(the) eye on the fame game: countersurveillance and the online social climber.

March 9, 2010

These days it seems that fame, talent, and hard work are all mutually exclusive. In the age of the internet, we are forever coming closer to a world that might resemble that of the new SyFy series, Caprica, where more people live their lives in a virtual world than in the real one. It used to be you could find fame through a brilliant combination of talent, hard work, and luck (for some, sleeping their way to the top worked as well), but these days, some people, lets call them online social climbers (OSC), think that all they need is plenty of online exposure, and the right combination of “friends” and “enemies” (for some, sleeping their way to the top works as well). So how can you spot these OSCs? Utilize your spy skills with some good old fashioned surveillance. Consider me your source in counterintelligence.

ACQUIRING YOUR TARGET

It is pretty easy to spot an OSC; you’ve heard their name and you don’t know why, you’ve seen their picture on someone’s social networking site, yet you can’t figure out what exactly it is they DO (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, there is a chance you are one of the few pure souls out there and I would implore you to not go looking for them, it won’t enhance your life in any way, shape, or form). Once you have acquired your target, google their name and I’m sure you will find links to their Virtual World (VW); twitter, facebook, myspace, formspring, buzznet, blog, website. Congratulations, you are ready to gather intelligence.

ANALYZING THE DATA

First off, be sure you have the OFFICIAL site belonging to the OSC in question. There are plenty of dummy sites out there, created by impersonators hoping that they might reap some of the beneficial ‘good feelings’ of faux fame. To make sure it is OFFICIAL, check for a banner that says OFFICIAL. If that isn’t available, you can always see if mobile uploads are available for the site you are perusing. Chances are that the real person is uploading directly from their phone (of course there are simple ways around this, but most people don’t get too in depth with their scams/frauds).

Once you have established that you do, in fact, have the “target in your site” (see what I did there?) it is time to analyze the data. Check for inconsistencies within their VW. Each social networking site caters to a different group of friends and/or ‘scene’ that the OSC is interested in obtaining fans from. Looking to grab that admiration of hipsters, creeps, and music fans? Create a VW within myspace and buzznet (and come on people, I’m not saying that everyone that uses these sites are the above mentioned, but you can’t deny there are a lot of them…). How about those artsy intellectuals? Photo/blogs! My point here being that sometimes you will find inconsistencies in their ‘favorites’ or ‘interests’ as the OSC is catering to a variety of people. This is just the world of online marketing. Of course the inconsistencies won’t be out of control; they have to be careful not to alienate a fan that may fall within two categories. It needs to look authentic enough to make everyone believe they simply have a wide range of interests.

BURNED

The point that I am making is this: if you are an online social climber, eventually your cover will get blown and you will be exposed. The world of online fame is short-lived, it is virtually a scam (did you see it? did you see what I did again?). There is still no replacement for talent and hard work. I am not trying to take anyone down, that isn’t my mission. I am not trying to say that the online community is evil or anything of the sort. Hell, I have sites on most social networks (I’m on a roll here…evil…hell…forget it). However, the difference between the everyday social networker and the OSC is intent and the end game. They believe that because of how many ‘followers’ or ‘friends’ they have, they are “famous” in today’s world (which, let’s face it, in some circles they are the new breed of fame) and are entitled to certain privileges in the “real world.” While the “perks” of fame (in general) is a whole other discussion, I would categorically say that anyone who is void of any real talent or profession, who relies solely on their virtual celebrity, should not be privy to any special treatments in the “real world.”

YOUR MISSION

We may be getting closer to a Caprica world, but we aren’t there yet. Make sure your ‘idols’ actually contribute something and enhance your life; make sure the requirement for talent and hard work doesn’t disappear. This is your mission. Don’t let the “real world” die.

DISCLAIMER: Remember, this post is about people who take advantage of online celebrity, not celebrities who host sites online. This post is about people who feel entitled and better than everyone else in the “real world” because of their popularity in the VW. This post is about people who try to use their online celebrity to take down and slander the names of actual hard-working people. Feel free to comment.

Ps.com sorry, the names of anyone I may or may not consider OSC is EARS ONLY knowledge.

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how to survive when your cover is blown.

March 7, 2010

Hollywood is filled with spies, confidence men (and women), liars, cheats, tricks, thieves, and beautiful people. When you enter Hollywood, you become a part of the social espionage. Everyone lies. You create a cover identity and begin to spin your own web of lies and try to avoid the paths of destruction that so many people leave in their wake. So what happens when your cover is blown? If you’re smart and have done your homework you should be able to stay one step ahead. The best way to stay in control? Blow your own cover.

MISSION FAILURE

Sometimes, even when planned to the last detail, a mission goes awry. You cannot predict the actions of others. The only thing you can do is be as prepared as possible for all possible outcomes. How does one accomplish this? Make sure you are aware of your contact’s, CI’s and mark’s weaknesses as well as strengths. You can utilize their weaknesses to your advantage to acquire whatever information you need. If you know their strengths you will be better equipped to protect yourself from any surprises they may try to throw your direction. Most importantly remember, always have an exit strategy.

MISSION SUCCESS

Once you have successfully accomplished your mission, get out and move on. Don’t risk further exposure by continuing relationships. As long as you exit cleanly, you may be able to utilize your cover identity on a future mission if need be. A successful mission is marked when you get the intelligence you require without getting burned. Don’t forget to remember your exit story, because if you forget it, chances are they won’t.

TRUST THE LIES, NOT THE “TRUTH”

So how does any of this pertain to “real life?” Every one of us is, at one point or another, caught in some web of social lies. We all have our true, real friends, party friends, work friends, and people we keep in our lives because it is mutually beneficial to have them around. You will catch people in lies, and eventually, someone will catch you in yours. What do you do about it and how do we salvage the truth? I love the phrase in the photo above, because it is very true to hollywood. Many times, you have to trust the lies, not the “truth” because the “truth” people give you is a lie. Have you ever told someone the truth and they accuse you of lying to their face….just because it either sounds so outrageous it couldn’t be real, because they are so used to people lying to them, or someone else has told them a lie that contradicts you? Some people just can’t believe you could be one of the rare and honest few (Let’s face it, as I’ve stated before, we all lie to someone at some point).

CATCHING A SPY IN A LIE

You have two choices when you catch someone in a lie; decide that it doesn’t matter in the long run and leave it be, or confront them with it. Never under any circumstances, involve a third party. This will just get you into trouble in the end (the only exception being if they are a party to the lie themselves, or you need them to complete your mission). If you confront them and they continue the charade, it is time to decide again, can you put this behind you, or is it time to move on?

WHEN YOUR COVER IS BLOWN

You have a few choices to make when your own cover is blown in “real life.” Confess, or escape. If you decide to continue with your charade, you will get caught, and the consequences will be worse for you in the long run. The more lies you tell, the easier it is to get them confused and the more people you will involve and hurt.  If you cannot, for whatever reason, swallow your pride and apologize to the people you’ve wronged, then be prepared to get out and don’t look back. This isn’t a Hollywood movie, it’s Hollywood “real life;” you don’t have a team of people with guns and bulletproof vests waiting to back you up, you only have yourself. As I said when I began this post, the best way to survive a web of lies is to blow your own cover. Find a time and a way to admit to the lies before you are caught so that it goes down on your terms.

“Trust me,” it is the only way for a spy to survive in this town.

*disclaimer: this post is not directed towards, nor is it about, anyone in particular.


code breaking and social espionage.

February 25, 2010

In the age of social networking, it’s easy to be a social spy. There are stalker feeds everywhere, letting you know the exact mood and location of your “friend” or…”target.” Let’s face it, these days we have transcended good old fashion friendships and are all actively engaged in social espionage. Friends and lovers meet online, people plan their activities via twitter or facebook updates. Instead of calling each other, we @reply. Gone are the days when you had to actually come face to face and have an argument in private. Now we publicly humiliate or ‘call each other out’ via twitter and facebook updates. So how do we navigate our friendships via social networking? What are the new codes we have to live by in a technologically savvy world?

CODES

“Bros before Hoes.” “Chicks before Dicks.” We all know the rules of friendship. You don’t date your best friend’s EX, or sibling, and you don’t make friends with your best friend’s enemy (unless it is an undercover mission). These codes haven’t changed. It’s how we deal with the code breakers and attempt to sneak around that’s changed. With social media at the forefront, you have to be careful who you are publicly chatting it up with. Before, you could hide a friendship, or a relationship…Now, it is virtually impossible. Facebook wants to know your relationship status. Twitter wants to know who you are with at all times. Myspace wants your photos together (preferably in front of a mirror). Of course, if your friends are smart, or internet savvy, you will get caught. Even if you are super careful, one small slip, an @reply where it doesn’t belong, a comment a bit too specific…..you now have to incur the wrath of the social networking feud.

INTELLIGENCE GATHERING

All you need to know about your enemy or frenemy is out there. Twitter. Facebook. Myspace. Formspring. Blogs. Waiting for you to utilize it. For the most part, every social networking site has a privacy setting, to protect against unwanted stalking. Fortunately for you, the people you most likely want to know about haven’t set their status’ to private, because they want attention, they crave the drama. Or, they are a frenemy. You don’t even have to do the legwork anymore; the ‘newsfeeds’ do it for you. Updating you on everything you want to (or don’t want to) know (Don’t forget about screen captures for documentation if things get scary with actual stalkers).

SOCIAL ESPIONAGE

There are several options that your ‘frenemy’ may take. Let’s take a look at some brilliant friend-war tools available thanks to social networking:

De-Friending. Here we have the ever popular ‘friendship deletion.’ This, in my opinion, is juvenile and cowardly when it precedes any actual face to face conversation. Go ahead, delete me from  your page instead of growing the fuck up and talking to me. Do I really care to read your status updates and see your mobile updates? You are the one deleting me, not the other way around dear (Of course, if they were smart they would realize they may want to stalk you in the future, and wouldn’t dare deprive themselves of access to your page).

Twitter Rage. This is a popular one. I’ve seen more people tweet about their shitty ex boyfriend/girlfriend or shitty friendships than I have any other topic. If there is pure unadulterated (or adulterated….get it?) rage involved, you will see an @reply to the “target,” making sure that all of the “twitrager’s” followers are aware of the injustice done unto them. If they plan on forgiving, or further using, the “target” you won’t know who their rage/hurt is aimed at, but by golly you best feel sorry for their pain! After all, isn’t that why they tweeted about it?

Anonymous Bashing. Thanks to formspring.me, enemies now have the luxury of posting anonymous ‘questions’ and ‘comments’ about a person they have hatred or jealousy towards. If you are smart, a) you don’t care what this anonymous person has to say about you, and b) you don’t respond. The whole point was to get a rise out of you, or get you to say something stupid publicly on the internet. However, if you are dumb enough to answer and play along with their shit, maybe you deserve the aftermath. Now, here is where the real spies can engage in intelligent espionage. Go ahead and answer, if you are wise to who it is, or have an endgame that requires your words being printed with a timestamp and date. How else can  you bring a true crazy down without documented proof? Just word your responses carefully, there is no need to get yourself in any deeper than necessary.

MISSION COMPLETE

The easiest way to avoid friendship faux pas in the era of social networks? Be a good friend. Wow, that seems so simple. Be honest, be true, and be there for your friends when they need you (you may have to check their status update or twitter feed to know when something’s up, so be sure to check regularly). Oh, and please, be careful when mixing alcohol and status updates 😉 That delete button may provide some virtual erasure, but it doesn’t delete the sentiment from the universe or your target.


trust and distrust: the foundation of our lives.

February 15, 2010

Spy vs. Spy. Trust vs. Distrust. The only person a spy can trust is him/herself. However, I am inclined to say this pertains to everyone, not just covert operatives. Trust and distrust are the foundation of every relationship we have in our lives. Trust is an indication that you are willing to let down your guard, become vulnerable in the face of another. For many people, like myself, it takes years to build up, and a moment to shatter. Some might say it is wrong to live my life sitting on a blanket of distrust, but for those that earn it, I will be loyal to the end. Just don’t forget that it is much easier to lose trust, than gain it.

I find those that trust without caution both foolish and naive. Almost everyone has ulterior motives in life. Or maybe I’ve just fallen under the jaded sun of Hollywood for too long.  I have very few people in this world that I would trust with my life, very few people know my inner most secrets. It is in my nature to distrust, or is it? I can trace back friendships as far as I know where I let them in, and was thrown to the curb; and with each person that breaks my trust (and with it my heart), it is harder for the next to earn it. I am lucky to have some people in my life that I do, until that trust is broken. I can only hope that I will one day overcome the immense distrust I hold over the world.

Life can get messy when it comes to the entanglement of trust and the heart. The two are so closely related, because without trust, you can’t have true love. You can love many, but you will not trust all that you love. How can you give all of yourself, and by all I refer to the emotional, vulnerable connection between two people, without trusting the other person? Truth is, you can’t.

I’ve pretty much gone in circles with this post. You are my sounding board. This is my microphone.

In the word’s of the illustrious William Shakespeare, “Love all. Trust Few.”


fear and failure.

January 15, 2010

I was watching How I Met Your Mother, and this time around Ted was the one with the “I must write about this” gem. He says, “The longer I put off starting my own firm, the longer it can remain a dream, and not something I screwed up at. I mean, It’s like I’m giving up before I’ve even started.”

We’ve all done this. How many of us are still doing it? Giving up on our dreams, or at least putting them off until LATER in order to keep them just that- dreams. Something that we can hope to “one day achieve.” The problem is, the longer we put them off, the more difficult it becomes to get started. Fear sets in. It becomes, “God forbid, what if I…FAIL!?!”

FEAR

Fear is lessened through confrontation. I’m not even sure it can ever truly be conquered. For someone who is afraid of heights, skydiving is a brave and daring act. You may even enjoy it after the first jump, but it doesn’t mean you won’t be afraid the next time you go up….but you will be stronger. So what do we do? Keep jumping. Until the fear becomes so miniscule that it isn’t the first thought to register, but rather the second or third, or even the last.

FAILURE

We all fear failure. Ever since that little league game when they stopped handing out the ‘participation trophies’ and the other team started to gloat. When our parents or coaches berated us for poor grades, or losing a game. Success and failure are tied to our feelings of self-worth. It’s a part of being human. You can’t escape it. However, we can CONFRONT IT. Head on. We keep our dreams at bay so that we don’t have to experience that fear every day. Though without it, we would never truly appreciate the feeling of success. The longer you wait, the harder it gets. Eventually it will be too late.

DREAMS

I want to act. All my friends and family know this….I’m confident in my training and my talent. Perhaps the only thing I am truly confident in. Yet I can’t seem to get my ass out of the apartment to find myself an agent. Excuses, excuses, excuses galore! I need money, I need new headshots, I’m not ready…blah blah blah blah blah. It’s fear. Fear of failure. If I never get out there, I can never ‘truly fail.’ The longer I wait, the older I get, the harder it gets, the more likely I am to NEVER achieve my dreams.

It’s easy to sit back and hold on to that dream. It’s easy to stay in your comfort zone, surrounded by friends and family, going through the motions of life. It can even be fun, entertaining, livable. But do you want to live a life that is ‘livable’ or ‘incredible?’ You have to take risks in order to realize your dreams. You have to pursue them actively, not a little bit this month, a little bit the next….a little bit each day.

WAKE UP

Don’t put off your dream job, or dream life. It’s out there for you, but you have to be the one to go out and get it. If that means getting a shitty job for 4 months just to save enough money to move somewhere new, do it. If that means giving up your nights of drinking and partying, do it. Your true friends will still be there waiting for you when you come back. If that means compromising, do it. If it means getting up at 4 am to ‘write’ or ‘practice’ before your shitty mundane job, do it. Yes- enjoy life. But if you cannot ‘follow your dreams’ because you don’t want to give up having fun, maybe you need to look at your definition of what it means to ‘enjoy life.’ Because there are plenty of people out there LIVING YOUR DREAM right now, and it’s possible they are enjoying it a bit more than you.

Moral of this post- Don’t live in fear of what may or may not happen. Otherwise, you will never truly live at all.


abstraction of time.

January 15, 2010

I am currently reading Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time,” and although I am only one chapter in, it has already begun to make clear questions that were previously muddled in my mind. Not answers, but questions. I have recently become increasingly interested in the concept of ‘time’ and ‘spacetime.’ Though my interest in these subjects go back much further, I can categorically say that Family Guy’s “Road to the Multiverse” episode had a lot to do with my current fascination. Of course while I do wish there was a “Disney Universe” in which I could travel, I know this is sadly not the case. However, the concept of a multiverse is completely logical, and most likely exists. I picked up “A Brief History of Time” this evening and have just put it down to collect my initial thoughts. (*side note, Stephen Hawking has admitted to incorrect information scattered throughout the book and has since published “A Briefer History of Time” but I have yet to purchase it….)

Anyway, on to my questions. This post is in no way an answer to anything, more like a forum for my own brain to sift through ideas and concepts. Of course, I always welcome opinion and shared knowledge, it is, in fact, the only way we grow and learn. Feel free to ‘answer’ or ‘attempt to answer’ any questions I pose.

The hardest part in fully understanding or conceptualizing cosmology and the history of the universe is due to our (as humans) need to label and make tangible, or linguistic sense out of abstract ideas. For instance “time.” How could “time” exist before the beginning of…well…time? In describing the beginning of the Universe Hawking states, “One may say that time had a beginning at the big bang, in the sense that earlier times simply would not be defined.” The big bang, as we all remember from grade school, was the beginning of the universe when it was “infinitesimally small and infinitely dense.” We understand that the universe is expanding, and so we can say that ‘time’ had its beginning when the universe did. Of course, if you are similar to me, you try to picture the beginning and wonder, ‘well what came “before” the beginning?’ This is the problem we will continue to have until the “end of time” (if one exists, spacetime loops and compact spacetime pockets are theories that I, for one, hope actually exist) due to our inability to visualize abstractions. Now the question becomes, is the ‘beginning’ really an abstraction, or just something we don’t fully understand…yet? Is that question abstract enough for you?

At one point in chapter one, Hawking names the ultimate goal of science as the development of one unifying theory of everything; one single theory to explain existence and the universe. He identifies the two current, and contradictory, theories, “the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.” There are “breakthroughs” in each school of thought every day by the world’s leading intellectual minds, and each day we get closer to a unifying idea, if one even exists. However, there remains another theory, and much of humanity will demand its inclusion, that of a religious nature. Where does spirituality and God play into any of this? For me the question arises because lately I have been equally fascinated by the idea of reincarnation and the concept of the soul. Of course I have no answers, I have no firm belief in the idea, but it becomes an interesting layer to add to the discussion. If the Universe is expanding, if string and M theories are correct, if other parallel universes exist, if compact spacetime pockets exist and time travel could eventually be proven possible…where does the concept of the soul come in? To explain why we, as humanity, exist? If time, in fact, has no beginning or end, and is an abstraction in itself….are we an abstraction of time?

Now for a brief “How I Met Your Mother” break for more barney stinsonisms…then on to chapter 2…..


“i’m not jealous.”

January 15, 2010

I’m sure it’s happened to you, it’s happened to all of us. You’ve lost your job, your lover, a friend, been passed over for a promotion, or didn’t get that role. Then someone comes along, either the one who has “stolen” this elusive happiness from you, or someone connected to them- and they rub it in your face. At least, this is how we perceive it during the “mourning” period. A direct attack on us- On our abilities, our intelligence, our beauty, our self worth.

How rude.

When this occurs the first thing that goes through most people’s minds (right after, “I’ll kill a bitch….”) is something along the lines of “show no weakness! I can’t let them know I’m jealous…or hurt…or upset at all.” It is human nature to have weakness, but it is also human nature to not want to show it. So what do we do? We pretend to be better off than we are. We lie. We do everything we can to say “I’m not jealous.” The funny part is, we all do it, so it isn’t as if we are getting away with anything. In the end, the mere act of responding to whatever passing comment (or in this day and age, “posting” on a social networking site…) proves to the other party that we are in fact jealous, or hurt, or upset at all. However, we are human- we care, we have weakness, and we try our damnedest not to show it. So who is going to fault us for this? No one. We know when someone is trying to make us jealous, just as know when we are trying to make someone else jealous. Sometimes it feels good to win. We also know when we have hurt someone, just as they know when they have hurt us. So there is no shame in pretending to be better off than we are. No shame in only discussing the “positive, happy” aspects of our lives through the pain. “Proving” our strength to the other party, in fact, assists us in proving our strength to ourselves.

In the end, we are all stronger than we think we are.

jack N box