Ready to Sacrifice for Your Wants?

The new NETFLIX original series AR*S wants to know.

The psychological drama premiered on Friday, January 17, 2020, and not only ask what do you want but what you are prepared to sacrifice to get it.

“AR*S” stars 26-year-old Dutch actress Jade Olieberg who plays a multi-ethnic medical student who’s had enough of people in her world phoning it in. She wants more and is willing to do what’s necessary to get it. The fact that she comes from a working-class family with a mom who is struggling with mental issues -advances the series’ plot in ways that are not obvious in the beginning.

After viewing the 8 episodes, my initial reaction was the .5 % wealthiest of society will not be happy. But then this portrayal of secret societies targets any of us who “belong” to one.

Cutting to the chase and without spoilers, the series forces us to look within. It wants us to answer if we have what it takes to conquer the world or even our hamlet?

The message focuses on the family legacy, ambition, desire, and last and the often forgotten, love. The streaming series turns those concepts on its head. It reveals the greatest of these things, but without any consolation.

image of a scene from Netflix series ARES
Photo Credit: NetFlix

The show’s message remains with you long after you’ve switched to something else. I couldn’t binge-watch the series – it was a little too intense.

AR*S  is Netflix’s first Dutch series, but it’s dubbed in English. Although the lip movement syncs up better than most international programming – I enjoyed listening to the original language while reading subtitles.

AR*S is not for the easily offended. This show doesn’t care about your “feelings.” If you’re not ready to investigate your triggers. Don’t watch it. If you do,  share with me what you think about “AR*S.”

Let Your Fingers Do the “Talking”

Above is a play on words of the famous 60s slogan “Let Your Fingers do the Walking” for the Yellow Pages commercial business phone book.

Even today, with internet search engines, we still let our fingers do the walking to find information. But while communication technology may be more efficient for business transactions, according to my mom, it comes at a high cost to our interpersonal communication and human interaction.

“Even with all these devices and numerous communication channels, we talk less, and phone etiquette is a lost art”  ~A former 1960’s PBX555 switchboard operator. (my mom).

front view of a phone switchboard
Bell System by Western Electric Switchboard PBX 555: Photo credit Live Auctioneer

Less interaction leaves us with fewer opportunities to practice humanity. And if you’ve spent time on social media, it’s evident the internet can sometimes be hostile territory, the antithesis of social networking.

So, if your livelihood depends on putting the network back in networking, like the switchboard operator, make sure the friendly voice on the line is yours.

I learned this lesson the hard way after trading in my Blackberry Storm for an iPhone in 2013. My Blackberry was a perfect digital assistant, but it wasn’t social, so I focused on maintaining my connections.

Once I got the iPhone, I spent so much time on social networks and iMessages – I didn’t want to take any phone calls.

My motto, “if I wasn’t in you, you in me, or had something on me -we didn’t need to speak on the phone.”

If someone left a voicemail, I would reply with text.

Unfortunately, my no-voice rule resulted in my virtual network growing in direct proportion to my real network’s shrinkage. When I deleted my Facebook account in 2014, I left behind hundreds of virtual friends -and very few traverse digital to join me in the real world. 5 years later, I’ve slowly built up my professional and personal network. Today, I spend hours on the phone, either interviewing subjects for features, brainstorming with prospects, or just to shoot the breeze with friends.

And the best part is it’s so satisfying. It feels like an actual in-person visit. No, carefully thought out responses, no lolls. It’s spontaneous, and there’s a lot of real belly laughs. A gift I’ve given to myself because I used my fingers to press accept or punched in a number, and they answered.

In Architecture, there’s a saying, “less is more.” When it comes to communication technology, this minimalist approach works with phones too.

As Bell’s 1965 ad promotes:

“Long Distance, It’s the next best thing to being there.” [1]

I do have one question about personal phone calls.

If someone phones you, is it to check up on you – or are they calling to talk about themselves. 

#Throwback: Cryptograms

Sometimes Keyboards talk back.

And while we’re busy typing away sending messages, if we pay attention, there may be a message or two for us too.

Well, at least that’s what I learned Thursday morning when I looked at my keyboard.  I noticed where I’d replaced the worn-out keys with bandaids, the letters spelled out a message.  I took a picture and showed the photo to my daughter.  She mentioned she was no good at anagrams. I thought. Yes, that’s it!  When I was younger, my favorite pastime included anagrams and cryptograms such as word scramble, find the missing letter in Jumble and word-finds, and word search.

I must have realized early on that cryptograms are also about decoding ciphers of sorts.  And I was busy working on retaining the cultural keys of my “lost” tribe.

Now that I think about it, I would do an occasional crossword, but it wasn’t my thing.  The Cruciverbalist usually attempts to communicate with the tribe to reinforce the culture.   And although I’m a trivia buff, mastery of mainstream crosswords requires assimilation into a culture.  Solving cryptograms allow you to uncover messages.

And as a child, it was my favorite way to play.

So, keeping with this week’s theme, the Latin etymology of anagram:

Ana = back, backward –
gramma = letters

And this reminded me of “Sankofa.”

From  the Wayback Machine “Sweet Chariot: the Story of Spirituals” [1] Sankofa is often associated with the  proverb,

Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi,”

which is an Akan term that translates as:

“It is not wrong to go back for that which you have forgotten.”

Adinkra symbols for Sankofa

A bird with eggs in her mouth symbolizes the proverb.  She’s dropping knowledge for the benefit of those who will come after her.  But it also appears that she is leaving a trail, like bread crumbs, before she flies away.  Maybe it will help her should she lose her way.

The bird also serves as a reminder that before letters, we communicated in pictorial symbols, much like the emojis we use today.  The Akan called the communication system Adinkra.

Here we have a bird who looks back to drop eggs, and it communicates a proverb to those who see her.    Using pictures and symbols in our communication causes us to anthropomorphize the object.  We’re predisposed to treat it with care and instead of trashing it.

And that is precisely what I learned from my keyboard.

Maybe she shared her message because I took the time to repair her, even if it was in the most rudimentary way, instead of disposing of her.

She’s told me she’s not just a keyboard. She’s a symbol of something much more significant.

See for yourself.

keyboard message

In celebration of #ThrowbackThursday –  Sankofa!