Okay they’re not all clowns in the Top Five but as a coverall, the term does apply quite nicely. After all, there’s a new study into Trump’s election success, analysis of Finlands universal basic income, the spread of dangerous rumours through SMS and the destruction of work culture through IM. But the most important clown story reveals why we fear them so much. Oh and some guy’s decided to bury aeroplanes for art. Here’s your Top Five!
What’s making us raise our eyebrows: something to read
When Donald Trump became the leader of the world’s biggest superpower, the disbelief in the news organisation I worked for during that time was immense. And the journalists and content makers weren’t alone in feeling the shock – the sentiment was echoed through all walks of society – in every corner of the world. So, how had this orange-haired, unhinged man with no political credentials and plenty of questionable attributes risen through the ranks to get the top job? There were many, many theories bandied about, with the most prominent being that somehow this billionaire had managed to speak in a manner that connected and resonated with the most common people. The popular thinking was Trump had achieved what other politicians had failed to accomplish – he’d come down from his ivory tower and touched the hearts and minds of the most disadvantaged Americans. As implausible a theory as it was, most observers bought this explanation hook, line and sinker. Now though, a long way into Trump’s Presidency a new study has found that his voters were more likely “driven by a fear of losing status, not economic anxiety.”
What’s making us number crunch: something to read
A few weeks ago, when Greens leader Richard Di Natale suggested that Australia should introduce a universal basic income, the newsrooms went into overdrive. The idea that we should all be paid an unconditional monthly allowance turned commentators into boxers, ready to crush their disagreeable opponents. It’s safe to say not everyone was a fan of the idea, despite many economists indicating that it would go a long way to alleviating poverty and creating a safety net for those operating in a gig economy. The proposal was seen as absurd, likely to encourage laziness and cost the earth. So it’s not surprising that Australian’s will be looking closely to Finland, one of the first movers on this policy. Last year Finland began a trial for 2,000 people to each receive a $680 monthly allowance. The Finnish government recently announced that the results of the trial will be available by the end of 2019. So, we’ll have to wait over a year to find out whether or not such a policy is the answer to rising inequality. Watch this space.
What’s making us nervous: something to watch
If you’ve ever seen Mr Jelly (pictured above) pretending to be Mr Jolly in the British sitcom Psychoville, you’ll know it’s the stuff of nightmares. Clowns are scary, there’s just no disputing that fact. It’s beyond logic to think a bunch of mature adults accept clowns as a perfect choice for children’s entertainment. It really is baffling why these masked monsters would be considered amusing – unless of course the adults in question are amusing themselves and are intent on causing irreversible childhood trauma to some kid that they have secretly labelled a brat. Turns out we’re not alone in our anti-clown feelings, some people even go so far as to have a persistent and irrational fear of clowns and are seen to suffer from coulrophobia. If you want to get a better understanding of why people fear clowns, here’s an explainer from Business Insider. Be warned, the content features creepy clowns.
What’s educating us: something to read
Every day we receive news from all over the world with stories about people experiencing ethnic tensions and violence. Watching from afar we’ve witnessed people suffering in Palestine, Pakistan, Burma, Yemen, Syria – the list is long, awful and seemingly endless. And it’s through technology that we get to view this prevailing misery. But technology plays a bigger role too in periods of escalated conflict. According to Patrick Meier who was recently on a short field mission to Kyrgyzstan with UN colleagues, technology is also the source of dangerous rumours. When people are threatened and nerves are strayed it appears rumours spread like wild-fire, particularly through SMS. This iswhat civil society groups are doing to counter the rumours.
What’s making us reflect: something to read
I recently wrote about emotional labour at work – managing your feelings and expressions to fulfil the emotional requirements of a job – and this week I’ve discovered that ‘casual’ written communications can also have a profound impact on a person’s self-esteem and performance at work. There are so many mine fields you can stumble into at work and instant messaging platforms are particularly fraught with danger. If you’ve jumped on the Slack bandwagon like us at Written & Recorded, you’ll know that the platform is quick and easy to use and saves you from sending a gazillion emails, but it’s also not the place you’ll see great prose or well-thought out sentences that make the receiver feel valued. The words that appear in the channel can often be short, demanding and public – and have the potential to instil feelings of fear of failure. It reminds me of my mum’s experience of factory assembly lines – she used to describe them as unrelenting and a place ripe for public shame. Find out if instant messaging is destroying your work culture and what you can do about it.
Beyond Five: it’s too kooky to ignore
Some artists will go to all sorts of extremes to make a name for themselves and leave a lasting impression. Remember Stelarc, the man who skewered himself with meat hooks, and bled for his art. And what about the stench created by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye’s cloaca machine, designed to mimic the human digestive system inside Tasmania’s MONA. The poo machine is something you’re never likely to forget, in fact it’s likely to forever remind you of the witty phrase by actor Shane Jacobson from the film, Kenny – “there’s a smell in here that’s going to outlast religion.” While these two examples of artistic expression are on the fringes of extreme, Turner-prize nominated artist Roger Hiorns latest project is just as edgy – Roger is on a quest to bury aeroplanes and the BBC has followed him the outskirts of Prague. Oh, art.
And after all of that toilet talk, here’s our Gif of the week. You’re welcome.