Aisle Of Wit

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Being Real

This one’s harder for me to write, because this one involves some pretty heartfelt feelings and some hints at facts I’m reluctant to share.  But heck, despite the wishes of at least two women I can think of off the top of my head, I somehow was inscribed in the Book of Life for at least a few more hours beyond Yom Kippur, so I suppose I still have to keep fighting.  The fact that you’re reading this at all reinfuses my fight.  Occasionally, some of you even react with a like or a comment.  So I do know there’s at least a few breathing, actual human beings somewhere that actually read these words.

So here goes.  I’m really, really, really good at what I do and I am supremely confident in what I know.  My track record proves it.  Hopefully some of what I have written–more than 500 of these installments so far between my two sites–have made an impact.   I think anyone, even my most fervent haters, will concede that what I have done professionally is damn good and has made a lot of people far richer than me.

I also know my own finances at this point in life, nearly 29 months after any appreciable earnings  from consulting or employment have come my way, are practically depleted.  I don’t advertise that, because I’m constantly reminded that honesty in any form is usually loathed, particuarly on social media.  Usually by people in my age bracket, and who once I shared an income bracket with.  So many of them think social interaction these days is posting a series of pictures of their recent overseas trips, their kids’ graduations or their recently deceased pet.  I can’t offer anything of my own in those categories these days–in fact, I’m not even allowed to own a pet these days, let alone have the resources to properly take care of one.  So while I’ll usually like what those fortunate enough to have such a quality of life share with positively with the world, I’m less likely than ever to share my own similar posts.

But because one of my greatest skill sets is to see the world as accurately and empathetically possible through the eye of others, I consistently try and learn what’s hot with people outside of my box.  And, as those of you who fall into Gen Z, or are around more of this demographic on a daily basis than I, already know, the hottest app trend of the summer of ’22 was Be Real.  Whose mission statement alone made me an enthusiastic fan.

`As Charissa Cheong of The Insider recently reported:

BeReal was invented in 2020, but it’s been having a moment this year. According to trending news website Social Media Today, downloads of the app have risen by 315% since the beginning of the year, now ranking fourth in the list of most downloaded social media apps, behind Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest. 

According to the app’s description on Apple’s  App Store, BeReal encourages people to “show your friends who you really are, for once,” by removing filters and opportunities to stage, over-think, or edit photos. 

So, as Wordle has already gotten a little stale for me, I downloaded it and, just like Ms. Cheong, I quickly got hooked.  And since, per USA Facts, there’s approximately 3.5 million more people in her age range than mine, I am not surprised that while I’m, as usual, late to the game of early adoption, I’m also more likely to be next in line to follow Gen Z’s lead.  After all, when demography is broken down by age bracket, my age range (50-64) falls just below 20-34 when these slivers are ranked.

So, to me, it’s only a matter of time before even people in my world come to realize the motivation behind the upsurge of downloads, and the desire of its users to, if for only two minutes a day, to not hide behind filters, voiceovers, enhancements and best feet forward. Heck, even the season premiere of Saturday Night Life parodied it, which is usually how I learn of new music acts these days (confession: that skit prompted my curiosity).

So, per Cheung’s Insider piece, here’s the rules behind Be Real, and perhaps some insight as to why a generation so increasingly influentilal, and consistently in conflict with those older than them, is how Be Real works:

BeReal allows you to share photos of yourself and your life, but with a catch. Everyone is supposed to post once a day, at the same time. 

The app notifies users at a random time throughout the day that it’s “time to Be Real.” A two-minute timer starts when the user opens the app, giving them a limited amount of time to take a picture of whatever they’re doing at that moment.

When posting a BeReal, the app takes a picture using both your front and back camera, so other people can see what you look like and where you are. 

You don’t need to see a picture of me, or where I am, right now.  But I will give you a “Be Real” glimpse of where I am emotionally.

It’s not in a good place.  Yet another business colleague related to me how her company, one of the leading insights consulting companies in the world, was “impressed with my background, but thought I was way overqualified”.   I could argue for hours how short-sighted that may be, but we both know that’s neither constructive or likely to be impactful.  So that set me off.

Then, I read on Deadline about the hiring of a woman named Alice Rao as Hallmark’s senior vice president of publicity.  Publicists still tend to get stories about themselves in trade media these days; the days of announcements about people like myself are long gone.  Here’s how Rao was described in the piece:

Recognized among CableFax’s Most Influential Minorities in Cable, Rao has launched, amplified, and transformed entertainment brands, having consistently driven audience growth, and built expansive press awareness in the US and internationally.

Prior to joining Hallmark Media, Rao worked as a communications and publicity consultant with Netflix, HBOMax, Turner Networks and MRC Media, focusing on hit shows Stranger Things, Emily in Paris, Russian Doll, The Upshaws and other titles. She also helped drive record-high ratings successes in her senior executive roles at AMC Networks, Sony, NBCUniversal, and Discovery Networks with a diverse portfolio of tentpole shows that included Project Runway, Top Chef, Queer Eye, Braxton Family Values, Bridezillas, and many others.

Except for the specific shows, and the first eight words of the description, Alice Rao and yours truly have virtually identical career paths and highlights.  Now, I’ve never met Alice Rao, and it’s pretty clear she’s pretty damn good at what she does, too.   But it’s those first eight words, as well as Rao’s head shot, that are keeping me up right now, and making me angrier and angrier as I ponder them.

Recognized among CableFax’s Most Influential Minorities in Cable.

Was Alice Rao hired for this well-deserved job more because of the 104 words that detailed what she did for so many hit shows, networks and platforms?

Or was she hired more because  of the eight words I simply can’t factually match up with her with–was it more becasue she’s a female, and an “influential minority”?

Hallmark Media is run these days by a woman of color.  Virtually all of their senior executives are female.  They are developing an increasingly diverse portfolio of projects, including, most notably, a subset under the Mahogany banner, which parallels a corporative initiative that is selling greeting cards specifically targeted to African-Americans.

I’m sure Alice Rao has ample reason to celebrate.  Who knows, she might even have traveled overseas recently, or even posted a picture of a pet –hopefully living–on social media.

Regardless, I’m reasonably certain she’s feeling better right now that I am, and would, if inclined, be more ready to post a Be Real than I am.

Approximately 10 million jobs are currently open in the United States these days, per Trading Economics.  I’m actually up for a couple of them.  But there are still some hurdles I need to overcome before one of them hires me.  And believe me, I’m WAAAAAAY more overqualified for those gigs than I am for my friend’s global consulting company.

I am dialoguing with another one–very much in its earliest stages.  Again, even people who might otherwise wish Yom Kippur hadn’t gone so well for me would, if pressed, admit that kind of role suits me well.  And if one–simply ONE –of them would simply HIRE ME, I might be able to actually sleep.

But I still haven’t been given any sort of offer, or anyone who actually has a project or a job where they can pay me to step up.  And, even more frustratingly, there appears not to be a single human being in my entire limited social circle, real or virtual, who actually can do anything more for me these days than refer me–NO ONE I KNOW SEEMS TO BE HIRING!!!–and almost all simply provide me with LinkedIn links.

LinkedIn is little more than social media for press releases and my direct experience is that the job postings those that still want to help me send my way are jobs that have been filled, or earmarked with instructions to prefer candidates who fill a few more diversity tick marks than do I.  That uncomfortable truth has been confirmed to me by no less than a senior executive who once headed up HR for Disney, not to mention dozens of people in my demographic sector who are also currently “in between gigs”.

And before you start crowing about driving for Uber, their Los Angeles offices are still shut down due to “the pandemic”, and my form submissions–with follow-up by e-mail; there is no working phone number–have gone unanswered for more than a year.  And with gas in my neighborhood approaching $7 a gallon, frankly, the cost-benefit analysis is increasingly moving against even that as an option.

Pure and simple, I need help.

I’m so under water I can barely see the sun.  I’m far closer to the ocean floor than ever.  I feel like an anchor of debt, frustration, rejection and “not being a fit” is pushing me farther down every waking moment.

If I’ve had any conversations with anyone reading this about any possibiltiies anywhere, in any form, in any way, in the past 29 months, I am imploring you to please please, PLEAAAASE follow up with something OTHER THAN A LINK NOWWWWWWWWWW.

Or maybe you can figure another way to help me more directly.  I’ll leave that up to you.  And, sadly, I wouldn’t refuse it if offered.

But, like you, I have my pride.  I WANT TO WORK.  I don’t put up that “OPEN TO WORK” graphic on my LinkedIn page just because it frames my picture handsomely.  I put it up because I am OPEN TO WORK!!!!!

It seems that when I have the audacity to ask actual friends and people who have known me for help, they get so frustrated or insulted with me that they effectively cut me out of their lives.  This past weekend, I was disinvited to a reunion of many former executives, a number of them millionaires, because I committed the cardinal sin of asking for a lead to someone, anyone, in any capacity, who might still want to exploit my brain,  My brain helped them on their path to BECOMING MILLIONAIRES!!!  Alas, these days that seems no longer to matter.

That’s my Be Real.

Like other fads, this may soon lose its zeitgeist cache , and like most posts, they tend to fade into cyberspace with not even a like or a thumbs up.  Gen Z tends not to react as much or as often as my generation does, and, again, it’s not like I’m going to Italy or Greece or rocking a sundress to be worthy of such a reaction anyhow.

But I am still breathing.  I’m still thinking.  And I’m still fighting.

I just can’t do it alone anymore.  And I definitely can’t do it simply with well wishes.

Admittedly, yesterday was a slower news day than most.  The only reason I stumpled upon Alice Rao’s story is that I scrolled through it deep into Deadline’s pages, and aside from the higher-than-expected audience delivery of the FBI episode with overtones to Uvalve outperforming expectations, little else actually seemed to ne worthy of any acknowledgment.

Honestly, I’m really happy for Alice, or, for that matter, anyone else who gets a position anywhere.  I just want to be one of them again.  Soon.  REAL soon.

Please.  Help.  Me.

Until next time…