Is Kobe the right person to give you life lessons?

A couple of days ago, former-basketball star (but not only) Kobe Bryant died tragically in a heli crash.

I’m not a fan of that sport, nor do I have any particular reason to remember Bryant fondly, except for the fact that he spoke an amazingly good Italian (he lived in the country during his childhood). I did like the idea of him, but for no particular reason.

In the last two days, all possible online platforms were flooded by messages remembering him (which I understand), “thoughts and prayers” (which I don’t and, quite frankly, I tend to judge internally a little bit) , and even quotes from Kobe. One stuck in my head: a beautiful pic of him, full figure, Lakers colours, beautiful as a marble statue from ancient Greece. A writing:

I don’t want to be the new MJ. I want to be Kobe.*

K B

*or something like that

Oh. OK. Wow that’s so deep, I’m sure no other athlete ever thought of it before. It’s got to be Professional Athletes 101, really. The person who shared this is a LinkedIn connection of mine, and shared a series of such quotes from KB in the same format. Aesthetically beautiful but quite, how can I put it…trivial? Trite? Predictable? Now, keep this in mind: I don’t mean to say KB was an idiot, not at all. What I think is KB was a basketball player.

I mean, to take life lessons from a basketball player, the guy’s gotta be something special. I take life lessons from smart men, and basketball lessons from basketball players, is all. What is the reason why people would even consider taking sport stars as points of reference in their life, besides learning how to bicycle kick a football, or glass-breaking dunks? For the same reason, I cannot for the life of me understand the success of sport masters autobiographic books. Now that I think about it, I did read a very good one: Andre Agassi’s. But all the rest I saw around were…I mean, they were not epiphanic sources of wisdom, let’s put it this way.

I think we tend to create an image of every person we meet, that stems from the automatic impression we create of them in our brains, normally in the first few seconds. If we find a person attractive, we will give them more credibility. Don’t say you don’t, cause we all do. I believe this, because I reckon my brain does the same: when I was a kid, football legend Pelé was my absolute idol. I thought, for no reason, he was a god among humans. Then I’ve heard him speak, and my BS-meter went through the roof. I don’t even remember the topic, I just remember me thinking “this cannot be someone to teach me how to live”. Before that interview, he was just that, for no good reason. Same happened the first time I read a news piece about Pantera’s Phil Anselmo’s personal ideas. Still like their music, but thanks no thanks as a life inspiration ewww. I guess we need to cling on to someone or something, an idea or a person to lead us? That’s got to be normal, I see it every day. Thinking about it, it’s the very same thing that happens when you cease being a child: you learn your parents are just people, and not Albert Einstein. Well actually, also Einstein might have been an asshole as well, what do you know?

So at the end of the day I think that it is always wrong to idealise (idolise) people: your favourite actor might be a jerk, which does not stop them from being an amazing actor, and should not stop you from liking them as an actor. But getting into Scientology because you like Cruise, that’s just going full stupid. By the way, I reckon this must have had a pretty strong influence on the development of my relationship with religion. Yeah it’s all on you, Pelé!

Soundtrack: Wanderlost by Dizzy Mystics

Getting used to happiness

There is one thing in my mind that I want to share today, and it’s got nothing to do with digital. It’s got to do with happiness, so I thought it might be worth sharing it because finding unhappy or angry people is as easy as just looking around me on the train to work. People complaining about their lives and their jobs and the world. A positive state of mind is not something you teach or learn, but maybe I can share some ideas to help someone else find their own way.

This is what’s going on with me: I’ve been positive about myself and my surroundings for as long as a decade or so; an uninteresting part of my journey, and while it’s the most important thing for me, it is absolutely irrelevant for you right now. In the last year, though, I lost this extreme positivity, for several reasons of which I am/was partly aware but, again, are not important to anyone else (I mean, any who might read this). In time I’ll learn more things about that period, which makes it an important part of my path. But here I’d like to focus on the period extending since, until today.

I’m having to do something I never considered before: learning to getting used to happiness.

After this negative period I needed to re-learn to just take the happiness that is being thrown in my general direction. I receive praises for my job, which I had lost the habit to. I am like “mmm I don’t trust them”, “there’s got to be something wrong”, “I should do better, why am I not better at this”. While this type of approach is necessary to constantly improve myself, I know I should use it as positive input in the pursuit of the good, and not to torment myself. Why not just think “yeah I’m good at this, I’m doing a good job and people like me”?

Why am I trying to voluntarily find something wrong with what I do, even though those around me are being absolutely nice and are not, in fact, deceiving me (and after all, why would they?). This, I reckon, I do as a spontaneous reflex due to not being used to receive praise for a job well done, have some free time for myself to write on my little blog or do whatever it is that I like, et cetera. Not receiving any positive recognition at all will lead you to think that you are doing nothing good, eventually. It takes some getting used to, accepting both one’s negatives, and one’s positives. I know I’ve got to accept and embrace both.

I always say that I like my flaws. This is only part of the whole thing though: I like and (try to) accept my flaws, as well as my strengths. Balance between the two is all that matters, really. For the same principle, one should nurture one’s strengths at all times: and of this I am certain, all humans have got amazing and unique strengths, and are capable of wonders.

So all in all what I want to say is: accept the positivity that’s thrown your way, for it is always there to take.

Soundtrack: Visions by Haken

Sites that should be secure, but are not

FYI, it’s 2020 (twentytwenty). These are some websites with no HTTPS, as of today. Why? Dunno. Madlads!? Senility!?

Apache.org seriously? smh

ansa.it, the number one Italian news outlet

Shopify (myshopify.com) oh come on you guys!!

MIT (web.mit.edu) something to do with old age I guess?

Italia.it is the OFFICIAL Italian Tourism Website (I mean, it’s not like tourism is important at all, for us)

Regione.campania.it and comune.napoli.it are the OFFICIAL sites of the administrative region Campania, and of the city of Naples. I will not link it here, but it’s easy to find illegally downloaded/downloadable PDFs of books, on the let me repeat it OFFICIAL Napoli site-for no reason I can think of. Brilliant. Well regione.lazio.it as well, and I could bet a quid or two on more official Italian websites not having the feature because, you know, Italians…

BTW, I reckon the .gov tld makes for some security by itself, but alaska.gov might want to try harder. Nevada and their nv.gov, as well as Wyoming (wyo.gov), make the list too.

I’ll update this, feel free to suggest more.

Soundtrack: Volition by Protest the Hero

(one of the many many possible) Recoils of spamming low quality

LinkedIn is the only Social Network that I actively use. I like it: I like it because its quality is relatively high, or at least better than the rest of the lot. One would expect some kind of professionalism on content shared there (yeah I know, I’m an incurable romantic).

One recent drop in style by many users got me thinking, and I might as well share it here. I’m talking about a specific type of content that’s been around a lot in the last couple of weeks: it existed before, but lately it got viral as a meme (better say, as a shitty disease). It normally features a picture, and the user is asked (in a playful way) to do something they wouldn’t do (liking a content-less post) by tricking them into mindless expectation of something that is not going to happen as a result of their click. First example that comes to mind: a picture of Christmas tree with lights turned off, and text to the effect of “double-click here to magically turn on the lights!”. If you do it, you’ll have been tricked into liking the post, and of course the lights will not turn on. Normally, the hi-lllla-rious prankster will also comment something like “I did trick you, but i was only being funny :)) !!1!”

Let’s leave aside how totally unfunny the thing is; let’s not consider that it goes against the rules of the platform; let’s skip all talks about professionalism.

I want to use this for some behavioural insight, if you’re interested. It also answers the question why some Social Networks (Instagram, Reddit, et cetera) are removing the number of likes underneath each post.

What I think is it’s easy for people to think they are receiving a positive reaction to this type of posts: what actually happens, instead, is they’ll see the likes, but not the dislikes. For example: if I recorded a burp of mine, and posted it on LinkedIn, I’d get a certain amount of likes. Let’s say 10. Wow, I got 10 likes by doing absolutely nothing! That was easy! What I am not seeing, is that it is possible that for each 10 likes I get, 11 people will be marking me as an idiot. I cannot see it, so it doesn’t exist. I am only aware of the 10 idiots like me who somehow found it funny/insightful (no-one knows why). But in reality, while thinking I am being smart, I am actually harming my image.

We only ever want to see positive feedback thrown our way, and tend to blindness on the negative.

Not only is this sad, but it’s also unavoidable: our brain lives for the appreciation of our peers! But sometimes it’d only take some thought to avoid behavioural misinterpretations.

Now, this is a plague that’s always been common on Facebook and other similar platforms, due to the general nature of their average user. But on a professional platform, people should know better. Should, but don’t: a clear indication that declaring oneself an expert of something is not equal to actually being one.

Soundtrack: Until all the ghosts are gone, Anekdoten