After months of work re-tweaking, I’ve finished the new version of the scepter. I reworked many of the forms and lines and removed some elements that were there in error last time, re-did the assembly method for a better looking, more sturdy assembly with better access to the battery pack and changed the finish for something more durable long-term.
I’m also working very hard on improving my prop photography skills.
I will not be taking any commissions for these at the moment (all commission slots are closed). Once I finish what I currently have on order, I will open commissions again. I’ll make a post as soon as that happens.
Last week I, for different reasons, visited a few small businesses. Small businesses that are all doing great, all of them started by people -in this case they all happen to be women - with a strong will to do something they really like, starting from scratch and making it work. I started thinking about this and it made me happy -it's great to see people I, in one way or another, know succeeding!
First my colleague Ruska and I stopped by Vertical Club, which is a studio for, well, all things vertical - pole dancing and aerial classes like aerial yoga, -hoop etc. One of the owners used to share rehearsal studio space with us before. Now they are doing so well they are expanding into more studio space in their building! We'll be doing some collaboration with Vertical Club , with the possibility to book private dansative burlesque workshops with us there.
I also popped by Jolie for some cosmetics shopping. Jolie is a wellness concept founded by two friends a couple of years ago, with the dream to build up something totally new in Finland; a media portal and shop around healthy lifestyle and natural luxury cosmetics. As some may remember it became a rather special business for me as I was at their launch when my water broke and I had to head straight to the hospital and give birth :) Jolie is also growing has now opened up their own spa at a separate address from their shop; Jolie Spa. Well done!
Then we did some collaboration with PinUp Garage, which is a lifestyle and fashion store for all things related to the modern pin-up culture. (I added some photos I shot at the store to illustrate this post - because who doesn't like fancy dresses, high heels and fluffy petticoat lamps?)
PinUp Garage has moved from a location rather far away into a big space in the city, also fitting their own photography studio and a sewing atelier, so it's going really well for this store as well!
We were invited to do a humorous little live mannequin fashion show with their range of What Katie Did lingerie in the store window last weekend after closing time. It was part of the store's pre-Valentine's Day shopping event.
PinUp Garage is the only brick and mortar store selling WKD in Finland. On a side not, I have had What Katie Did as an affiliate of mine for a long time as I really like their vintage repro underwear. Apart for stockings I haven't bought any products myself for a few years though but now got to try out a whole lot because of the show! When ordering online I never managed to find out which size of the bullet bra would fit me best and tried a few different sizes but now came to the conclusion it just does not suit my shape that well, but found a great fit with the Dot bra instead! I can also recommend the Morticia corset which pretty much as good as one that I have had custom made for myself. (You can see both products on my instagram picture here.)
(Btw you can spot a poster in the window for the Kustom Kulture show which is next weekend at Kaapeli. We'll do a show there in the evening, and we'll be hanging around the event during the day too. So come and say hi if you stop by!)
PS. Nothing in this post was in any way paid for or sponsored. Tuomas Lairila and Maria Kimalle took the pictures of the WKD show.
It's 2014, how did that happen? And just over a month since my last post, which is the longest gap ever! But a much-needed break. Since I last posted, I have moved across London from the deepest south west - suburban Surrey where I have resided for the last decade - into (not quite) trendy east London. I now live in Clapton, which is sort of up-and-coming and sort of still a bit grimy. I have only been here three weeks (and that included Christmas and New Year, most of which I was away for) and I love it already! It's not on the tube, but the inner London railways are much more frequent than my old service, so that is perfect for me. I've moved in with my lovely boyfriend, who is used to bustling North London and the tubes running every three minutes, so he isn't so sure. Still, we have a little home which we are busy decorating and making nice!
But even despite getting rid of loads, we still have too much stuff for the space and it's a mishmash of vintage furniture, Ikea, modern technology, repro things and lots of framed band posters/nerdy prints/all the books ever. Expect some photos when it's done, though it will most definitely not be a Pinterest-worthy vintage design haven. Not least because Sean told me he'd seen nicer sofas than my (admittedly tatty) Art Deco ones in squats he'd visited over the years!! Thanks Sean. He's probably right though and thus they will be hidden under throws and probably replaced at some point. I'm accommodating like that!
Anyway, I have lots of things to write about, all very overdue and I have JUST got internet at home so I am going to start with a catch-up post. I had a mostly camera-less Christmas, which was much needed. Doesn't help that I can't find my charger since the move... Most of these are either camera phone or the little Pentax Q7 I got recently.
First up - a trip to Mussel Men, a favourite pop-up of mine who have moved into a semi-permanent residence on Kingsland Road. I love these guys. Sean and I went along just before the Big Move. I've written about their previous pop-up before, and the new venue is great with cocktails, really well-cooked sea food and handpainted walls covered in weird and wonderful marine scenes.
You can also challenge an opponent to a thumb war... NB it doesn't work as a one-player game ;)
They're doing a Burns Night extravaganza with streetfood style haggis and neeps, a new fish chowder brand (YUM), a Ceilidh rock band and lots of whisky cocktails in a couple of weeks... I think I might have to go. Check The Burns Night Hootenanny here!
What's next? Well, I modelled a new cherry red Fifth Avenue Coat for the amazing Heyday as one of my very last ever trip to my boyfriend's old flat... we had to pack, then move house, THEN the following day I went Up North to spend a few days with said boyfriend's family.
The live on the outskirts of the Moors and are really into walking. This wouldn't usually be a problem for me but for the fact that I had no idea where any of my practical clothing was in the packing disaster and wellies are fine for muddy short walks but not rambles around actual moors. Luckily, I was saved from trenchfoot by the very lovely Chatham Marine who I've posted about before and who read my mind and offered to send me some waterproof walking boots! Hooray!
You'll note my... 'unusual' walking outfit consisting of a dress, some running tights (for extra warmth), a highly impractical faux fur coat but some incredibly awesome and warm boots which didn't rub a single jot despite having never been worn and then subjected to a 5 mile walk over hill and dale. Totally waterproof too. Excellent and highly recommended!
Also, in the North, I found these clouds/dogs.
What else? Well, there was Christmas (not my best one and no dressing up was done):
Boxing Day with the extended family (inc. smallest member):
And lots of glittery festive hair flowers and nails for Christmas and New Year:
Winter is interminable, isn't it? It hasn't even really been properly cold yet (not worn a pair of gloves at all so far) and it still seems like it's gone on forever. It's been a bit nippier in the last couple of days though. Brr.
As if to compound the grey misery of winter, I am currently knee-deep in tax return AND my faithful 3 year old MacBook has had a big hardware failure and can't connect to the internet. I am writing this blog through the medium of phone tethering via bluetooth. Bloody miraculous it is... so futuristic!
Anyway, all this drizzle is making me long for summer, so I thought I'd post an outfit I just never got round to last year, that I wore in the blazing sunshine in Greece. Kind of makes sense...
Ta daaa! Summer!
As you may remember (or not), I went to a wedding of a friend and colleague in Greece at the tail end of last year. And very nice it was too.
Now, every wedding deserves a fabulous hat (not a rule I've ever stuck to up until now, do note) and, around a week before I jetted off, I went to Goodwood Revival and saw a hat I must have. It was on the head of the lovely Alex, aka the owner of Madam's Vintage, a vintage eyewear emporium. It wasn't vintage, which was lucky, but made by the talented Brit milliner Betsy Hatter!
I immediately emailed Betsy to see if I could order one to made in time for my departure, around 8 days later and I have to say, she pulled out all the stops and in a feat of amazing service got it to me in the very nick of time!
Isn't it lovely? It's the Elspeth straw hat, made with my choice of ribbon and flower (she also does nice felt ones) and at £70 for a completely handmade titfer, I think that is worth every penny (did I mention the astoundingly great service too?).
Anyway, the rest of the outfit is worthy of a mention too! Here's a photo where you can see the sunshine as well (it was actually blooming boiling).
I adore Trashy Diva and the lovely Miss Bamboo carries a great range of their frocks. My exact Trixie Sarong isn't available any more but she has a super one in 'Hawaiian Charm' print. Swedish Hasbeens sandals that I bought from Office on the feet, assorted vintage bangles and a hairflower custom-made for me by Rosia Alia Designs to finish! Check our Rosie's awesome turbans, by the way.
Bonus - a lovely pic of me and the man...
What are you most looking forward to wearing again next summer (or are enjoying wearing this summer in the southern hemisphere)?
I remember having to choose a specific major in college – it was a paper and pencil form that I had to fill out, penciling in the bubble of the major that I wanted to commit to for the rest of my life. Having never thought of that question before, let’s just say that it was nothing less than terrifying for this commitment phobe.
Choosing your major is declaring what you are going to do for the rest of your life. Well, it felt like it at the time. After trying on a business major and clashing with a little class called Accounting, I quickly realized that I needed to stick with something that I enjoyed learning about and landed in Communications.
It was the last time I really thought about the choice I had made.
My communications major was hardly mentioned when I landed my first job – it was in sales/marketing, in case you were wondering, or my second job in advertising. Apparently they wanted to hire anyone who would accept the measly pay.
But when I leaped for my third job, my “major” decision in college was questioned and picked apart.
“Why did you major in that? What did you hope you’d do with your life with a major in Communications? How did you think you’d apply those skills in the real world?”
Those were the decent questions, I won’t scare you with the ridiculous ones. I paused, and really thought about it.
What did my major in college, that I chose when I was a young adult, have to do with the current state of my life? Almost nothing, really. And here’s why.
1. Your major doesn’t matter as much as you think it does.
Whether you’re about to graduate or are 10 years into your career, your major is a snapshot in time of focus. What it helps recruiters and hiring managers know before they meet you, is which subjects you excel at and where your knowledge base starts.
That’s it. It’s the quick way of figuring out if you have the core knowledge and skills for any job. But it’s not even close to the whole story.
Your major is a part of your overall career toolkit – not the most important piece or the only piece, it’s just a piece.
Some of the most interesting hires I’ve had, were doing drastically different jobs than their degree “qualified” them to do. I’m talking about Engineering degrees working in Sales; English Literature degrees working in Finance; and so on.
If you aren’t going into a job that has specific training, your degree major isn’t as big of a deal as your Career Services team has been telling you.
2. You can always supplement your degree.
Not receiving specific training through a degreed program can be a barrier for certain jobs. But it’s not a deal breaker in most cases.
Let’s say you’ve decided to become a paralegal five years into your career with a degree in Marketing. Sounds like a big jump – particularly for a trade specific profession. But here’s where you can supplement your degree with relevant and pertinent experience. Take law classes through a community college. Seek out paralegal certifications. Train or intern to be a paralegal through on-the-job training.
Your degree is not the only piece of paper you can earn in your area of interest – it’s a starting point. But there are so many different ways to expand your knowledge base and skillset, that it’s not a road block, just a detour.
3. Work experience trumps your major.
If you have a college degree in anything, about five years out of school, the conversation is going to shift from your major to your experience. It’s going to be subtle, you probably won’t recognize it. But it will happen.
Instead of being asked about Communications, I started getting questions like, “So tell me what you did in this role?” Or, “How did your degree help you manage this situation?”
Your value and worth comes from more recent life work experiences than classroom learning. This is especially true if your career path has veered off your degree path.
It sounds a little like the chicken versus the egg conversation – how can you work in, say Marketing, with a Finance degree, if you don’t have marketing experience to fall back on? Here are a few ways:
Repositioning things that you did learn from your degree courses into a way that makes them applicable to the position you are seeking.
Volunteer doing activities in your desired new space, to gain real-world experience doing it.
Start at the bottom and work your way up. Entry-level jobs tend to have less degree-specific requirements.
Take an internship position to grow in your new area.
Request a rotational assignment at your current company. It’s usually a short-term assignment where you become a member (full-time or part-time) of the other department, to learn the necessary skills and expand your knowledge base.
The bottom line is this: your major is important, but it’s probably more important to you than it will be for your overall career. Which is comforting, especially as who can live with a decision they made at 18 for the rest of their life?
PS – If you want to hear the Life After College Alumni peeps in action, check out Jenny and Paul on the Launch Yourself Podcast!
We’d love to hear from you in the comments below: How have you been able to “get around” your major?
“Serenity comes when you trade expectations for acceptance.” ~Unknown
A few weeks ago, I walked into my studio apartment and found it quite messy, which isn’t that hard to do with 325 square feet shared by a couple.
I’m talking clothes on the floor, dishes on the couch, and paper strewn everywhere. It had been one of those weeks where both my husband and I were ripping and running, having little to no time to manage household chores.
I looked around, took a deep breath, and sat down on the couch after moving some papers. I enjoyed some dinner with my husband and then went to bed. I got up the next morning feeling rested and cleaned the apartment joyfully and pretty quickly with him.
Why am I telling you this? You see, a few months prior I would have stressed out and felt totally guilty about the house being so junky. I would have gone into an entire inner dialogue about how I wasn’t organized enough and how I couldn’t keep things together.
This would have led me into a cleaning frenzy for the rest of the night and I would have went to bed feeling tired and depleted, waking up the next morning in an exhaustive funk.
In that moment of first opening the door, I learned to fully accept and be at peace with what was actually happening rather than beat myself up with lofty expectations of what I had wanted to happen.
It was a subtle yet important shift in my life. I walked in and rather than feeling bad about the mess, I simply acknowledged that the apartment was in disarray.
Yes, there were clothes strewn on the floor. Yes, I had been working many hours and didn’t have the time to do laundry. I also acknowledged that “messy” was a relative term, and I realized that I felt a bit of shame about having a messy place because of strict rules that I grew up with when I was younger.
I accepted the fact that the apartment was messy and that it was okay to not do anything at the very moment to tidy up. It was so simple, just a few moments, but I suddenly felt myself breathing easier as a result and sleeping a lot easier without the worry or the inner critics coming out to play.
Sometimes I think we have to learn how to accept what is so that we can find peace of mind no matter what kind of day we are having or what type of circumstance we encounter.
Peace is available to us all of the time, even when life seems to be out of our control. It may not feel like it, but beyond chaos is serenity, if we only accept it. Solutions to our problems are also clearer when we move into this place of peace.
When feeling a bit stressed out about high expectations, gently remind yourself to do the following:
Acknowledge what is here. Simply notice for a few seconds what you are feeling, experiencing, seeing, and hearing without any judgment. Also, notice if any judgment is coming from you or other people in your life.
Accept that situation fully as it is. No shame. No guilt. Just acceptance and lots of deep breaths.
Be open to the inner wisdom that you possess. There may not be an immediate solution and that is totally fine. Sometimes I think a good pause is just what we need before we take a next step.
You are enough just as you are. It is a beautiful thing to accept the fullness of your human experience rather than wishing it was anything different.
There will always be homes to clean, items on the to do list, obligations to fulfill, inboxes to clear, and schedules to make. In the midst of all that, there will always be peace and joy available to us if we simply notice.
May you find ultimate serenity as you let go of expectations and root into full acceptance of yourself and your life experiences.
Kandice is a writer and storyteller who lives in Chicago with her husband Terron. She loves listening to music, drinking good wine, and taking road trips. You can find her writing over at vulnerabilityissexy.com and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
Here’s this month’s roundup of some inexpensive science fiction, fantasy and horror Kindle eBooks for you to check out on your favorite reading device. All of these titles are priced under $4 at the time of writing this post. But prices are subject to change, so check the price before clicking “buy”. If Amazon is not your eBook ecosystem, please do look up the titles wherever you buy your eBooks; discounts are often applied at other outlets.
But Rovio is beginning to see its games not as profit generators in and of themselves, but rather a tool to boost the sales of thousands of Angry Birds-themed products—ranging from mascara to theme parks—and build awareness ahead of the first feature-length Angry Birds cartoon, set to premiere in July 2016.
Rovio, the gaming company behind the immensely popular Angry Birds franchise, is changing its business strategy, aiming to make more money by making its games free.
Hence the return of an unorthodox proposal many thought had been laid to rest: for municipal governments to use eminent-domain (or compulsory-purchase) powers to seize underwater mortgages at below the home’s market value and to refinance them at lower rates. Homeowners get to stay put, and the city and a private sector partner split the profit. Governments traditionally use eminent domain to force property owners to sell their land for public projects such as railways. But high foreclosure rates lead to problems like blight, crime and falling house prices; some argue that cities and counties ought therefore to be able to invoke eminent domain in depressed housing markets for the public good.
UK Only Article:
Europe’s Tea Parties
America’s housing market
A radical plan to help “underwater” homeowners makes a comeback
IRVINGTON, NEW JERSEY, AND LOS ANGELES
Please seize me
Please seize me
IN 2000 Loretta and Clifton Christian bought a two-family home in Irvington, a hardscrabble New Jersey town of 54,000, for $132,000. They poured money into it, fixing the roof and replacing the boiler. But in 2008 the world caved in and the couple lost their jobs soon afterwards; they now live off their pension and the income from a second-floor flat they let out. They manage to meet their monthly mortgage payments of $1,845. But their house is now worth just $71,000, significantly less than the outstanding mortgage of $115,000.
Nearly 11m American homes are similarly “underwater”. Despite the housing recovery, parts of the country are still struggling: 3m-4m people ...
Supporters of President Obama’s health care law had predicted that expanding insurance coverage for the poor would reduce costly emergency room visits as people sought care from primary care doctors. But a rigorous new study conducted in Oregon has flipped that assumption on its head, finding that the newly insured actually went to the emergency room more often.
The study drew on data from the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment that included about 75,000 low-income Oregonians and randomly assigned about half of them to Medicaid coverage.
****Comments worth reading
A new study conducted in Oregon found that after getting health insurance, people went to the emergency room more often than their uninsured counterparts.
pe·num·bra peˈnəmbrə/Submit noun plural noun: penumbrae 1. the partially shaded outer region of the shadow cast by an opaque object. ASTRONOMY the shadow cast by the earth or moon over an area experiencing a partial eclipse. ASTRONOMY the less dark outer part of a sunspot, surrounding the dark core.
Doing an emergency server swap, I'm afraid. We hope there will be a minimum of bugs, but please let us know if anything is funky.
This week Sam and I visited the coast, specifically the Battery Russell and Peter Iredale shipwreck. It was so nice to get away from the heat and see the ocean. Sweater-borrowed from my sister-in-law Jeans and shirt-J.Crew Boots-Antique shop
The Misconception: People who riot and loot are scum who were just looking for an excuse to steal and be violent.
The Truth: You are are prone to losing your individuality and becoming absorbed into a hivemind under the right conditions.
Source: Improv Everywhere
When a crowd gathers near a suicidal jumper something terrible is unleashed.
In Seattle in 2001, a 26-year-old woman who had recently ended a relationship held up traffic for a little too long as she considered the implications of leaping to her death. As motorists began to back-up on the bridge and become irate, they started yelling “Jump, bitch, jump!” until she did.
Cases like this aren’t unusual.
In 2008, a 17-year old man jumped from the top of a parking garage in England after 300 or so people chanted for him to go for it. Some took photos and recorded video before, during and after. Afterward, the crowd dispersed, the strange spell broken. The taunters walked away wondering what came over them. The other onlookers vented their disgust into social media.
In San Francisco, in 2010, a man stepped onto the ledge of his apartment window and contemplated dropping from the building. A crowd gathered below and soon started yelling for him to jump. They even tweeted about it. He died on impact fifteen minutes later.
“i was there and im traumatized. the guys next to me were laughing telling him to jump and videotaping the whole thing. i’m still young and in high school and this is gunna stick with me for the rest of my life. there was a total lack of respect for the poor man and people were laughing when he jumped.”
- comment left at the SF Examiner
Police and firefighters are well aware of this tendency for crowds to gather and taunt, and this is why they tape off potential suicide scenes and get the crowd out of shouting distance. The risk of a spontaneous cheering section goading a person into killing themselves is high when people in a group feel anonymous and are annoyed or angry. It only takes one person to get the crowd going. Those are the three ingredients – anonymity, group size and arousal. If you lose your sense of self, feel the power of a crowd and then get slammed by a powerful cue from the environment – your individuality may evaporate.
Within a crowd like this many will retain their sense of right and wrong. Some are able to maintain their composure. Many who witnessed these events felt terrible about what happened and condemned those who encouraged the jumpers, going so far as to condemn humanity itself after seeing such a dark display. What they didn’t realize, and what the people yelling didn’t anticipate, was the predictability and regularity of the behavior.
This is going to be hard to believe, but this sort of behavior could be inside you as well. Under the right circumstances, you too might yell “Jump!” To understand why, let’s go shopping for costumes.
Source: Ramon Stoppelenburg
Halloween is a fantastic playground for cultural norms to clash and crack. Costumes and candy, parents and children, the revelry and irreverence directed toward evil and death and hauntings – it is a day to pull back from standards, the rules of proper and normal behavior, and experiment with surrogate selves.
In the United States, Halloween is very popular, with total sales each year around $6 billion. Of that, costumes make up over $2 billion. Across the country, people recede into anonymity and become absorbed by characters who will be shed the next day. Halloween is fun because it feels good to drop the heft of your flesh-and-blood identity from time to time no matter how old you are. The fantasy is something kids wearing clown shoes in pursuit of candy bars and adults shifting aside Guy Fawkes masks to accommodate Jager shots can both appreciate.
Halloween isn’t Mardi Gras or Carnival where just about anything goes, but it is truly the only holiday in the United States where everyone agrees to tilt their heads and let a giant swath of weird things slide. You can pretend to be Don Juan on Valentine’s Day, but you can’t dress like him in public without risking a photo landing on Reddit.
A great costume can draw attention to the garments of individuality you wear every other day simply by replacing them. Halloween gives you an opportunity to play around with the roles, labels and characters we all know are in some ways fabrications, mutually accepted fibs required to get by in a complex social game. The mask you wear to work or to a family reunion or out on a first date is not so much different from the one you wear heading out to plead for Snickers or dance to digital mixtapes.
These shades of self you’ve molded and honed over the years started out awkward and blunt, obvious and tacky. As you approached adolescence you tried on a variety of personae until one fit. You may have pierced body parts or tattooed areas you could cover up when needed. You may have singled out some celebrity or fictional character and cherry picked from their wardrobe, stealing a bit of their magic in the hope you could add it to yours.
Through each season of your life, you sharpen your image and polish your patina until you have a sense of the individual you claim to be.
Still, it’s always fun to role-play and hit reset, and Halloween is one of the few widely accepted times you get to do this in front of everyone you know. In many ways, it is a holiday celebrating anonymity through experimentation with individuality.
It was this muted sense of self which, in the late 1970s, led a group of psychologists to turn Halloween into a controlled study of the human mind.
Arthur Beaman, Edward Diener and Soren Svanum travelled to a nice neighborhood in Seattle, Washington, and picked out 27 homes which would become makeshift laboratories. The researchers wanted to see if the anonymity of Halloween costumes would affect the behavior of children as they gallivanted from secret lab to secret lab.
The researchers placed inside the entrance to each home a bowl of candy, a mirror and a festive Halloween decoration in which a scientist watched through a peephole as children arrived throughout the night. Yes, it was a bit creepy. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a side study into how difficult it would be to hold back the urge to leap out and scream at the children while wearing a labcoat and waving a clipboard.
Source: El Destructo
A woman greeted children throughout the night, and when the tykes presented their trick-or-treat bargains she told them each could have only one piece of candy. She then walked away, leaving them to sort out their tiny moral codes. Half of the time the woman at the door asked the children to say their names and where they lived before leaving them. If the children arrived with adults, they were omitted from the results. The psychologists wondered if the kids would take only one piece thinking there were no adults around to exact punishment or express disappointment in their gluttony. Would they react differently when alone or in groups? Would saying their names remind them of the people behind the masks? Once the kids were primed to remember their identity, or if they saw their reflection in the mirrors, would it remind them of who they were?
In the end, the mirror wasn’t the determining factor. What made the most difference was whether or not they had said their names and whether or not they were alone or in a group.
If they had to say their name and were also alone, less than 10 percent of children cheated. In a group, about 20 percent of those who revealed their identity disobeyed the host. More of the anonymous children stole candy when alone – 20 percent. In a group, close to 60 percent of the anonymous stole the candy. The results suggested the power of their anonymity was magnified in the presence of others. Left unmasked, the cheating rose a bit in a group. With the masks on, it was turbocharged. The kids who felt most anonymous and the most protected by the shared anonymity of the group were also the most likely to break the rules and take more candy. With anonymity set to maximum, many kids tried to take all the candy they could.
This study is one of many which shows your identity can spring a leak in the presence of others, and the more others there are, the more you dissolve into the collective will of the group. Looting, rioting, lynchings, beating, war, chasing a monster with torches – the switch is always there, and it doesn’t take much to flip it.
Psychologists call this phenomenon deindividuation, it’s fun to say and one of the more straightforward terms in the scientific lexicon. In certain situations, you can expect to be de-individualized. Unlike conformity, in which you adopt the ideas and behaviors of others for acceptance and inclusion, deindividuation is mostly unconscious and more likely to lead to mischief. As psychologist David G. Myers said, it is “doing together what you would not do alone.”
Think back to when you got into the most trouble as a teenager, or maybe even beyond those years. Chances are, you were in a group and became seduced by the collective will of your peers. There may have been influencers, instigators or natural leaders, but in the end everyone in your circle probably dissolved into the mind of the unit. When the principal, parent or police asked, “What were you kids thinking?” you had no answer because there wasn’t one. You were just reacting, moving as a herd.
In 1969, psychologist Phillip Zimbardo had female college students deliver painful electric shocks to other female students. Half of the students giving the shocks were randomly selected to wear big hoods and roomy lab coats during the experiment in addition to numbered tags. The other half remained unmasked and wore tags revealing their names. He told the soon-to-be torturers he was studying creativity under stress, and as a woman on the other side of a one-way mirror took a test they were to deliver shocks to see if it affected her performance. The women riding the lightning were actually actors and only pretended to writhe in agony.
Zimbardo made sure the subjects knew it was going to hurt by giving each one a 75-volt sample of pain. In addition, to provide motivation, he had the subjects watch a taped interview with the two test-takers in which one seemed friendly and sweet, but the other was rude and mean.
Zimbardo didn’t tell the girls in either group, masked or unmasked, how often to zap the test takers or for how long. They didn’t have to shock at all if they didn’t want to. They also didn’t talk to each other during the experiment. He wanted to eliminate as best he could obedience to authority and peer pressure. The only factors in play were anonymity and deindividuation. In groups of four, the students sat down and began to torment the test takers.
In each run of the experiment, the women hidden behind hoods and lab coats shocked the test takers twice as often. It didn’t matter if they seemed nice or mean, each actor got just as much juice from the hooded women. The shocks even got more frequent and lasted longer as the test continued. All the while, the actors pretended to be in terrible pain on the other side of the mirror.
The women whose faces could be seen shocked the nice actor less than the unpleasant one, and this according to Zimbardo was the most interesting finding. The deindividuation, the anonymity afforded by the hoods, allowed a terrible behavior usually held back by social norms to run free without any regard for fairness or justice. Without consequences, the excitement of having control over another person fed on itself. As Zimbardo said, the escalation was driven by a positive-feedback loop of arousal. The more they shocked, the more excited they got. The more excited they got, the more often they shocked. Although no one in the experiment refrained from shocking the test-takers, those who weren’t masked made a distinction between the woman who deserved to get her comeuppance and the one who didn’t.
Strangely enough, this same experiment was conducted with Belgian soldiers, and when they wore the hoods they shocked the test-takers less. In their case the uniforms they already wore promoted deindividuation, but the hoods isolated them. Among other soldiers they were part of a unit, a group. Under the hood, they were one person again.
“The banality of evil shares much with the banality of heroism. Neither attribute is the direct consequence of unique dispositional tendencies; there are no special inner attributes of either pathology or goodness residing withing the human psyche or the human genome.”
-Phillip Zimbardo from his book “The Lucifer Effect”
Zimbardo conducted another experiment, and like the Seattle researchers he used the wonderful built-in anonymity of Halloween as a tool. He observed as elementary-school children played games to win tokens which they could turn in at the end to earn prizes. The kids had a choice of games to play. Some games were competitive but non-aggressive while others were one-on-one duels like extracting a beanbag from a tube. The children played these games at a Halloween party both in and out of costume. The teacher told the children the costumes were on their way during the first round, and when they supposedly arrived the kids competed again with their identities concealed. Once the competition was over, the teachers said another class needed the costumes, so they went through the games one more time unmasked. The amount of time the children spent playing the aggressive games, pushing and shoving and yelling, doubled once the costumes were on going from 42 percent to 86 percent. When they came off, it dropped back to 36 percent. When in costume, under the spell of deindividuation, they wanted to go head-to-head and fight even though those games took longer and yielded far fewer tokens. As soon as the costumes were removed, they returned to more civil behavior.
Every time you wade into a crowd or don a concealing garment, you risk deindividuation, and it often brings out the worst in you. When you step back and see yourself as the perpetrator, you act as though your reputation and position in society is at stake. When you have no identity, when you are nameless, faceless and free from retribution, the chains of inhibition fall from your brain.
What hides inside you, held back by inhibition, and how would it manifest if freed? Would you yell for someone to jump to their death while tweeting about it and taking photos? Sitting there now, you think there is no way you could do such a thing, but right now you are an individual with social chains binding both the darkest evil and the brightest good in your heart. You can’t truly predict what would happen if the three ingredients of deindividuation were added to your consciousness – anonymity, group size and arousal.
Source: John Giles/Guardian UK
Super arousal can come from a stirring speech, a mind-melting concert with an intense light show, a dangerous enemy pressing forward on your position or any number of things which get your attention and then won’t let it go. Chanting, singing, dancing and other ritualistic, repetitive group activities are particularly effective at focusing your attention and distracting you from the boundaries of your head and body. Your focus and emotional response builds and builds until the fragile container holding your persona shatters, and not only do your emotions diffuse among the many, but so do your morals and sense of responsibility toward your actions. You no longer feel accountable for your deeds, good or bad, but instead imagine a future in which the group will be praised or blamed for what you did together. It is at this point when you feel fully anonymous. The finely crafted individuality you usually enjoy is suppressed, and the cues from your environment steer you and the others in your group. If you are at Woodstock in 1969, you may feel saturated with love and belonging and come away from the experience with a sense of wonder and joy in addition whatever else you end up putting in your body. If you are at Woodstock in 1999, you may feel enraged and aggressive and come away from the experience with broken ribs and a felony conviction. In each situation, a giant crowd of people followed the natural path to deindividuation. They became super aroused, lost their selves and then went with the cues from their environment.
Deindividuation is usually promoted in any organization where it is important to reduce inhibition and get you to do things you might not do alone. Soldiers and police don uniforms, warriors wear paint, football players wear jerseys, gangs have colors and dances and rituals. Businesses spend millions on team building in an effort to instill a deindividualized sense of worth. Parties thrown by fraternities and sororities have more potential to get out of hand than a party where no one feels absorbed by a group or protected by its norms.
Deindividuation takes away your inhibitions as well as your sense of self and fear of accountability, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The same force which brings otherwise rational people to loot and vandalize and invade Poland can also lead to prosocial behaviors. If you are surrounded by positive cues, deindividuation could lead you to work harder in an exercise class, or pitch in at a homeless shelter, or help build a house. People who forget their sense of self and work together to save a life or search for a missing child show deindividuation is a neutral force of the human will. When 4Chan or Digg or Reddit assemble into an anonymous collective to exact revenge it often ends in actual justice. Once deindividuation kicks in, the cues from the environment shape the resulting behavior. The norms of the mob, good or evil, replace the norms of everyday life.
Robert D. Johnson at Arkansas State and Leslie Downing showed in 1979 how manipulating environmental cues could change the behavior of deindividualized people. Their study was much like Zimbardo’s in which subjects were instructed to shock other people trying to learn a task. In their study, the people delivering the shocks wore either Ku Klux Klan robes or nurse’s uniforms. The subjects in the KKK costumes shocked more than control groups, and those in nurse’s uniforms shocked less. Psychologists Steven Prentiss Dunn and C. B. Spivey showed in a series of studies in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s a deindividualized person could be swayed to donate more money than normal if the cues in their environment were prosocial. The deindividuation which occurs at the Super Bowl, the church sermon, the prison riot and the revolutionary uprising is the same – the behavior which follows is not.
Keep in mind how prone you are to deindividuation and in what situations you are most susceptible to it. Anything from binge drinking to singing Baptist hymns can decrease your awareness of self. Add to this the diffusion of responsibility and anonymity which comes from being within a group, living in a large city, sitting in a darkened room or wearing a mask, and all it takes is a heightened state of arousal for you to become permeable, vulnerable to whatever cues grab your attention.
Know too that chat rooms, comment threads and message boards are perfect breeding grounds for deindividuality. The more anonymity a user is allowed, the more powerful the effect of being protected by the group. The tone and tenor of the conversations therein and the meatspace ramications of their collective efforts will reflect the cues provided by the website.
Deindividuation pervades virtual worlds, and the results are mixed. Download “Second Life” and take a stroll. Sooner or later you’ll end up in a sex dungeon. Play any game on Xbox Live, and someone will eventually claim to have carnal knowledge of your mother. You can thank anonymity and deindividuation for both. The comments under a Youtube video may make you weep for the species, but just click over to the entry on the humanzee in Wikipedia for restoration. It is consistent with the world outside the machine. The same force which built and maintained concentration camps also pushed soldiers onto Omaha Beach.
If you want to promote deindividuation for a good cause either in the analog world or a digital one, help people in your group feel safe from judgment and provide prosocial cues. If instead you want to discourage deindividuation in yourself and others, you must eliminate anonymity and avoid dehumanizing labels. The more you feel personal accountability, the more restraint you will show.
If nothing else, remember if you want to throw a badass party where inhibitions fade and hijinks ensue, turn down the lights, turn up the music and, if appropriate, wear costumes.
You Are Not So Smart – The Book
If you buy one book this year…well, I suppose you should get something you’ve had your eye on for a while. But, if you buy two or more books this year, might I recommend one of them be a celebration of self delusion? Give the gift of humility (to yourself or someone else you love). Watch the trailer.
Hyperbolic discounting, procrastination, outsmart procrastination rather than denying it.
The Misconception: You procrastinate because you are lazy and can’t manage your time well.
The Truth: Procrastination is fueled by weakness in the face of impulse and a failure to think about thinking.
Netflix reveals something about your own behavior you should have noticed by now, something which keeps getting between you and the things you want to accomplish.
If you have Netflix, especially if you stream it to your TV, you tend to gradually accumulate a cache of hundreds of films you think you’ll watch one day. This is a bigger deal than you think.
Take a look at your queue. Why are there so damn many documentaries and dramatic epics collecting virtual dust in there? By now you could draw the cover art to “Dead Man Walking” from memory. Why do you keep passing over it?
Psychologists actually know the answer to this question, to why you keep adding movies you will never watch to your growing collection of future rentals, and it is the same reason you believe you will eventually do what’s best for yourself in all the other parts of your life, but rarely do.
A study conducted in 1999 by Read, Loewenstein and Kalyanaraman had people pick three movies out of a selection of 24. Some were lowbrow like “Sleepless in Seattle” or “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Some were highbrow like “Schindler’s List” or “The Piano.” In other words, it was a choice between movies which promised to be fun and forgettable or would be memorable but require more effort to absorb.
After picking, the subjects had to watch one movie right away. They then had to watch another in two days and a third two days after that.
Most people picked Schindler’s List as one of their three. They knew it was a great movie because all their friends said it was. All the reviews were glowing, and it earned dozens of the highest awards. Most didn’t, however, choose to watch it on the first day.
Instead, people tended to pick lowbrow movies on the first day. Only 44 percent went for the heavier stuff first. The majority tended to pick comedies like “The Mask” or action flicks like “Speed” when they knew they had to watch it forthwith.
Planning ahead, people picked highbrow movies 63 percent of the time for their second movie and 71 percent of the time for their third.
When they ran the experiment again but told subjects they had to watch all three selections back-to-back, “Schindler’s List” was 13 times less likely to be chosen at all.
Yes, this is my queue
The researchers had a hunch people would go for the junk food first, but plan healthy meals in the future.
Many studies over the years have shown you tend to have time-inconsistent preferences. When asked if you would rather have fruit or cake one week from now, you will usually say fruit. A week later when the slice of German chocolate and the apple are offered, you are statistically more likely to go for the cake.
This is why your Netflix queue is full of great films you keep passing over for “Family Guy.” With Netflix, the choice of what to watch right now and what to watch later is like candy bars versus carrot sticks. When you are planning ahead, your better angels point to the nourishing choices, but in the moment you go for what tastes good.
As behavioral economist Katherine Milkman has pointed out, this is why grocery stores put candy right next to the checkout.
This is sometimes called present bias – being unable to grasp what you want will change over time, and what you want now isn’t the same thing you will want later. Present bias explains why you buy lettuce and bananas only to throw them out later when you forget to eat them. This is why when you are a kid you wonder why adults don’t own more toys.
Present bias is why you’ve made the same resolution for the tenth year in a row, but this time you mean it. You are going to lose weight and forge a six-pack of abs so ripped you could deflect arrows.
You weigh yourself. You buy a workout DVD. You order a set of weights.
One day you have the choice between running around the block or watching a movie, and you choose the movie. Another day you are out with friends and can choose a cheeseburger or a salad. You choose the cheeseburger.
The slips become more frequent, but you keep saying you’ll get around to it. You’ll start again on Monday, which becomes a week from Monday. Your will succumbs to a death by a thousand cuts. By the time winter comes it looks like you already know what your resolution will be the next year.
Procrastination manifests itself within every aspect of your life.
Photo by Ron J Anejo
You wait until the last minute to buy Christmas presents. You put off seeing the dentist, or getting that thing checked out by the doctor, or filing your taxes. You forget to register to vote. You need to get an oil change. There is a pile of dishes getting higher in the kitchen. Shouldn’t you wash clothes now so you don’t have to waste a Sunday cleaning every thing you own?
Perhaps the stakes are higher than choosing to play Angry Birds instead of doing sit-ups. You might have a deadline for a grant proposal, or a dissertation, or a book.
You’ll get around to it. You’ll start tomorrow. You’ll take the time to learn a foreign language, to learn how to play an instrument. There’s a growing list of books you will read one day.
Before you do though, maybe you should check your email. You should head over to Facebook too, just to get it out of the way. A cup of coffee would probably get you going, it won’t take long to go grab one. Maybe just a few episodes of that show you like.
You keep promising yourself this will be the year you do all these things. You know your life would improve if you would just buckle down and put forth the effort.
You can try to fight it back. You can buy a daily planner and a to-do list application for your phone. You can write yourself notes and fill out schedules. You can become a productivity junkie surrounded by instruments to make life more efficient, but these tools alone will not help, because the problem isn’t you are a bad manager of your time – you are a bad tactician in the war inside your brain.
Procrastination is such a pervasive element of the human experience there are over 600 books for sale promising to snap you out of your bad habits, and this year alone 120 new books on the topic were published. Obviously this is a problem everyone admits to, so why is it so hard to defeat?
To explain, consider the power of marshmallows.
Walter Mischel conducted experiments at Stanford University throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s in which he and his researchers offered a bargain to children.
The kids sat at a table in front of a bell and some treats. They could pick a pretzel, a cookie or a giant marshmallow. They told the little boys and girls they could either eat the treat right away or wait a few minutes. If they waited, they would double their payoff and get two treats. If they couldn’t wait, they had to ring the bell after which the researcher would end the experiment.
Some made no attempt at self-control and just ate right away. Others stared intensely at the object of their desire until they gave in to temptation. Many writhed in agony, twisting their hands and feet while looking away. Some made silly noises.
In the end, a third couldn’t resist.
What started as an experiment about delayed gratification has now, decades later, yielded a far more interesting set of revelations about metacognition – thinking about thinking.
Mischel has followed the lives of all his subjects through high-school, college and into adulthood where they accumulated children, mortgages and jobs.
The revelation from this research is kids who were able to overcome their desire for short-term reward in favor of a better outcome later weren’t smarter than the other kids, nor were they less gluttonous. They just had a better grasp of how to trick themselves into doing what was best for them.
They watched the wall instead of looking at the food. They tapped their feet instead of smelling the confection. The wait was torture for all, but some knew it was going to be impossible to just sit there and stare at the delicious, gigantic marshmallow without giving in.
The younger the child, the worse they were at metacognition. Any parent can tell you little kids aren’t the best at self-control. Among the older age groups some were better at devising schemes for avoiding their own weak wills, and years later seem to have been able to use that power to squeeze more out of life.
“Once Mischel began analyzing the results, he noticed that low delayers, the children who rang the bell quickly, seemed more likely to have behavioral problems, both in school and at home. They got lower S.A.T. scores. They struggled in stressful situations, often had trouble paying attention, and found it difficult to maintain friendships. The child who could wait fifteen minutes had an S.A.T. score that was, on average, two hundred and ten points higher than that of the kid who could wait only thirty seconds.”
- Jonah Lehrer from his piece in the New Yorker, “Don’t”
Thinking about thinking, this is the key. In the struggle between should versus want, some people have figured out something crucial – want never goes away.
Procrastination is all about choosing want over should because you don’t have a plan for those times when you can expect to be tempted.
You are really bad at predicting your future mental states. In addition, you are terrible at choosing between now or later. Later is murky place where anything could go wrong.
If I were to offer you $50 now or $100 in a year, which would you take? Clearly, you’ll take the $50 now. After all, who knows what could happen in a year, right?
Ok, so what if I instead offered you $50 in five years or $100 in six years? Nothing has changed other than adding a delay, but now it feels just as natural to wait for the $100. After all, you already have to wait a long time.
A being of pure logic would think, “more is more,” and pick the higher amount every time, but you aren’t a being of pure logic. Faced with two possible rewards, you are more likely to take the one which you can enjoy now over one you will enjoy later – even if the later reward is far greater.
In the moment, rearranging the folders on your computer seems a lot more rewarding than some task due in a month which might cost you your job or your diploma, so you wait until the night before.
If you considered which would be more valuable in a month – continuing to get your paycheck or having an immaculate desktop – you would pick the greater reward.
The tendency to get more rational when you are forced to wait is called hyperbolic discounting because your dismissal of the better payoff later diminishes over time and makes a nice slope on a graph.
Evolutionarily it makes sense to always go for the sure bet now; your ancestors didn’t have to think about retirement or heart disease. Your brain evolved in a world where you probably wouldn’t live to meet your grandchildren. The stupid monkey part of your brain wants to gobble up candy bars and go deeply into debt. Old you, if there even is one, can deal with those things.
Hyperbolic discounting makes later an easy place to throw all the things don’t want to deal with, but you also over-commit to future plans for the same reason. You run out of time to get things done because you think in the future, that mysterious fantastical realm of possibilities, you’ll have more free time than you do now.
“The future is always ideal: The fridge is stocked, the weather clear, the train runs on schedule and meetings end on time. Today, well, stuff happens.”
- Hara Estroff Marano in Psychology Today
One of the best ways to see how bad you are at coping with procrastination is to notice how you deal with deadlines.
Let’s imagine you are in a class where you must complete three research papers in three weeks, and the instructor is willing to allow you to set your own due dates.
You can choose to turn in your papers once a week, or two on the first week and one on the second. You can turn them all in on the last day, or you can spread them out. You could even choose to turn in all three at the end of the first week and be done. It’s up to you, but once you pick you have to stick with your choice. If you miss your deadlines, you get a big fat zero.
How would you pick?
The most rational choice would be the last day for every paper. It gives you plenty of time to work hard on all three and turn in the best possible work. This seems like a wise choice, but you are not so smart.
The same choice was offered to a selection of students in a 2002 study conducted by Klaus Wertenbroch and Dan Ariely.
They set up three classes, and each had three weeks to finish three papers. Class A had to turn in all three papers on the last day of class, Class B had to pick three different deadlines and stick to them, and Class C had to turn in one paper a week.
Which class had the better grades?
Class C, the one with three specific deadlines, did the best. Class B, which had to pick deadlines ahead of time but had complete freedom, did the second best, and the group whose only deadline was the last day, Class A, did the worst.
Students who could pick any three deadlines tended to spread them out at about one week apart on their own. They knew they would procrastinate, so they set up zones in which they would be forced to perform. Still, overly optimistic outliers who either waited until the last minute or chose unrealistic goals pulled down the overall class grade.
Students with no guidelines at all tended to put off their work until the last week for all three papers.
The ones who had no choice and were forced to spread out their procrastination did the best because the outliers were eliminated. Those people who weren’t honest with themselves about their own tendencies to put off their work or who were too confident didn’t have a chance to fool themselves.
Interestingly, these results suggest that although almost everyone has problems with procrastination, those who recognize and admit their weakness are in a better position to utilize available tools for precommitment and by doing so, help themselves overcome it.
- Dan Ariely, from his book “Predictably Irrational”
If you fail to believe you will procrastinate or become idealistic about how awesome you are at working hard and managing your time you never develop a strategy for outmaneuvering your own weakness.
Procrastination is an impulse; it’s buying candy at the checkout. Procrastination is also hyperbolic discounting, taking the sure thing in the present over the caliginous prospect some day far away.
You must be adept at thinking about thinking to defeat yourself at procrastination. You must realize there is the you who sits there now reading this, and there is a you sometime in the future who will be influenced by a different set of ideas and desires, a you in a different setting where an alternate palette of brain functions will be available for painting reality.
The now you may see the costs and rewards at stake when it comes time to choose studying for the test instead of going to the club, eating the salad instead of the cupcake, writing the article instead of playing the video game.
Ulysses and the Sirens by Herbert James Draper
The trick is to accept the now you will not be the person facing those choices, it will be the future you – a person who can’t be trusted. Future-you will give in, and then you’ll go back to being now-you and feel weak and ashamed. Now-you must trick future-you into doing what is right for both parties.
This is why food plans like Nutrisystem work for many people. Now-you commits to spending a lot of money on a giant box of food which future-you will have to deal with. People who get this concept use programs like Freedom, which disables Internet access on a computer for up to eight hours, a tool allowing now-you to make it impossible for future-you to sabotage your work.
Capable psychonauts who think about thinking, about states of mind, about set and setting, can get things done not because they have more will power, more drive, but because they know productivity is a game of cat and mouse versus a childish primal human predilection for pleasure and novelty which can never be excised from the soul. Your effort is better spent outsmarting yourself than making empty promises through plugging dates into a calendar or setting deadlines for push ups.
You Are Not So Smart – The Book
If you buy one book this year…well, I suppose you should get something you’ve had your eye on for a while. But, if you buy two or more books this year, might I recommend one of them be a celebration of self delusion? Give the gift of humility (to yourself or someone else you love). Watch the trailer.
In the last couple of years, it seems that Fashion Week is only about designers, bloggers, models and editors. This season, I thought it would be fun to turn the camera on the faces of fashion that you don’t always hear about.
A little girl disappears under her bed. A man is trapped in a world of the ravenous undead. A driver is hunted by a murderous 18-wheeler. A hat no longer fits. There's something on the wing of the plane. The works of Richard Matheson—the author who died yesterday at the age of 87—are the nightmares and ghost stories of generations, the influence that launched dozens of careers, and the shaping impulse behind some of the most basic building blocks of modern genre fiction.
He wrote about haunted houses, shrinking men, optimistic aliens, time travel, the afterlife, and—for all its two-fisted clunkiness—his prose had a feverish intensity that made its hooks hard to ignore. And through it all, a model persisted: the belief that logic and perseverance could be used to beat back the forces of darkness. Matheson's protagonists didn't always win, but when ...
Need to consider reading some of the books mentioned.
We’ve further expanded the definition of AVQ&A—our Monday and Friday discussion prompts—by asking you (and two of our regular contributors) a simple question once per month: What have you read in the past month, or what are you currently reading? If you have suggestions for AVQ&A questions, big or small, you can e-mail them to us here.
June was a big month for highly anticipated book releases. The first of two Stephen King books due out this year, Joyland, arrived from Hard Case Crime. Fantasy giant Neil Gaiman returned with The Ocean At The End Of The Lane, his first novel since 2009’s The Graveyard Book, and the author is currently finishing what he’s calling his “final U.S. signing tour” in support of it. Colum McCann’s newest offering, TransAtlantic, which follows his 2009 National Book Award win for Let The Great ...