Category Archives: Psychology

Nothing Worth Achieving: Heineken Launches ‘Beer of the Future’!

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Love, Virtually – Two Point Zero: Can Mend Heal Your Broken Heart?

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With Valentine’s Day now indubitably a global festival like perhaps no other – one that practically nobody can escape – and the contemporary relationship scene being characterised by epic churn, we at Mediolana felt moved by an article that our Creative Director & CSO recently came across in The New York Times on the topic of Mend, a new app and associated online community aimed at assisting people going through painful heartbreaks.

Mend (iOS launch date: July 2016) was founded by Ellen ‘Elle’ Huerta, a former Google employee who noticed – during a break-up of her own – that there was gaping gap in the app world for precisely this type of situation, while the corners of the Internet devoted to the topic were (and, we dare venture, still are) dominated by platitudes whose wisdom may only become apparent after a very long time indeed.

Huerta has correctly observed that while there is an ocean of fitness and (somewhat more tentatively) ‘brain-health’ software, vast areas of people’s love lives – beyond those pertaining to getting into a relationship in the first place – are wildly underserved. And on one level, Mend appears to be a great idea which taps into a clear cross-cultural need, having already been downloaded in over 100 countries; moreover, it certainly seems to have the backing of key players in Silicon Valley.

But after some reflection, in our opinion there is one clear potential issue with the concept: by turning such a sensitive area of human existence into yet another domain to be ‘managed’ electronically, apps such as Mend could make society overall that little bit less caring. Secure in the knowledge that there is now an algorithm to tend to their acute emotional needs, people may leave their friends in the care of a portal which can never actually be physically present, let alone listen to someone at close quarters who is truly suffering. Further iterations of Mend – an update is scheduled for this spring – must take this vital consideration into account if the noble original purpose of this technological marvel is not to be subverted.

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Hygge-ing Hell: ‘World’s Happiest Nation’ in New Serotonin Scandal!

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Filed under Parenting, Psychology, Spirituality

Making Relationships Great Again: From Disenchantment to Magic via Game Theory

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Notwithstanding the tumultuous socio-psychological state of today’s world, there is actually surprisingly little which keeps our Creative Director & CSO awake at night. One of the exceptions to this rule is the seemingly relentless march – particularly, though by far from exclusively, in technology-defined cities such as London – towards a post-human society in which human beings are increasingly perceived as disposable. Within the job market, robots are unquestioningly viewed as superior replacements; within wider society, immigrants and other out-groups are libellously demonised in a way that even two years ago would have seemed almost unthinkable.

The dating scene is not immune to this logic. People – real people with feelings, emotions, sensibilities and fragilities – are now routinely dismissed with not so much as a left swipe on a screen. And for those people who do get dates, the shadow of ritual humiliation is rarely too far from the surface.

In recent years, much of the analysis of post-modern dating’s sub-optimal outcomes has focused on this topic from male perspectives; while this is in some ways entirely understandable, these narratives have tended to marginalise or even ignore a genuinely disturbing phenomenon: that of women in consenting relationships being starved of affection, used and then unceremoniously discarded by men who seem incapable of forming attachments – or beyond this, even basic empathy.

It was therefore with great relief that we at Mediolana came across a recent item at FASHIONARTISTA – a beauty industry/lifestyle blog with a burgeoning and richly-merited following – which addresses this issue head-on. In Why We Are Losing Our Charm And How To Get It Back, game theory is used to great effect in illustrating how the dynamics of male-female dating interactions can be tipped back towards sanity by the latter adopting a classic ‘less skin, more charm’ strategy.

By metaphorically augmenting one’s character with a layer of mystery (and perhaps literally adding a layer of clothing to the evening brand), the terrain of the dating game can be changed from one which is primarily about sex to one which is about the quality of the human being you are having dinner with; sex does not disappear, but instead has a chance to occur at such a time when it can possess some metaphysical significance – and with this, a corresponding leap in quality and connection.

So far, so logical – but what if adoption of this strategy still ends in rejection? After some contemplation, this is where – at least for us at Mediolana – ‘less skin, more charm’ comes into its own. If a young lady is following the rest of the advice given at FASHIONARTISTA’s blog – which can best be summarised as counsel on the art of being more graceful – and there are still no takers in her social circle or dating market, then the course of action is clear. Change your social circle, change your location, change the religion and/or weltanschauung of the people you date (or even your own). Refuse to be stuck in a cycle of second-rate relationships – go to where the great guys are and be appreciated for being you in all your glory. Numbering the days of the disposable society requires nothing less.

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Japanese Lessons: What Japan’s Collective Sleep Deficit Teaches The Rest Of The World

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A recent item that caught the eye of our Creative Director & CSO illustrates that while some cultural norms can change in a remarkably short period of time, others are almost impossible to shift. Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare has revealed that full-time employees clocked 2,026 hours of work in 2015, just twelve hours fewer that the equivalent total for 1995; this is despite years of government discussions and initiatives designed to wean the East Asian economic giant off its addiction to presenteeism.

Most analyses – particularly Western ones – about Japan’s long-hours culture come across as both patronising and fearful: the overriding sentiment is that those crazy, work-obsessed Japanese need to chill out and Be More Like Us, while there is usually a strong undercurrent of nervousness at the sheer indefatigability of Japan’s labour force.

However – and after some contemplation – we at Mediolana think this school of thought is missing the central point. Putting in plenty of overtime in an office setting is not necessarily a bad thing; however, when it becomes decoupled from results and starts to infringe on areas of life that it has no right to significantly influence, then it is quite justifiable to ask serious questions.

In particular, Japan’s culture of persistent overwork has resulted in the nation running a chronic sleep deficit; this is threatening not just to derail Japan, Inc., but Japan, period:

  1. Macro Decision-Making. Arguably the core catastrophe arising from being a country that is collectively zonked is that Japan’s macro decision-making capabilities have been severely compromised. In particular, the placement of several nuclear power stations on earthquake fault lines passed almost entirely beneath the radar; this tier-one disaster waiting to happen did not generate any significant civil society response or governmental action until after it had actually occurred, with predictably dire consequences.
  2. Declining Intimacy. Another repercussion of the salaryman model is not having the energy – and increasingly, the inclination – for establishing deep emotional bonds with a member of the opposite sex. The corollary of this is a copulation collapse – and a birth rate that presages depopulation on a truly astonishing scale. Addressing this genuinely existential issue is something that the Japanese body politic is evidently too tired for; its reflex response of continued hostility to immigration – even when confronted with certain and acute impoverishment – is that of a comatose entity.
  3. Performance Anxiety. Maybe the most troubling part of the time-expended economic model is that it is clearly no longer delivering the sensational growth rates of the past. In 2001 (and following one lost decade), Japan became a pioneer in printing the heck out of its currency in an attempt to stimulate (or perhaps more accurately, simulate) expansion of the economy; several rounds of quantitative easing and two-and-a-half lost decades later, it is pointless to even pretend that this system is working.

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Bad Vibrations: Why David Cameron Failed

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Historians will probably evaluate the contribution of David William Donald Cameron – the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 11th May 2010 to 13th July 2016 – almost solely in the light of the EU referendum. But this überpoll – which amounted to a career-ending defeat for the Witney MP – may only be a symptom of a bigger problem.

Notwithstanding Cameron’s auspicious entry into big-time politics – becoming leader of the opposition eight-and-a-half years into a Labour government headed by Tony Blair and just a little before the 2007- global financial crisis – he never managed to fulfil his potential. Cameron failed to gain an overall majority in a 2010 general election that seemed impossible for him to lose; when the 2015 election loosened the coalition shackles, he still felt insecure enough to push ahead with a referendum that was seemingly designed to shore up his own intra-party authority.

All this pronounced underperformance requires some explaining, but after some contemplation, we at Mediolana think that at least part of the reason behind it may lie in a very simple lacuna: a lack of personableness. According to a Financial Times source who is apparently a close colleague of the former Conservative icon, visiting David Cameron’s office was a basically unpleasant experience: ‘Nobody comes out of Dave’s office feeling better than when they went in.’

This matters, because it serves to highlight a key competitive advantage that organisations can harness: vibes. We live in a world where talent is mobile; moreover, in many highly-skilled sectors, structurally-unfilled vacancies are the norm. So unless (or increasingly, even if) organisations can offer a substantially higher salary to attract top talent – something which may not be financially and/or politically possible – they will have to offer something else to their (prospective) employee or contractor.

That intangible something is vibes. It goes far deeper than the oft-cited and undoubtedly important factors of first impressions and aesthetics: vibes concerns the very essence of the people and mission that constitute the corporation. It is practically impossible to fake, because it is a direct reflection of character; kindness, openness, generosity and thoughtfulness are very hard qualities to institutionalise in a mechanical fashion.

Good vibes enable buy-in and cooperation; bad vibes are scary and sinister. The latter may facilitate compliance, but it also encourages revenge. The demise of David Cameron merely exemplifies the importance of ensuring that those in your presence really, really want to be there.

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Dismayed in Hong Kong: Youth ‘Tiring’ of #Work-Obsessed Asian Metropolis!

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