This week the Written & Recorded team got a bit emotional and has discovered content that is likely to tug at your heart-strings, or at least give your feelings a work-out.
What we’re learning: something to listen to
Ever heard of emotional labour? It’s the equivalent of killer squats at the gym – only it’s done with the mind – and the reps seem never ending. The correct definition of the term is ‘managing your feelings and expressions to fulfil the emotional requirements of a job’. In a nutshell it means often faking your emotions at work and it can be detrimental to your health. People working in call centres and service industries are usually hit hard with this burden. And more than most, these individuals are vulnerable as they are more likely to deal with difficult customers and clients. The effort it takes to keep a professional game face – smiling through gritted teeth – comes from notions like, “the customer is always right.” But are they really, and says who? I was especially conscious of this fact when having to make a difficult customer service call this week. The podcast WorkLife with Adam Grant dedicates an entire episode to the heavy lifting emotional labour entails. It includes thoughts on how acting every day can take an emotional toll on us, with insight from two-time Oscar nominee John Lithgow who recently brought to life former British PM and larger-than-life historical figure Sir Winston Churchill in the acclaimed series ‘The Crown’. Listen and learn.
What’s making an impact: something to read
“I never got any help, any kind of therapy. I never told anyone,” writes Junot Diaz in The New Yorker, and with those words we’re swiftly pulled into reading his intimate legacy of a childhood trauma. The story is raw – Diaz’s emotions are palpable. But while charting his suffering from sexual abuse, he somehow manages to create a poignant narrative that avoids the disturbing details of the abuse itself. The account is more about the man and the mask – the mask he wears to protect himself – and the efforts he goes to in order to keep the truth from spilling out. But it’s a long and hard journey towards the realisation that his “silence will not protect” him. Meanwhile, he’s left a trail of destruction of his own – in the form of broken hearts. This is the sorry tale of a boy who was raped when he was just 8 years old and how stripping away his innocence led to a life of being on the run – mentally that is. It’s compelling reading.
What’s leaving an imprint: something to watch
Greta Garbo, and Monroe, Dietrich and DiMaggio all had it according to Madonna – ‘they had style, they had grace.’ But it’s not just the stars who get to strike a pose these days, with selfie stylings there really is ‘nothing to it’, right? Except if you are an Iranian woman with a strict dress code and want to avoid clashes with religious authorities. Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iranian women have had to adhere to austere measures that require them to cover their hair, neck and arms in public. Overnight they had taken away from them the right to express their individuality through the clothes they wear. Iran went from fashion forward to fashion faded in the blink of an eye – and with that, rolling back five decades of progress in women’s rights. In Cut Video’s third instalment of its ‘100 Years of Beauty’ series, a model transforms over one minute to reflect the changing fashion trends in Iran over the last 100 years. The clothes we wear often speaks volumes about us – fashion without a doubt shapes our identity. And there have been plenty of studies on how psychology determines our clothing choices and how our clothes can affect our emotional state. The good news is Iranian women today are ‘subversively working within the rules to express themselves in bold new ways.’
What’s connecting us to community: something to listen to
Shelf Life is a fascinating community story project from the USA that aims to preserve the history and the voices of the Central District, the only Seattle neighbourhood where African-Americans were allowed to own or rent property. Against the backdrop of gentrification and new influences this project brings to life the emotional connection that the residents have to their sense of place. We hear stories of individuals like 82-year-old Mark Cook, who founded the Black Panther Party inside the Washington State Penitentiary; worked on the underground prison newspaper, The Bomb; and later joined the George Jackson Brigade. And Leon Carter recounts turning 21 in Seattle, 51 years ago. For more inspirational stories like this, check out last week’s Top Five.
What’s giving us insight: something to read
Ever wondered what the books you read say about you? Perhaps you’re a closet romance reader of Mills and Boon or a sci-fi nerd. In public though you’re more likely to profess to reading classics from Kafka or Dostoevsky or modern writers like Anna Funder, Margaret Atwood, Tim Winton or Elif Shafak. If you haven’t given it much thought, take a look at your book-shelf and see what genres you’ve amassed – it could hold an important key to who you are as an emotional being. Oscar Wilde once said, “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines who you will be when you can’t help it” and there’s been plenty written about the correlation between book and character. Book reading is a solo act that speaks to our deepest emotions – it’s an opportunity to block out the external stimuli and delve deep into an imaginative space. This is why the Independent’s Alex Johnson’s weekly book list is so titillating. It was born out of the idea of creating a ‘Manual for Civilization’ in the event of a catastrophe. As part of this it examines a unique collection of titles belonging to some of the world’s famous and infamous personalities. The list cracks open a window into the real person behind the public persona and gives us a mere hint and a glimpse of their passions through their choice of tome. In the latest edition we get to peek into the reading list of influential English musician Brian Eno, the man who started his musical journey as the synthesiser player in Roxy Music. His choices are weighty with titles like. ‘The Face of Battle’ by John Keegan and ‘The Mind in the Cave: Consciousness and the Origins of Art’ by David Lewis-Williams. Eno has chosen substance over fluff in the face of an apocalypse. This series is intriguing – you can even read what was on the bookshelf of Osama bin Laden.
Beyond Five: it’s too emotional to ignore
If you’re a lover of the flaky pastry the croissant, prepare for your emotions to be assaulted – someone who’s clearly lost their mind has created the charcoal activated vegan croissant. This lump of coal lookalike is making the rounds in East London and right now we think it’s putting the 2014 activated almonds furore and twitter frenzy created by Pete Evans to shame #charcoalcroissantgate