My daughter forwarded me this Halloween clip that blew up across social media today. Click the link on the photo and make sure to turn up the sound as you watch..
A quick bit of Googling revealed that the man who posts on Instagram as @Shauhindavari is Shaw Duvari, a professor at Orange Coast College in Newport Beach where he teaches public speaking. He also coaches the OCCSpeech, Debate, and Theater team, which he drolly describes as “incredibly successful.”
A quick scan of his posts show his typical viewcount averages in the low hundreds, but something about this one struck a nerve. He’s already eclipsed 20,000 views due in no small part to a share from Barstool Sports.
No, he might never match the viral success of this oh-so-relatable post. But today, Shaw wins the internet. Good on you guy.
I’ll admit. I’m a sucker for happy endings. I love those viral clips that demonstrate human kindness and thoughtfulness writ large. Nothing is as contagious as uncontrollable laughter.
Still, it’s easy to feel bummed out these days, particularly if you use social media. Most recognize how Facebook gamed our feeds to garner more attention, and in the process fiercely stoked polarization to the detriment of our democracy. It’s depressing to see how quickly even benign social media comments get weaponized into political spew. And political debate on the nightly news rarely elevates beyond schoolyard name-calling. Given this news environment, it’s only natural to consider our society as little more than a tumble of feral, clawing tomcats in a bag.
And then, right at the moment when hope fades, along comes a day-brightening bit of undeniable evidence proving the exact opposite.
Of the 3,019 emojis in the Unicode Standard version 12.0. the top two used are Face with Tears of Joy and Heart: 😂 and ❤️.
Those are the two symbols we reach for more than any other: emojis symbolizing happiness and love. Those are the emotions we express the most. And yes, I consider that very good news indeed.
I realize emoji choices aren’t long on anger or division, but don’t harsh my mellow here. I like that we have a language predicated on love and support for each other.
Admittedly, I don’t use emoji myself. I have nothing against them and will frequently type “heart” or “thumbs up” but I prefer the written word. No judgment, just preference. And I won’t deny that strings of these colorful hieroglyphics brighten up many an Instagram response.
First the bad news–this statistic: 85 > 3,000,000,000
What that means is the world’s 85 richest individuals hold the net wealth equivalent of 3 billion people, or over half the world’s population. That is staggering. Somewhere Robin Hood must be rolling over in his grave.
But this week’s Oxfam briefing paper is it’s not all lousy news. While wealth inequity is definitely on the rise, and most of all here in the United States as the middle class continues to get hollowed out, there is a small glimmer of good news in the fact that global poverty reduction is also on the rise. Since 1970, the global poverty rate has dropped by 80%.
Read more here. And maybe it’s time we really start talking about balancing the US tax code.
On Tuesday, New York Times Op-Ed writer Joe Nocera wrote a fascinating article about Jaron Lanier’s recent book “Who Owns the Future?” Within the review, Nocera cites Laneir’s harrowing perspective on how the new digitally-centric economy ultimately decimates the middle class. A simple comparison between Kodak and Instagram blew away Nocera. And then me. And probably you, in turn…
“At its height, Kodak employed more than 140,000 people…When Instagram was sold to Facebook for a billion dollars in 2012, it employed only 13 people…Instagram isn’t worth a billion dollars just because those 13 employees are extraordinary…Instead, its value comes from the millions of users who contribute to the network without being paid for it…Networks need a great number of people to participate in them to generate significant value. But when they have them, only a small number of people get paid. This has the net effect of centralizing wealth and limiting overall economic growth.”
Collaborative networks hold such promise for intellectual and artistic advances; if Lanier is right, we need to innovate to add economic ones as well. Or better still, find ways for more people to return to that old fashioned idea of making stuff.