A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times



I know you don't watch trashy television. I know that the only things you watch on TV are likely to be the News, The South Bank Show and the odd wildlife programme. And I also know that it falls upon me to be your eyes into the world of tele-visual garbage. Which is why, I've spent several agonising evenings over the last week watching Sycophant and Dick (Ant & Dec) present...

I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here!

Don’t panic... I’m aware some of you might crave such escapism so I’m not going to give anything away. No instead, for the purpose of this blog entry, I will only refer to last year’s offering of this God awful programme.

While I'm almost certain that you haven't watched it, and equally certain that you've airily skipped over any newspaper coverage of the programme.... even if it was liberally illustrated with photographs of Jordan's breasts. No, I know you don't know who Jordan is either. So here's how the programme works... in a nutshell...

Ten slightly-past-their-best celebrities are taken into the Australian rainforest for 2 weeks and filmed 24 hours a day while they interact and carry out various tasks in return for food.

Every now and again, the public get a chance to vote (don't you just love premium rate telephone lines?) on who they'd like to stay, and conversely, who they'd like to leave - based on what they've seen. The last man or woman in camp is the winner. Simple as that.

It all sounds awful doesn't it? Well it is. But you're lucky you've got me to watch it for you, because hidden away in the sheer tedium of it all are some valuable lessons for people like us using social media... people who’s postings stand or fall by our ability to influence other people.

You see, all those people in the rain forest are selling. They're selling themselves to the public who vote. And the behaviour of the ones who are successful, and the behaviour of the ones who are not so successful, tells us an awful lot about how people are influenced. And a lot about how to conduct ourselves in social media. It's the same in Big Brother too.

You see, the first to go are always the bores...

Now you can get away with a lot of things when you're selling to someone. They'll put up with a little exaggeration, some bad manners, maybe a little boasting, but one thing they won't put up with is being bored. In a sales presentation of any kind, they'll stop listening. On a media post or in a letter they'll stop reading.

And in the jungle, in "I'm a celebrity..."
they'll pick the phone up and vote for someone else to stay.

You can be foul mouthed, you can be lecherous, you can be oily, you can be emotionally incontinent, you can blow your nose without the aid of a handkerchief... you can do any or all of these things, but it will be tolerated far longer than if you're boring.

So rule one in both selling, media and in the jungle...
Is bore your audience and it's instant death.

And the next thing you want to avoid doing is... appearing to try too hard. Because after the bores, the people who are usually next on the 'I'm a Celebrity' hit list, are the terminally eager. For some reason - and I don't quite know what it is - we British like success to appear effortless. We are somehow distrustful of people who appear too intent on reaching a goal. We like our success to come with a touch of nonchalance... with a sort of take it or leave it attitude. (Bang - and that Barry Scott is gone!)

It's odd, but we prize and reward effortless success
over success that is clearly strived for and sweated over.

The contestant who overtly wants to win badly, will almost certainly lose. Same thing with any sales pitch.

The salesman who goes over the top will usually go under. The advertising copywriter who's sales letter smacks of overkill will have his prospects reaching for the waste bin rather than the credit card.

You see, trying too hard indicates desperation, and desperation suggests that you probably have something to hide, or you have failed miserably in the past and now need to make amends... fast!

And would you really feel comfortable putting your money on someone like that?

There's a very fine line between enthusiasm and over-enthusiasm, between wanting success and appearing desperate for it. But it's a line you need to tread if you're to win in the jungle, and it's a line you'll need to tread if you're to encourage real people to 'vote' for you by exchanging their time for what you're putting forward.

Okay, so you're not boring and you're not desperate. You'll survive for a while in the jungle... just so long as you don't appear too smart, or talk down to people.

I'll let you into a secret...

Almost every one of us is insecure. When we meet someone (whether that be a real meeting or a tele-visual one) we either consciously or unconsciously mentally place them in some kind of intellectual and social pecking order, in which our own position is already fixed.

If we can place that person below us, then we're comfortable. They're not going to do or say anything which makes us uncomfortable about ourselves. But if we mentally place them above us, then we're uncomfortable...

And that discomfort becomes unbearable if it becomes clear that person 
shares our view of our relative positions in the pecking order.

What I'm trying to say via a stream of pseudo-psychological babble here, is if someone's a snob, or if they clearly believe themselves to be our intellectual superior, then we'll reject them...

So in the jungle, it's the stuck up smart-arses
who are next for the chop.

And you've guessed it... it's the same thing when you're selling to real people again. Would you buy from someone who 'talked down' to you, and clearly thought themselves to be your social and intellectual superior? (Present company excepted, of course!) I doubt it.

You'd be far more likely to engage with someone who treated you as an equal, or maybe was smart enough to give a little ground - to give the impression that you were the one holding the social and intellectual upper hand.

And you'd be even more likely to buy from someone who was really, really smart - someone who owned up to one or two weaknesses in what they were trying to sell to you. Not deal-breaking weaknesses you understand... just enough to assure you that they are being honest, and have nothing to hide.

Once again, that's just as true in print as it is in a face-to-face situation.

So who will win the competition in the social media jungle?

Well my analysis would suggest someone interesting, laid back about winning, and not too pushy or openly ambitious. Someone with the common touch. Someone who isn't afraid to be open about themselves, but without revealing any real dark secrets. Someone who appears to have the interests of his or her fellow contestants at heart. Someone with mental strength, courage and integrity...

Either that or the one with the biggest tits.

One more interesting thing to come out of that show is... In the first week, the public had to vote on who they wanted to do one of the extremely nasty challenges which are a big feature of the show. It's a sort of anti-popularity contest, giving the public the chance to make someone very uncomfortable. The interesting thing is that the people chosen most readily for these tasks are the same ones who score very highly when the voting starts to keep people in the competition...

Put simply, some people score high in both
popularity and unpopularity poles.

The reason is simple... strong characters create strong impressions - both positive and negative. For every person who is repelled by a strong character, another is attracted to them. Somewhere in the middle are the bland who neither attract nor repel.

So when you're creating a message, no matter how it's going to be delivered, it needs to be a strong one. Some people will hate it, and tell you so. But for every one that does, there will be another who will be attracted by it. That's far better than having a bland, inoffensive message which upsets nobody, but doesn't motivate anyone to read it either.


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Its my own fault really, its all about what I see in the world, and how it all translates for me.

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