Gossip Girl: A decade later

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What could I say? It was definitely the best runway on your Plasma after Sex and the City ended. Furthermore, the show was a little bit more interesting while the main rule in the characters code was treason. Yes, treason. That word made the future of Serena Van der Woodsen (Blake Lively), Blair Waldorf (Leighton Meester), Chuck Bass (Ed Westwick), Nathaniel Archibald (Chace Crawford), Lonely Boy a.k.a Daniel Humphrey (Pen Badgley), and Jenny (Taylor Momsen), the meanest gang to go with around Manhattan.

The truth is this show inspired in people not only the desire of possession, as well as, having the best attires from the greatest minds in Fashion Design, with the only purpose of using them in the next soirée with their best friends or enemies. Undoubtedly, the show provoked even the desire of replicating the worst behaviour between teenagers, young adults and adults.

Maybe the fact of watching this bunch of kids doing illegal, irreverent and crazy things with parents taking care of the crazy damages caused a similar syndrome of overexposed our lives. Behaviour, which had been attracting the attention and a counter position from multiple specialists between Psychologist, Sociologist, Designers of online products, Marketers, Journalists, and Media experts, as well as, celebrities and Royals explaining why we should do less to show our personal lives online considering the value of a good balance between our real persona and the one we showed each day on social media.

The most important character in Gossip Girl: ENVY 

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“Envy…similar to jealousy. Discontent towards someone’s traits, status, abilities or rewards. The difference is the envious also desire the entity and cove it”.

Of course, the show did not play only with overexposure but also, with envy. The program follows the rules stipulated by Marx and the Capitalist form of production, and how it created a role for each group in that society so, the drama begins when Serena Van der Woodsen decided to return to recover her place in Manhattan and a younger wannabe Jenny Humphrey decided to be more than just Lonely boys’ younger sibling, the nickname his brother had won in a website dedicated to spill rumours about relevant teenagers enrolled in Manhattan’s private schools.

In that way the fight begins, Blair Waldorf had conquered the role of Queen Bee, which has been like her dream come true since kindergarten so, the presence of Serena, no matter how much she loves her will affect her place in the social and Academic scenario. In the other side, we find Jenny Humphrey, she is not rich, popular or deep. She has talent, poise, character, she is a good sister and daughter (at this point) but she wants a breakthrough in the social scene and, without the last name, which sounds like you are using your black credit card to pay for anything; or an extraordinary talent, it would be almost impossible to make it.

The only option for her being good in what she does, designing and creating beautiful dresses, and finding good friends (networking) to establish the best outcome for her wishes. She is good in the first field, in the second, she definitely sucks. She had no idea how to manipulate in the first three or four seasons. Meanwhile, Serena has everything and she really did not care about anything related to success. Giving an extra effort sounds like a valuable line for any sports team. For her, it is like just travelling to Europe to avoid contact with her friends, mistakes and troubles.

For that reason, even Blair Waldorf hates her, it sounds terrible but it is the origin of the best jokes you enjoyed during the show “A hippie millionaire and sex bomb being best friends with an overachiever, selfish heiress”. Blair is in that way because her mother put pressure on her to be obsessed with perfection, even if she needs to do things far from good or perfect to achieve that position, or the choice goes against her true feelings like it is common, for example: she almost died trying to decide who should she marry? Prince Louis from Monaco or Chuck Bass.

Often, the idea of searching for a most successful life while you spend most of the time comparing yourself and the things you have with people around you could be the worst alternative. It is not the only basic element to create chaos for you and others, but it increases the doubts inside each individual of any group. Suddenly, people start to feel the lack of value and congruence between what they do, love and care for; or doing anything else only for winning in a social and economic competition, where the most important value is having a stronger status and more money. Multiple times, Jenny, Blair’s mother, Serena’s mother, Dan should face selling their values for material compensation. Usually, you understand better the character and yourself while you think what path you would have followed.

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In that sense, being friends is one of the most difficult tasks. Of course, it is fun for the viewers but for the characters involved is only an endless and hopeless situation of backstabbing, blackmail, betrayal, which undoubtedly, ended in two simple words hate and distance. That was how the show begins, Blair cried in front of a helicopter while she was trying to explain why she couldn’t stay any longer in New York to her best friend. Meanwhile Serena Van der Woodsen, the scandals’ expert, who went to Connecticut because she was trying to clean her conscience after sleeping with Blair’s boyfriend, Nate, behind her back, tried to do the right thing and convince her to stay. Of course, all these behaviours shouldn’t or couldn’t be experienced without dressing the best clothes designed by PRADA, Louis Vuitton, Dolce&Gabbana, Chanel, Versace, Balmain, Carolina HerreraEllie Saab, Oscar de la Renta, Narciso Rodriguez, Alannah Hill, Toni Maticevski, Vera Wang, among others, which was for some viewers next to the sarcastic lines the most pleasant elements during the show.

Watching people being mean in high fashion is not only tolerable, it could entertain you. However, at the end this group discovered once and again that sometimes, they were the only one, who really cares about the other, that effect provoked they come back to each other like magnets each season because it is possible that only those who live and experience the same upbringing and environment as you could understand your feelings, your mindset, your behaviour, your mistakes, your fears and your choices.

Having parents with enough money to help you go out of messy situations after they paid for the damages caused by the lack of empathy or betrayal their dearest descendants are involved with. Why did they do it? It could be the regular question from everyone, who consider parents should do a better job. However, these parents look sometimes even more lonely and messy than their children. At some point, the most interesting dialogue I found during the show was between Nate and Blair. He was trying to understand his role and the expectations of his family on him, he found confusing his luck and having all these privileges he hadn’t ever asked for. Although, at the end, after trying to hide his lack of interest smoking weed or feeling uncomfortable for having a good life, he understood that there is no way to go out. If you were born an Archibald or a Waldorf, you only keep going with the structure your parents expected from you.

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Scary, of course, I am pretty sure nobody wants a life designed step by step from their birth until they die. Even if the rewards sound so excited as exploring all the experiences of your life through money, social status, pleasure, hedonism and selfishness. In part, I need to be honest, the funniest thing was finding the characters’ efforts to destroy the good behaviour of another character for pleasure or to destroy their social status. Such a lack of creativity!!! That was the real goal in the crazy lives of this group of friends. Georgina was going behind Serena; Blair was trying to do the same to Chuck; Jenny Humphrey is, perhaps, the biggest exception. She was the youngster and usually the character everyone tried to protect until she became the strongest and the worst considering the values previously mentioned.

To close the column, during six seasons I love the romance between Blair and Chuck, even when the majority of adults around me expressed something like “That is a toxic relation.” However, at the end, they changed, they grow up, they tried to do the best and not only for them, in that sense, perhaps for a TV show there was a good happy ending. Meanwhile, finding Serena was able to forgive Dan Humphrey after hurting her on purpose not once or twice but during ages, which sounds more like a S&M relation than a crazy passion. At least, Blair and Chuck knew perfectly how they were. Serena trusted in Dan since the beginning without imagining how much despair for her he got inside of him. I wasn’t glad she married Dan, I wanted she should have gone back with Nate but What can we do now? In the original books Nate run away to sail in a boat, leaving New York because he didn’t want to choose between the blonde or the brunette. Once and again, he is the real gentleman in shining armour but nobody married him. Senseless advertisement and advocacy for supporting the bad boys’ charming personality, or woman just love to date troublemakers. Open your eyes ladies, if you find a Nate Archibald, don’t let him go away so easily, especially, if you love him.

XOXO

crawford

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The risks of radical views

After media had been exposing different angles and stories after Europe faced ISIL threat in the last weeks. The fear inside communities with Muslim citizens was moved by the attacks. Some groups as Reclaim Australia and Pro-democracy started to expose the situation in their communities as a moment where Muslim communities could represent a threat for peaceful interactions inside different societies, where we can find many practitioners of this faith one more time as possible suspects. Undoubtedly, it is impossible to ignore the need of a safe space for developing interactions between different religious groups across the world, especially, when fear has been introduced through violent attacks perpetrated by religious extremists in Europe in the last weeks.

It is common to find voices, which should gain strength, to increase the comprehension and differences between Muslim and religious radicalism as well as tolerance of religious beliefs. In countries like Australia this would be easier, especially when they Legal system protect citizens’ rights to practice different religions. Extremists political positions used to affect the possibilities for Civil Society to increase the security, if we start to attack or discriminate some groups for their beliefs, it will only provoke that they need to search for attachment or support out of their main groups. Then, it is possible that they can start to feel fear of future threats from supporters of Radical Conservatism towards Muslim, which only increase the possibilities of violence, hostile attitudes and untrustworthy interactions. Provoking inner instability, when this could be one of the most relevant factors to confront uncivilized threat from external groups, you could name them Al-Qaeda, ISIL, or new lines of Muslim extremists terrorists.

In that sense, Governments, corporations, and social groups from different religions or political backgrounds are called to be pragmatic and wise about how they interact inside their communities. It is easy to let fear   dominate our lives confronting different groups inside small or big communities,  even when it is not right this type of reaction because this path only increase the opportunities for extremists to get inside any country and affect it. When citizens increase hostilities between them, it is more difficult for members of security departments to provide better control because their attention is diffuse in multiple confrontations at the same time. When they must apply that attention, sources and officers in offering more security to citizens from external or real threats.

No sunset after Paris attacks

I could not be more shocked after waking up last morning and seeing the terrorist attacks in Paris. It was overwhelming, particularly, when I was trying to figure out how a city, which represent a lot of culture and important values for humanity. Especially, in the sense of their philosophers interested in a different approach between classes after executing the most important people in Aristocracy in the times of the last infamous Louis XVI. Undoubtedly, a call against the excess from people in power. That representation of their character attracted more than once people from different countries, backgrounds and cultures. In my case, everything begun with The three musketeers, later different authors as Victor Hugo, Hemingway, Dickens, among others guided me in my youth years to discover more about that city. My feelings got confused when I was seeing on my screen more and more information of people running away or keeping captivated by a group of fanatics from ISIL. After all, I was planning a similar trip as one of the victims probably was doing at that time. I was choosing the places I had visited through pages, once and again, and suddenly those places were getting inside a malevolent plan created for a group searching a bloody purpose of spreading the most terrible and sad aspect from of human History, provoked by religious persecution. Even when ISIL actions  influenced from mistakes in International Politics, like American intervention in Iraq for searching mass destruction arms; or the uncontrollable situation in Syria provoking millions of citizens running away from their countries to avoid being killed. It is impossible to deny that this attitude has been mainly inspired by extreme religious principles, which are guiding a group supporting everything against the meaning of Western societies. Everything they made by what they see as well as a Political purpose, and glorious and meaningful actions from their future nation.

 Under these circumstances, this is the most scaring thing, I do not believe Western societies or others possessed at this moment a similar approach to the topic, particularly, when there is not interest to make them feel powerful by the sense that they could make this type of insane desire for making a prophecy a reality. However, the rational way of thinking from Western and civilized countries could not be enough for a group uninterested in peaceful share of relations between societies interested in promoting different values. In that sense, there would be a lot of work to do, with special attention for taking any measure to combat this type of extremism, especially, inside Cosmopolitan societies. If these people are really convinced of conquering what once belonged to their communities, Europe would not have peace soon. The real conflict is what Spinoza found as a regular conflict between groups who get connected with a particular vision from Faith, where God controls everything,  fanatics’ vision motivated and inspired by these thought, they are only trying to made what God expected from them, this is as Spinoza experienced in his time the most difficult aspect because societies interested in taking actions motivated by Rationalism would never be driven and obsessed by an ideology without thinking in the possibilities of future damage. In my opinion, it is not anymore about good guys or bad guys, we are confronting a return of medieval values, in that sense we are seeing a new group trying to end what their minds recognized like a new Rome. If it is the only thing they are trying to keep alive, I feel fear about how we could end when this group is trying to get power at any cost. They do not care how many citizens are killed while they can reach their purposes or establishing good relations with foreign powers.

What they understand is a literal vision of God’s rage against what represents a threat to their future Caliphate reign. The answer is not providing them with their purposes getting accomplished through Western political response, however, a passive action would not stop them, and in some sort of way this fear which influenced the actions and activities inside other systems is transforming and changing Western values. Societies are becoming more and more controlled and scared of different attitudes when they must face an external threat like this. How societies would be benefit by interactions between different actors and cultures in societies. And now the questions about who could be trusted inside Western societies and how will we recognize possible traitors, it is one of the scariest and at the same time the most important aspect after the craziness provoked by extremists in Paris. How are we going to avoid a witch hunt? Especially, when we know that is not truth that everyone is a radical in the practice of their faith. We are really ready to lose more liberty in our environments for groups interested in destroying the right of others for practicing different religious beliefs. Civil society should organize themselves to stop any possibility for groups like these overcome obstacles to destroy a different system. Media should support communities to avoid the increase of hate between different groups inside Western societies and Governments should improve their security system. What happened in Paris showed that technology is a new weapon for making terrorist attacks, especially, recognizing citizens who support ISIL actions in Western countries.Furthermore, there are more reasons to avoid changing who we are.

In this context, the purpose of understanding the value of different religions and the real meaning behind Faith could not be more relevant in Cosmopolitan societies, especially, when the interchange between members of different communities is usual. The comprehension about the meaning of God, at this time, should not endanger citizens lives. In every possible way of human comprehension a negative attitude towards others beliefs will threat a peaceful development of social relations of different groups. The extremists did not analyze God’s concept inspired to interpret the similar aspects of nature and God, which could be supported by Physics. The only perception they had about their role in God’s plan is doing a reality what the sacred pages of their books expressed. There is not analysis, it is what we understand as blind faith, they perceived themselves as makers of God’s will, which is, as History shows, one of the most strong aspects from faith for doing good or evil things. The questions related to who is taking responsibility about what is happening in Syria and countries from this zone is the main topic to solve the crisis. Without enough actions to control what is happening with terrorists groups in that zone, the opportunities to diminish the risks could fade from global leaders’ hands.

Even after a terrible attack, different countries, organizations, communities and groups inspired by the positive side of human beings were able to express their sadness, discomfort and sadness through the only possible way, exposing the values and support towards a society bleeding for an illogical way of manifest discomfort. There is no way to extinguish the positive aspect from any culture. Inspired by this feeling everyone exposed France’s colors in their cities. Undoubtedly, Eiffel Tower and Paris gave us a light, which could not be extinguish by a senseless radicalism from religious fanaticism.

I was trying to watch the sunset with a group of foreigners in Melbourne. That afternoon the sun was hidden beneath the clouds. I only could remind that God use to let the sun shines over good and evil people, yesterday, I thought even God feel mortified by Paris situation. The sun was not there and we only watched in silence while our minds probably cannot still process the lack of humanity in ISIL actions.

Lights installed at the MGC to show Victoria's support for the attacks in France. Rossana Naveda.
Lights installed at the MGC to show Victoria’s support for the attacks in France.

The Effects of Free Speech and Social Media

Using social media for expressing our support to particular ideas, promote our ways of thinking, sharing our thoughts about different issues has been transformed in our time in an action that required a previous analysis about the type of consequences we will confront in our personal and professional path. There has been many examples in different countries around the world about the negative effects on image from people who used different platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, among others to express their personal vision about policy-making, culture, effects of History in the participation of groups with different origins in social and political interactions. It is impossible to write about all of them here. However, the effects of these cases still make us think once and again about the risks and benefits of sharing all our beliefs and opinions in social media or similar platforms.

Pros and Cons of Social Media

In the last days, Donald Trump was in the middle of different articles after expressed negative opinions about Mexican migrants. Even though, he experienced a positive support from Republican voters after exposed his comments about these issues. Meanwhile in Australia, the effects of freedom of speech had not been so positive for reporters, Scott McIntyre decided to express her opinion about Anzac Day, which was not supported by Minister Malcolm Tumbull, broadcasting company’ s manager and the audience from SBS, when he expressed criticism against the “cultification [sic] of an imperialist invasion”. Afterwards, he expressed an ironic comment related to the execution and the rape did by “the brave Anzacs in Egypt, Palestine and Japan”. The outcome from this participation in social media provoked that SBS fired him because they determined that his expressions were against the broadcaster’s code of conduct and social media policy. Later, he decided to sue the company.

It would not possible to ignore there are different situations and professionals involved in similar cases, for example, Nir Rosen, a Law Fellow at New York University until he tweeted an insensitive message about Lara Logan’s sexual assault; Scott Bartosiewicz, shared a mean joke about Detroit and people’s ability to drive. What was his mistake? He did from his corporate account. Chrysler fired him and never renew its contract with New Media Strategies, the company he works for. Gabriella Pasqualotto was a cheerleader for cricket teams in the Indian Premier League until she decided to tweet about the bad manners of some cricketers against the cheerleaders. Afterwards, she was not able to support the team again. Throughout the analyze of this type of behavior, we are aware that sometimes we possess enough freedom to think some things but not necessarily it means our audience, our bosses or even our colleagues would find them respectful or sensitive towards social issues and how they would affect different people who, even when support freedom of speech, had expressed her lack of interest in undermining or criticizing conditions about human behavior. Especially, when it is about cultural heritage, women or racial issues or insulting someone or something without a previous contemplation of the effects in audience.

Sometimes, the broadcasting companies are specific about the type of behavior and expressions permitted in their staff’s accounts but we could not deny that we are not necessarily supporting all the measures and positions from our workplace, however, it does not mean that we should not respect our contracts and the limits they establish for our participation in social media. There would be possible to identify the presence of excessive emotion towards professionals topics, or users tend to focus about their feelings before they decide to share with their audience so when someone decide to write could forget about what others would feel about their expressions. Furthermore, it is common that we made mistakes when using social media. I have seen many cases of people writing to the wrong person before sending a message or e-mail, which is probably the worst type of error because you never had the intention to damage someone or something with your ideas.

I have never wrote too many tweets. Although, I have seen many obnoxious comments in different platforms. Perhaps, thinking about how others would think or how our relations with people who follow our accounts would be affected by the lack of awareness from other’s perception on different topics would be the best measure to avoid expressing things, which probably damaged others and ourselves when we do not think about how they would perceive our beliefs.

Protecting free speech in social media