, texting and tweeting about how busy we are, we no longer have the time to consume any primary material. We rely instead on the casual observations of our “friends” or the people we “follow” or, well, who, actually?
The lesson was not to immerse and get lost in the actual cultural document itself but to mine it for any valuable ore and minerals — data, factoids, what you need to know — and then trade them on the open market.
You Had Me at Hello: trustworthiness, aggressiveness, confidence, dominance and warmth. In less than a second, the time it takes to say “hello,” we make a snap judgment about someone’s personality.
The pitch of the untrustworthy voice was much lower than the male deemed most trustworthy. McAleer says this is probably because a higher pitched male voice is closer to the natural pitch of a female, making the men sound less aggressive and friendlier than the lower male voices.
All seem to perceive that one voice is the most trustworthy and another voice is the least trustworthy
Humans make split-second judgments about others based on the way they talk. (Katherine Streeter, NPR)
SLEEP CULTURE: This obsession with eight hours of continuous sleep is largely a creation of the electrified age. Back when night fell for, on average, half of each 24 hours, people slept in phases.
People fell asleep not long after dark for the “first sleep.” Then they awoke, somnolent but not asleep, often around midnight, when for a few hours they talked, read, prayed, had sex, brewed beer or burgled. Then they went back to sleep for a shorter period.
There is every reason to believe that segmented sleep, such as many wild animals exhibit, had long been the natural pattern of our slumber before the modern age, with a provenance as old as humankind.
Fairytale Romance and Wedding? At Paris Wedding Center, a company with three locations in the Chinatowns of Manhattan and Flushing, Queens, the lines between reality and fairy tale are blurred. Not only are photos and videos often taken months before the ceremony, they also don’t necessarily document actual events.
Instead, couples visit studios crammed with costumes and props, sets and backdrops — some traditionally Western, others straight out of Chinese folklore — and act out romantic fantasies in what has become a trend for Chinese newlyweds in New York, just as it is in China.
10-minute mail: For those times you need a throwaway email address (like getting two more free weeks of Hulu Plus). The email address will enable you to get confirmation then self destruct in 10 minutes.
Camel Camel Camel: Shows you the price history of anything on Amazon and alerts you when the price drops. You can even upload your entire Amazon wish list directly. T
Account Killer: Shows you exactly how to close any social media account forever, not just disable them.
Skyscanner: Lets you search flights by date, price, and budget — even if you don’t know where you want to go.
Costs for Americans (Larry Buchanan & Alicia Parlapiano, Bureau of Labor Statistics)
MORE $$$ TO BE IN PERSON: Impact of technology on society: In a world rich in digital information, physical contact, and the personal trust and relationship that still comes by spending time with someone, has become even more valuable, since it is harder to come by. Increasingly, the most valuable things in our world involve people looking at you, touching you and understanding you.
The digital elite pay money to be in contact with one another, when they could just watch the whole thing on the web. The greatest example of this, of attracting billionaires to be near one another in somewhat cramped conditions, is the annual TED conference. It’s a bunch of talks and schmoozing. It costs $8,500 to attend, if they’ll have you. You can watch it online in real time.
Or take music. A century ago, an Enrico Caruso record retailed for about $30 in 2014 dollars; now you can listen to it free on YouTube. Currently, tickets to see Bruce Springsteen live, whose music is available for anywhere from 99 cents to nothing on the web, cost up to $1,800 on StubHub.
We’re moving towards a ‘post-automated’ world, where the valuable thing about people will be their emotional content.