Thanks for nothing

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Why we shouldn’t give credit unless credit is due

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. September 16, 2015

Now and then we find ourselves sending praise to someone who doesn’t deserve it. This tends to happen in environments where you have to work as a team or as an ensemble. It seems when bad work is done, blame is passed around and fingers are pointed. That’s a destructive attitude, solving nothing. Alternatively, the reverse problem is as bad. It seems that slackers in a group with success would also join in and receive praise. I believe the second scenario can be as harmful as the first.

Riding on the coattails of others is a survival strategy that should have been eradicated at some point during human evolution. We all know someone who does the bare minimum, or little to nothing, and allows others around him or her to pick up the slack. The same way you would cut out a cancerous tumour, you should do the same for that member of the team.

They might be nice, kind-hearted, or have some positive trait. They might have personal issues that stop them from excellence. Regardless, you want to give them the benefit of the doubt and help them along. Still, nothing is more infuriating than someone getting praise for work they didn’t do.

There is a Douglas Coupland quote from the novel Hey Nostradamus! that has always stuck with me: “[I] was raised to believe that the opposite of labor is theft, not leisure.”

The person who doesn’t perform is essentially stealing from the collective. They might not be stealing anything tangible and in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter, but if you allow them to take what isn’t theirs, you are feeding a wild animal, causing them to become dependent on others. You are not helping them. You are not a charity. You are enabling a lazy attitude and that is a benefit to nobody.

One common problem, especially in a professional environment, is when a superior takes credit for work their subordinate had done. While this is indeed a bitch move, I also believe that subordinates allow this to happen by displaying weakness. We need to stand up and defend ourselves without seeming entitled or arrogant.

If you notice someone taking your work and soaking in the praise themselves, you’d need to understand that they might never see their own self-righteousness. They may be a pathological liar or a narcissistic asshole. Don’t call them out immediately, keep a record, and approach their boss. Alternatively, you can try to empathize. Ask: why do they need to lie and steal your efforts? Often it is because of their insecurities and failings. If that is the case, give it time, and be patient. If your work is good and your aim is true, you’ll shine.

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The World of Online Payments

Read full series at the Control blog: Part 1/Part 2/Part 3/ Part 4/ Part 5

Let’s embark on a trip together, shall we? In this five-part series, we’ll be exploring payment solutions around the world and discussing the cultural and technological differences that enable diversified methods of online payments.

Because the world is linked together in so many ways, one of which is the digital marketplace, it’s crucial for your business to understand how a certain demographic prefers to pay. Acknowledging your audience’s payment preference, regardless of which country or hemisphere they live on, is business intelligence that will make you fluent in the payments world.

North America: In North America, credit card is king in terms of online payments. However, there are a number of payment options rising in popularity across the continent. [Read full article here]

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South America: In South America, the middle class is rising and the unbanked and underbanked population are now accessing online payments. All this is changing commerce. [Read full article here]

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Europe: Europe is home to many different languages, buying cultures, & online payments. Each of those elements will be vital as eCommerce penetration grows. [Read full article here]

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Asia/Australia: There are two Asian markets online, one is leading the industry and the other is rising. Online payments will be the keystone for both as trends continue. [Read full article here]

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Africa: Africa is a region with fastest growing Internet penetration. Online payments, along with regulations and infrastructure, can help eCommerce thrive. [Read full article here]

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You might like me when I’m angry

Rage Room

Why the ‘rage room’ is a therapeutic blessing

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in the Other Press. September 16, 2015

We live in a society where we have to walk in line, talk politely, and eat with our mouths closed. We put so much pressure on ourselves to stay civilized that often we forget that we are animals. The way we bottle up our rage, stress, and frustration is one of the reasons why we have such an internalized, yet explosive, brand of suffering. When we erupt we do it in the most self-destructive ways: we burn bridges, sabotage ourselves, and mostly likely hurt our loved ones. Talking only does so much, writing in our journals only does so much, and even drugs and alcohol can only mute the pain temporarily. What we need is a safe environment to let it all out.

The rage room is the latest trendy stress-relief activity and I think it’s about time. Toronto has its very own, and I think Vancouver should venture into that market as well. Basically, the rage room is a confined space where you, the paid participant, can release your anger on inanimate objects. The same way dogs love to chew and cats love to scratch, humans have an innate desire to see things break and go boom.

Why not go to yoga, relax in a hot tub, or get a nice massage? If you like trendy, why not go lie down in a float spa? Why not go exercise for an hour or two to get the sweat out? While those activities will relieve stress, it offers a solution from one side of the spectrum. Relaxation has a certain flavour and destruction has a different one. It’s like wanting a White Castle burger and settling for a hotdog from Hot Dog Heaven.

Let’s say your favourite hockey team lost and you feel pissed. You don’t want to go do yoga. You want to smash this lamp here. Let’s say you found out that your ex-girlfriend is dating a richer, nicer, better-looking guy, you don’t want to read a nice book in the bathtub, you want to smash this lamp here. Of course we—controlled, well-mannered humans—never actually follow through with our destructive thoughts, but the fact that many of us have them makes me believe that we need a place to release it.

While a rage room is a fairly new concept, and may only be advertised as a fun thing to do on a Tuesday afternoon, I believe that there should be a rage space for every coffee shop. Just a place where we can walk into, bring something we want to destroy, and leave with the satisfaction that we can still make an impact in this world. We can still alter the outcome of a physical entity, without hurting another human being, of course.

Not everything in life will go your way. Sometimes the Canucks will lose. Sometimes your boss will not acknowledge your efforts. Sometimes your partner will belittle you at a party. Sometimes your life will seem like it’s spinning out of your control. That’s because we are forced to place meaningless objects on pedestals. We worship objects. We shouldn’t. Smash it. Smash it before you find yourself downtown smashing the window of The Bay or flipping over a cop car.

The gravel is always grayer

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Don’t be pressured to purchase by the snobby world around you

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published by The Other Press. Sept 10, 2015

I won’t do it. I won’t spend eight hours a day, 251 days a year working to buy an expensive car or a fancy-ass watch or anything that I don’t need. I won’t do it to impress an employer, I won’t do it to impress friends, and I won’t do it to impress family. Life is so much more than being frivolous. Even if I am wealthy, I will not blow my paycheque on items that are supposed to catapult me to the next social class. Fuck that!

Today everyone is a connoisseur of some sort. Fashion, food, drinks, and so on. Everybody thinks they are experts at something and therefore are encouraged—nay, expected—to judge it. This type of snobbery extends from music, to food, to transportation, to neighbourhoods.

We have all behaved like snobs at one point or another. Most of us don’t even notice it. The reason is that we all have our own interests, and we live in a democracy where many around us don’t share those same values. Someone who is interested in beer and wine would know the lengthy details of how the drinks are produced, and which are “better.” Someone who is interested in cars would tell you that he or she would never go back to driving anything with a six-cylinder inline engine after leasing a vehicle equipped with a V6. Some who are interested in luxury handbags would tell you that it is so much more than a container for make-up products; it’s a statement on the social climate. I get it. We all have our things.

Learn to tell the difference between good and bad of course, but stop yourself from trying to discover good from great. Great is not that great. Great does not make you happy. Great is meaningless luxury. Great can be sustenance, yes, but it is also wasteful. Great is a lie you tell yourself so that you don’t feel bad paying double for a bottle of wine or a pair of shoes or a meal.

Having a palette for good things and appreciating them is much healthier than constantly demanding the finest. You deserve to be happy, but if happiness is having the best things in the world, you are just getting ripped off, my friend.

“Don’t be pressured into doing something you don’t want to do.” I feel like an elementary teacher told me this, but it was probably some television PSA I saw. Nevertheless, that statement stuck with me. But I don’t live by it. I do many things that I don’t want to do. I don’t like cleaning, but I do it. I don’t like waiting in long line-ups, but I wait. I don’t like paying taxes, but I have to. That’s just life. However, what I can control is what I want to spend my money on and I don’t have to spend it on what you want me to spend it on.

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Hate Technology

How social media creates a vortex of outrage with no solution

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published in The Other Press, Sept 4, 2015

Cecil the lion, the drowned Syrian boy, and even Kony 2012: it seems as though social media today is a place where we air our grievances. Yet, after we’ve blown enough hot air at a topic, we move on to the next one. Social media is a great place to gain an audience, but it seems as though awareness is as effective as a like button.

There is so much misguided information floating around the Internet today that we aren’t solving critical problems intelligently; we prefer a mob mentality. After the death of Cecil the lion, the online world became outraged by the act of trophy hunting—and in a way, all hunting in general. With obvious nearsighted Western thinking, many couldn’t see the positive side to controlled hunting, hunting as a way to sustain national parks and control the population of potentially dangerous or pesky animals. Instead of educating themselves, we publicly demanded the head of a Minnesota dentist. It’s this type of thinking that makes many appear hypocritical.

Social media as a vessel to bring awareness to the masses has created an audience of self-righteous pundits that happily add to the noise, but do little to end it.

Pointing the lens at an overlooked crisis, social media decided to over-share the image of a drowned Syrian boy washed on a Turkish shore. It’s obviously a terrible sight, especially slotted in between newsfeed favourites: vacation pictures, selfies, and images of food. Many weren’t only outraged by the migrant crisis in Europe, but also by the fact that social media is now the platform people use to upset, guilt, and shame.

Yes, we are all nodding our head saying that what has happened is awful, but there is so much horror in the world, why share it with our morning cup of coffee? Why create activists out of people who are clearly only capable of being idle? Why shove it down our throats?

I’m not a proponent of censorship, but I am a strong supporter of context. So many people who’ve seen the dead Syrian boy are oblivious to the current crisis. They see a dead toddler and they react without thinking. Blinded by rage, all they are able to do is condemn whatever wrongdoing is taking place in the world. This is our crisis. This is a problem. The world of social media has become so easily manipulated that we are now zombies to whatever power of persuasion the networks want to use against us. People are reading misinformation sourced by other misinformation, and that leads to a vicious cycle of misguided points-of-view. We don’t know what we’re talking about, and, when we do, we have no way of acting, no solution, just stealth-shaming others.

There needs to be a change in the way we consume and discuss content and crisis online. Is a comment thread the best way to have an intelligent discourse? I don’t think so; I think it’s more of a toilet bowl we are all vomiting into.