Clickbait – a story of people on the Internet

Clickbait on Netflix is an Australian series of 8 episodes relevant to our Internet-infused lives. It is a binge-worthy show in the thriller-crime genre. The twists and turns in the plot are intriguing. The end is engaging and packs in quite a surprise element. Clickbait is also a commentary on the complex nature of relationships, work, and individual psychology.

For instance, Detective Amiri – we see a bit about his personal life, but we also glimpse how his insecurities affect his professional demeanor and work relationship. He feels overlooked because of his religion. In reality, as a lone wolf, he lacks the skill to work in a team. Amiri is ambitious, with personal and professional ethics mostly in the right place. On the other side of the spectrum, we have the journalists. They hound the victim for news bites and employ objectionable methods to capture information and the coveted prime time slot. These and other incidents provide ample food for thought on complex work dynamics in various professional arenas.

Pia, as one of the leads, has a visibly volatile temperament. She is determined to solve the mystery involving her brother, Nick. We witness an empathetic side of her as she fights for her family. As the shadow of an Internet-based crime hangs low over the Brewer family, skeletons drop out of the closet, including extramarital relationships.

Characters that do not fill in the entire space of the series but feature in dedicated episodes have a lot of depth. Tech-savvy teenagers, who do not understand the impact of technology, put themselves and the lives of others at risk. From GPS-tracking devices, memes, and trends, to meeting strangers on the Internet, youngsters pride themselves on being connected. How many of them are mature enough to understand the consequences of using technology, even if well-intended? Why blame the children, when even the adults plonked in front of screens, take part in a make-believe world? The series brings out the horrors of convoluted identities and an even-more complex web of lies on the world wide web.

A content moderator sits through 10, 000 images a day, sieving out the trash from the Internet. Trudging through his boring life, he probably does not realize how the violent and inappropriate content he is perusing every day has subconsciously affected him. His wild side breaks out after he cannot save his sister from being deceived on a dating site. Then, there is the compulsive liar, the insurance agent, who is so good at weaving stories out of thin air that maybe her mind stops processing the thin line between fantasy and facts. I found her character to be quite impactful.

At the end of it all, there is one underlying theme. The pursuit for the remedy of loneliness through the Internet. When we are alone, anxious, perturbed, even bored, we turn to devices to consume mindless information, entertain ourselves, fix dates, and make friends. As the clock ticks, filling in the stark hours, we throw caution to the wind. We are entangled. We are callous. We are still lonely and afraid. Trust is a beautiful thing, but it shatters bit by bit, rather, click by click, as we bite the bait and hope for beautiful and extraordinary things to emerge from the Internet. It is all a lie!

Clickbait, as a series, has garnered mixed viewer responses. I found it watchable and impressive enough to feature on my blog. Beyond the crime drama and investigation, the psychological aspects are worth pondering. Clickbait is a tale of complex mind-games and a reflection of our society. It projects the mental health condition of the seemingly normal-life leading individuals and how it hides behind glossy screens and digital spaces. The more these people need to get help, the more reclusive and secretive we become. It carries a message of caution not just about what you click but also how well you know the people in your life.

You cannot do it all and it’s okay

One of the trends in the women’s empowerment movement is to expect and push women to be all-rounders. The call is to know and do everything independently and magnificently – manage the house budget, know how to do the taxes, help with the school work, deliver the work presentation, deck up for the family or social event, mind the Ps and Qs, develop a competitive mindset – and much more. The demand is to do it all with aplomb and impeccably. To create gender equality, society burdened women with the responsibility of being successful, within and outside the home.

Perfection is the barometer of this empowerment. It is exhausting to be projected as the domestic goddess and the work maverick with many arms. Women are expected to strive more, go the extra mile, adjust, sacrifice, have their choices questioned, and at the end of it all be perfect. This concept and expectation are flawed.

True empowerment is to allow women to decide and execute what is best for them, and within their capacity, even if imperfect. The goal of every woman is not to shatter the glass ceiling or acquire the corner office, or a place in the C-suite. The goal is to contribute and exercise the potential to elevate oneself mentally, spiritually, and economically. The social worker is doing an amazing job, so is the teacher, doctor, scientist, or the woman who wants to start a business from home, or wants to quit a job to stay home.

It’s all okay. An effort may not win an award or have a cushy label attached to it, or feature on a magazine cover. Each woman should be empowered to pursue happiness and success, on her terms, without the need to be perfect but with the courage and the resources to support her choices.

Also read – the difference amongst job, career, and calling.

Mantra for simple, effective communication

Read my previous post here – Art and Technology

I am back with some more observations around the intricate depictions in The Billion Dollar Code, a 2021 German television miniseries on Netflix. Since this piece is related to the last episode and centers around the courtroom drama, it has a few spoilers.

Two things drew my attention in episode 4. The first was an emphasis on body language and gesture as tools of effective communication. The second was the impact of simplifying complex technical material into plain language, amplified with a simple flowchart.

When ART+COM founders – Carsten Schlüter and Juri Müllerare – are assigned to meet a body language specialist to train for grooming, appearance, gestures, and breaking into a closed conversation, they are not impressed. At the stand in the courtroom, the duo realizes the significance of everything that was taught to them. They bring the lessons into practice with some benefit.

Communication is an exchange of information between two or more parties. It breaks down when there is no interchange of ideas. A strong verbal communicator can dominate and influence the entire course of a discussion and hence the decisions. It is important to imbibe the skills of effective communication. This implies being able to get one’s words across and also understanding the body language and psyche of the communicator. It is also imperative to convey one’s stance with gestures and expressions of confidence. Being poised and impressive is beneficial to add weight to the matter being expressed.

Presentations are an important communication tool. Experts in any field are so engrossed in the intricacies that they find it hard to break it down to the basics. As a technical communicator, I see this in the field of information technology also. The subject matter experts want every bit of information documented. The users want to know only what enables them to complete simple actions. The technical communicator bridges this gap and how – by sieving through the information and using plain, simple, minimalistic language, supported by graphics to convey the essentials. A similar scene plays out in the courtroom where the expert who explains the technical jargon through a simple diagram and in easy to infer terms, sways the jury in their favor. 

Knowledge is impactful only when it is communicated and presented in the language of the users. Recognizing the personas of your target audience to bring out intricate information in the most relatable content and style is the only way to nail it. Keep it simple, keep it smart. Present it plainly, convey it confidently. This remains an effective mantra for the effective communicator.

Art and technology

I am watching The Billion Dollar Code, a 2021 German television miniseries on Netflix, and it struck me that art and technology are interconnected. Terravision, the purported precursor of Google Earth was conceived as an art project. The team funded by Deutsche Telekom consisted of more artistic than technical people.

In episode 2, when Juri Müller conceptualizes the future of Terravision, an algorithm that ties together satellite images of the Earth, he says, “now it is empty, only form. But what happens if we fill it with content?” He elaborates, “If you fill Terravision with content, it would become a portal to a database with the knowledge of the whole world.” The leading duo goes on to speak about virtual reality.

I cannot but smile at the use of the keywords – content, database, knowledge, portals. Technology is potent but it is just a shell that needs to be filled with the right content and marketing to explore its full potential. A code can be written and a graphical element designed only after an idea is conceived. Ideas and thoughts are a part of the creative mental process involving intuition, inspiration, logic, reasoning, research, and imagination, which are eventually expressed on the drawing board. This expression is art!

The soul of technology is art. Without aesthetics, technology may not touch human lives. We want slim Smart TVs, foldable devices, colored straps for smartwatches, and a touch of beauty and style in all of our technology-enhanced lives. Innovation is a popular keyword in technology and engineering organizations. Being innovative is being creative and every innovation starts with art and creativity.

As a technical communicator, I find myself at the intersection of art and technology; creativity and code. It is the byline that describes everything I strive for in my professional life. I want to see and bring out the soulful side of technology, through relevant content that connects people with their devices. I am a creative person who believes in the future of technology, and for me, art and technology are inseparable.

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