Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

I have been pondering on how some often overlooked relational cues in social interactions may have been influential in building character in this image-driven world. I have identified three of these cues but this post will focus on one of them, which is: 'sarcasm'. Watchout for the last two.


I was forced to transcend into peoples' minds at a recent gathering, with a devoted sense intentionality, in the bid to catch the jokes the audience seemed to dismally fail at getting over. Alas! the majority of the jokes eluded me, though I giggled at a few. Here is my point: there seems to be a growing struggle to communicate without having to intermittently introduce often sarcastic humour in order to drive engagement and get buy in. Well, everything is not supposed to be funny! 


The task of reflecting on 'sarcasm' as a topical and rather influential relational cue can be rewarding as it helps to deepen understanding of prevailing thresholds of sincerity and integrity as well as the priority accorded to effective communication over loyalty, or perhaps social licensing.


Thinking aloud, there must be a link between dwindling economic conditions, turbulent market fluctuations and political instability, unrests as well as natural disasters etc. and increasing 'sense of sarcasm'. There could also be a connection between this growing relational attribute and the upsurge of social media interactions and its role in reinforcing cultural exchange. All of these may have influenced the use of sarcasm, perhaps as a coping mechanism for dealing with these issues.


Patterns of the unconscious use of memes and emoticons particularly make a case. For example, I wonder what culture is imbibed when fingers convey ecstasy through smiley faces or teary eyes on social media while facial expressions and  gestures say the opposite. How sustainable is laughter if it can evoke momentary and/or relative happiness, or perhaps disguised happiness in the absence of inner resolution and closure. This increasing culture of sarcasm appears to have been normalised, although many manipulate the blurred line between sarcasm and satire in the name of 'constructive criticism'.


This culture has sadly been infused in supposedly 'solemn gatherings' whereas 'filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting which are not fitting' are not expected in such gatherings.

Not surprisingly, there are many quotes and old wives' tales which support, but inspire deep thoughts on the notion of laughter:

"Nothing shows a man’s character more than what he laughs at."
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Laughter is timeless. Imagination has no age. And dreams are forever."~ Walt Disney

 and lastly,

"Laughter is the best medicine but if you laugh for no reason, you need medicine." ~ Anonymous 


While these quotes lend themselves to diverse interpretations, especially the last one, I am forced to agree with Jonathan Coyle, an American actor and influencer who argued that the momentary pleasure that laughter generates can be deceptive (paraphrased). 


My resonance with Coyle's argument might seem unfounded especially in the wake of the just concluded machine-learning sentiment analysis of the SA #Happiness Index, which showed an unexpectedly increasing trend in the rate of 'happiness'. 


Professor Talita Greyling, a researcher in the field of wellbeing and development economics at the University of Johannesburg confirmed during a talk show on SA FM this morning (29/10/19) that 40,000 - 50,000 tweets where analysed everyday, during the 'week of turmoil' (October 21 - 27). The week of 21 October was the week in which prominent members of parliament resigned from the Democratic Alliance (DA), a political party in South Africa. It was also the week in which the #Springboks won the match against #Wales in the semi-finals to secure a place in the World Cup Rugby final. Greyling reiterated that while the outcome of the study is not void of limitations and biases, it could inform policy development on the general state of wellbeing. 


I find the finding of this study rather ironical given increasing suicide rates and the low ranking of African countries in the #WorldHappinessReport. Based on a recent report published by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network and a CNN report released in March 2019, seven African countries where on the list of the world's ten least happiest countries, after Haiti, Syria and Afghanistan in the 2019 World Happiness Report. Sadly, no African country made the top ten happiest country ranking. 


The foregoing commentary confirms that happiness is relative, which as a consequence also implies that there is a huge responsibility on recipients of humour (especially in the African context) to intrinsically observe patterns of vulnerability to humour and the tendency to superficially dismiss pain/anguish/confusion /despair with laughter. There are also imminent lessons for character building with specific implications for corporate communication professionals and advertising agencies as consumer affinity with humour-based content can be short-lived.  I propose that increasing awareness of the superficial and manipulative nature of humour in marketing strategy could trigger negative reactions to brand perception, product quality, customer satisfaction and ultimately corporate reputation. 


Could many be guilty until proven innocent?




Signed:


Yours,


Abosede Ijabadeniyi 




Satire works best when the satarist has the courage not just to go for the joke 


~ Gladwell Malcolm





Monday, 16 September 2019

The Paradox of Civilisation

There is no better time to write this than within the first few hours of my return from a 10-day trip to two Schengen countries. You know you are in ‘Mzansi fo sho’ (The South) and Ekaya (home) when several African languages are passionately spoken with no one looking at you like some idol or deity. See, the pursuit of ‘greener pastures’ can take you away from home but you know deep down inside of you (especially if you live alone) that there is something missing in ‘Oyinboland’. There is that missing African umph!
Fair enough, you can admire the skyscrapers, canals and monuments in the heart of Amsterdam or perhaps enjoy the Portuguese culture across Barcelos/Porto/Lisbon and persistently question why our African leaders cannot replicate the infrastructure back home but, there is always that sense of ‘butness’, that out-of-place feeling/treatment you get outside Africa. I really can’t wait until tomorrow to get my dearly missed roasted corn from the heart of Berea in Durban. I am just unashamedly African.
The pride of Africa loses its worth when Africans don’t appreciate one another. Nevertheless, what we have in Africa is priceless. We might still be dealing with many teething problems, which seem to drive us apart and make us loose the sense of togetherness, nothing can change one's origin, regardless of conferred citizenship(s).


Deeply ingrained in human nature is an attachment to communal settings and comradeship, which also translates to the feeling you get at family-friendly restaurants. You are often asked: Table for 2? 3? or ... 6?, as the case be may. The question: Eat In or Takeaway? is usually not expected at such restaurants.


  Restaurant layouts and employee rapport often suggest positioning strategy and value proposition, explicating the not so obvious 'Ubuntu threshold'. For example, an entity/organisation is as good as what it intrinsically stands for, regardless of what is otherwise stated/manipulated in annual reports or portrayed in ads and wider marketing strategy.

The term Ubuntu is derived from the following phrase in isiZulu: “Umuntu ngu muntu nga bantu” which means: “A person is a person through other people” I define Ubuntu threshold as the extent to which moral consciousness can outlast cosmetic social licensing - soliciting for social acceptance for illegitimate purposes. The opposite of Ubuntu in the Yoruba moral system is 'Eniyan-keniyan', the antonym of the concept of 'Omoluabi'. In its literary form, Omoluabi is 'the child born to the master of character.' This value system does not only emphasise the importance accrued to the family system but also of the responsibility of the family to raise socially responsible citizens. In Yorubaland, a person called Omoluabi explicates virtue; is courageous, humble, sensitively shuns undue attention and praise, hardworking and respects the rights of others.
The global culture, as paraded in socialisation platforms, is subtly resocialising many, leading to the ‘McDonalisation’ of indigenous cultures. While George Ritzer's notion of McDonalisation relates to societal fast-food mentality, the term McDonalisation is used here as the act of carelessly and rapidly absorbing societal cues, without iterative screening for values-based compatibility. While this resocialisation process is gaining momentum and has turned many would-be Ubuntu/Omoluabi patriots into 'radical individualists', I encourage us to appreciate Africa.
We should also take pride in welcoming our fellow Africans and non-African tourists warmly into our continent, this is what we have, let’s value our heritage.


Thursday, 27 June 2019

Staying Fashionable and Kicking off the Cold for Less

Winter is very much upon us in South Africa. Hope you got the flu vaccine early enough? The erratic weather, especially the #DurbanWeather is taking its toll on many, through the flu and its associated cousins such as cough, sorethroat, tiredness, lightheadedness, basically being - #sick

Staying fashionable can be the last thing on your mind if and when you are dealing with the flu and its family. You sure need some #WinterWarmers

Five thriving tips for staying healthy this season:


1. Your hand sanitiser should be your best friend now, use it as often as possible - follow your gut feelings.

2. Hot water bottles work like magic, especially for some of us who use heaters sparingly.

3. Head warmers are super cool, they keep the cold away, keep your hair neat and prevent your 'hair lotion/cream' from staining bed sheets and pillowcases!

4. I cannot overemphasise the value of warm socks and gowns - the latter being a proudly South African traditional winter outfit at home, since there are hardly in-built heaters in most homes.

5. Do you really have to use your hands to open and close communal doors, especially toilet doors and taps? Put your elbows and knuckles to good use and tissue-laden hands, making sure those hands are properly washed and dried as often as possible.

Now that you are armed with tips on staying healthy, it is time to pull out your old winter accessories and be crafty about combining them with your newly acquired 'stuff' - you know what. You need not change your entire wardrobe to stay warm and fashionable. 

Be sure to invest in a few formal coats, scarfs and hats for the office-look and not your typical 'winter jerseys' which should be kept for informal evening/weekend gatherings.

Yours in sound health and mind - 3John2,

Abosede






Thursday, 16 May 2019

Coping Strategies for the 21st Century Mum




There is no better time for mums to resharpen their mothering skills than in the Mothering Month! 

Happy Mother's Month to all the gorgeous and fabulous mums and hope you were spoilt rotten on Sunday?

It appears the 21st century mum is one whom the school gives detailed explanation of the curriculum and expectations and then expected to shoot for the moon. You are expected to practically teach and guide your child based on homework and other deliverables from school. You then wait until the end of the term/year, as the case may be, to get 'your' report; evaluation of how hard you have worked! 

If you are a new mother, your guess is as good as mine - you will need a lot of preparation. So gear yourself up. If you are like me who didn't  like drawing at school, you might as well start falling in love with artwork now. Those skills will especially be handy in Grade R.

A lot more is expected from parents these days, it will take a lot of intentionality to avoid burnout. Be sure to take those much needed power naps (10-15 minutes) in between assisting your child with homework and making supper, if you are a light sleeper. This might be a good time to give your little one a break, you don't want to bombard them with too much work either, else they won't look forward to doing their homework. Most importantly, your dedication to 'me-times' and hangouts will keep stress levels down and help maintain a peaceful atmosphere at home. 

Visit Mum's Mail and Parents24.com for useful mothering tips in and around South Africa. 

Also see Parenting Toolkit for parenting advice across the globe. 

Lest I forget, you will need early preparation for sports, explore Child Development and Parenting Skills.

This piece of advice here - from a 21st century Principal, will equally be helpful.

Visit the learning community, it is definitely worth checking out too.

Keep head above water! #KeepGoing #StayStrong

Above all, you can never go wrong with #Prayers in the #WarRoom


Image result for for all the bums you have wiped, happy mother month

Monday, 6 May 2019

The Cost of Social Change

Social scientists are often caught in a web of intentionally influencing or changing perspectives to address underlying social problems. Ad hoc change in belief systems does not necessarily translate to a change in a problem. Efforts targeted at intentionally altering belief systems can be cosmetic and tend to produce momentary results which may look good on reports but too short-lived to make significant impacts which contribute to sustainable development. The will to change therefore rests in the hands of change agents or organisational members who possess power and agency to surrender their will to the mechanisms of social change. I foresee a very near future where social scientists devote substantial efforts on unstructured social learning for social change.   

Reflexivity is one of such mechanisms which will not only promote well-being and livelihoods but also lay a solid foundation for incorporating the sustainability agenda into core organisational practices and ethos. Reflexivity demands that agents be intuitive and critical of own way of thinking and ways through which thinking evolves into practices. What we consistently do is a reflection of our thoughts. How much power do we accord our thoughts to transcend into the very finite details of what we do? There is need to consistently resist thoughts which perpetuate despair and jeopardise peace and safety.  

Another mechanism is the willpower to relinquish self-interest for the social good. The human mind is naturally selfish. Intentionality is one the mantras of change agents. Show me a man who has the power to deny himself of 'pleasures' for the social good and I will show you a Protagonist. What is your threshold of sacrificial living? How much of what you do saves you time and money but negatively impacts your community and society? There is need for a system which puts practices in checks and balances. This brings me to my last and most important point: Lifelong-learning.

Every master thinks like a beginner. A change agent is one whose purpose is centred on lifelong-learning. The learning cycle can be very eventful but liberating. We often learn in tiny bits and pieces which later make a whole. Lifelong-learners often learn so little at a time and are tremendously amazed how wrong they have been for so many years. The learning process gets more intense with consistent drive for knowledge, which if combined with reflexivity, will be a key cornerstone for promoting social change and transformative learning.

This is a call to action, a call to amplify:
#Sustainabilityagenda 
#Sustainabilityeducation 
#corporatesocialresponsibility 
#CSR
#Socialchange
#Sustainableliving
#Sustainabledevelopmentgoals





Abosede Ijabadeniyi (PhD)

Researcher: Consumer Insights and Value Proposition




Monday, 29 April 2019

Fire and Gasoline; Performance and Passion

It's been such a while since I came here. I have been on an adventurous and somewhat rocky path of my career, one which I never envisaged in decades to come. Napoleon Hill once said - "Do not wait, the time will never be just right" Are you always drawn back and not bold enough to take giant steps in fear of failure? Well, I hope you are ready for this: Failure is one of the signs you are making progress! 

Failure is one of the indicators of progress. Every master thinks like a beginner, it is only those who thirst and hunger for growth that fail and rise up stronger and better - and determine never to act in the same ways which resulted in past failures. While this analogy can be paradoxical, you can be very sure that your progress is hidden in your struggles and pain. 

No amount of money or temporary gratification should be worth giving up on your dreams. How much did they pay you to give up on you dreams? Are you camping where you were meant to pass through? Let your inner soul come alive. Do what makes you tick and keeps you up late at night, and not the mundane tasks - a.k.a. on the go 'sleeping medication' which spontaneously dissolves into your system and kills your spark and umph (and I say the last word tightly pinching my thumb and index finger, toward the sky).

Let gasoline set alight the fire in your soul. Performance is fire, passion is gasoline. Performance is what you do to pay your bills, passion is what gives you joy and fulfilment for the rest of your life. Passion is what you can do without getting paid for and still continue to pursue it billion times over. Oh what a great outcome you would get if what you do to pay your bills is what you are passionate about. I hope gasoline meet your fire, or as the case may be: fire meet your gasoline?




Image result for fire meets gasoline








"Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive" Howard Thurman






Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Pause and Play

I recently got to know about a hotel called Pause and Play, located in a small and quiet city called Chiang Mai in Thailand. The positioning strategy of this hotel is clear, the name says it all! Names can convey strength and purpose. In the same manner, we can establish that a woman is derived from a man, taking a cue from the biblical connotation of the prefix "wo" in wo-man.  Since seeds regenerate, women have unique multitasking capabilities which often take a toll on them.
 
The number of women with multiple roles and responsibilities, such as mother, wife and career/business woman is on the rise. It can be tough to balance the demands of life; a job, children, family, friends and still carve out a “me time” to recharge and re-energise.  Putting others first places an enormous amount of pressure on women.
Join Total Woman, South Africa in celebrating women's month as we run a 2-day webinar on:
 
Day 1: Well-being - financial, physical and emotional

Day 2: Balancing multiple roles - being a mother, wife and career/business woman
 

Date: 18 & 19 August 2018

Time: 7pm – 8pm South Africa time (6pm – 7pm UK time)

Webinar Platform - Zoom connection link:
https://zoom.us/j/983413764
 



Abosede Ijabadeniyi
 
An Independent Content Marketer and Freelance Researcher