If you live in the UK, switch off Facebook for a few weeks

I have a Masters degree in Media, Communication and Society. Yet I have no exact data to give you about precisely how Facebook messes up our heads. But I know it is dangerous before a snap election. And you can’t win. So take a break.

Facebook is evil. Those that try and bunch it with Amazon, Google or Apple are completely missing the point. Facebook reflects all the immaturity of Mark Zuckerberg, essentially still an adolescent hacker, just with more money and power. That is a really bad combination. And he isn’t improving. Anyone that uses Facebook knows how often it just breaks, weird things happen and normal things don’t happen. Mark doesn’t care. If you use it for business it is even worse. It feels like a very one-sided relationship. He pretends and strongly suggests you do something, you do it, win for a little and then he screws you. He says “everyone make a Facebook page for your company” and then he neuters pages. Effectively nobody sees your page unless you pay. Then he says “video is the future”. At first videos get ridiculously good response. Then, you guessed it, pay to be seen. Groups, Live, every feature the same trick.

Does Facebook sell your data? Hell yeah! In as many ways as it can get away with! And if you catch them with one Cambridge Analytica it will just find different ways to do the same thing. It is more of a losing race than building antibiotics for new viruses because in this game Facebook holds all the cards.

But no, you think, I am a mature adult, with good critical thinking skills and a firm grip on what happens around me. So you think you will “help” your friends read the political situation do you? Guess again! Nobody is reading your posts. Facebook is designed to surround you with a few, the same, people liking and commenting. Your impact is close to zero unless you want to pay a few million to Facebook HQ for a deal as good as their big customers.

So to all fellow British passport holders, anyone going to vote in the upcoming UK elections I say “turn it off”. Deactivate your account for a month, no big deal. You will have more time to do yoga, meditation or anything that will help you be calm and accepting of the results. You are not deciding who wins. Mark is going to do you over again. So just prepare for the morning after.


Greek on a soapbox

Will try and keep this short and unGreek in drama.  I am a Germanotsolias according to many people here.  The term refers to the police collaborators with the Nazis and is very fashionable again.  Ι write in full knowledge that I am probably going to be pinpointed by this, already the Press is facing ridiculous inquisitions on political grounds.

Europe I am sorry.   We just kept taking your money, lying through our teeth and spending it.  Even just before the referendum, our government was busy hiring more civil servants under various guises.  Even after the referendum, our ministers are lying to your face.  They are not going to make any proposals.  Even if you give away all our debt and accept all our terms, they won’t sign any agreement.  They don’t need to.   61% of half the voting age Greeks, voted No to the referendum.  Some of them were fooled.  Many of them truly believe that now is the time to start a global revolution against banks, the European Union and the shortcomings of the global economy from our country.

I am sorry.  I know it sounds ludicrous.  It is preposterous.  Imagine what we feel like.  That 39% that managed to vote “YES”, despite all the pressure.  Despite seeing close friends suddenly lose touch with reality with a religious fervour that is truly frightening.  People that should have known better.  They studied abroad, they do business with other countries, they work with the European Union yet….somehow they manage to disregard reality.  For some it is a knee jerk reaction to being accused by others.  For some it is an indirect admission of guilt.  They feel we should be reduced to rumbles in order to work our way back up.  They imagine it as a quick musical interlude in a corny American movie, a dramatic song, our hero working overtime and then…everything is fine ten minutes later and the movie ends.

On top of it all, our latest government has played the “Europe needs fixing” card in a way which is criminal.  Just as the Scottish referendum showed the UK how to move towards a more Federal model and things are moving in the right direction, comes the Greek bulldozer.  So let this be a warning to you all.  For too long, European politicians have blamed Europe.  It was the easy choice.  Be careful what sows you seed and by all means, don’t allow your current politicians to lead you to fanatical choices.

Maybe Europe doesn’t “work” for you.  If you have a strong economy, reliable politicians and social cohesion maybe you can do something better on your own.  Just don’t rush into it.


Yanis Varoufakis is a liar – Greeks are not poor by any measure

We know by looking into the eyes of the hungry in the streets of our cities…”  The man is a writer.  A blogger.  A tweeter.  But surely not the material of a finance minister.  Maybe this whole thing is just a scheme on his part so he can sell more books.  Maybe he wants to charge as much as Bill Clinton for speeches as soon as resigns.  (It shouldn’t be too long the way he is behaving so far!)

No, Greeks are not poor.  By any measure.  This is a complete and blatant lie.   Greeks are fat, lazy and spoilt by politicians like Mr Varoufakis.   It is pretty amazing that an educated economist is not afraid to lie like this.  Does he not know how to measure poverty?  No, Mr Yanis (with one “n” because you are a brand, not a normal person), poverty is not measured by the unemployment rate.  Lazy people might well be unemployed, in a country like Greece where many jobs are “not good enough” for many Greeks anymore.   People working the black economy state themselves as unemployed.  Even businessmen lately I have been talking to, after seeing the tax situation, are declaring themselves unemployed in the hope of a better treatment from the erratic State.  Unemployment is the result of incompetent governments afraid to make much needed changes, not austerity per se.

And Mr Varoufakis is just making it worse.  His month of antics has cost us dearly.  Not only in capital flight, not only in missed opportunities, not only has he made us the laughing stock of Europe but – worse of all – he has instigated the worse kind of nationalism possible in this situation.  He has made Greeks proud to be the laughing stock of Europe.  With a logic similar to our childish prime minister, cheap tricks and no ties, he has blatantly disregarded all protocol, lazily refused to do the work necessary and cheaply accused the media or other European leaders for his own lack of skills.  This government has known for a long time they would be in Brussels for this negotiation yet it didn’t prepare anything at all.   It got the whole world looking at us ….and deciding that Greeks are indeed lazy and cantankerous, unstable immature children; all about pomp and words, not deeds.

Germans know very well that Greeks are not poor.  They know that Greeks own their own houses, most also own a country home in those wonderful places others come on to holiday.  Many also own a third or fourth plot of land or house at a village or an apartment they rent out in the center of town.  They know that while they cycle to work or take public transport, Greeks lavishly drive themselves around everywhere.  Greeks don’t buy used things.    Any way you look at our lifestyles they are richer than most other Europeans.   Greeks still spend big time on many retail luxuries which other Europeans have outruled a long time ago.   In fact, Mr Varoufakis would have a pretty hard time as an economist, finding an indicator of “Greek poverty”.  Which is probably why he uses vague statements about “too much austerity”.  Too much for who?  With what end result in mind?   In a country with a disproportionate number of pensioners, does he have the balls to deal with real problems like that or will we sit around wrangling about minimum wage and other publicity stunts?

We all know what needs to be done. The problem is not the size of the debt.  Even if you wrote it all off tomorrow, Greece is in trouble.  Those “structural changes” everyone goes on about are very far away.  Not because Mr Varoufakis doesn’t know what needs to be done.  Everyone knows what needs to be done.  Everyone outside of Greece that is.  Because most Greeks are still waiting for handouts.  Our huge civil service voted for SYRIZA hoping they would repeat the old PASOK trick of lending money and giving it away.  Like little children, most Greeks think austerity is just a bad dream.  SYRIZA gave them a campaign of “hope” but they might as well called it a campaign of “wild dreams”.

Well only 1/4 of Greeks voted for SYRIZA.   They claim “democratic mandate” but they don’t have anything of the sort.   There are a lot of us who know that our country needs probably 20-30 years of slow and painful change before the next generation emerges truly globalised and ready for the way the world really works, not expecting handouts from anyone.  It is change which has to happen inside us first and foremost.  No IMF, or Troika, or whatever word for it Mr Varoufaki chooses for foreign help, can change that.

You are no messiah Mr Varoufaki.  You are a liar.  Enjoy the limelight while you have it.



Why I wish our prime minister would get a stewardess (like his Dad)

George Papandreou is nothing like his father.  He tries sometimes when giving speeches to large crowds, but only in the mannerisms and style.  The most important difference I would argue, is that he is not a womanizer.  And before all female readers close this window offended I need to clarify that this is a serious political point.

Andreas Papandreou famously attached himself (though it was probably the other way around!) to a younger woman, Dimitra Liani, a stewardess at Olympic Airlines.  His sizable grin, even after heart surgery, matched the size of her breasts as the story went around the world.  I still get asked about it when travelling abroad!

It takes a certain kind of audacity to pull off moves like that.  Sure, it can go too far, like Silvio Berlusconi has done.  But with every timid public appearance of Giorgios Papandreou it is striking to think how we would handle an extramarital affair.  I think it would do him good.  He would have to stand up for something and wiggle his way around.  He would have to add an aura, that star power that politicians use when necessary.  He has been cast by friendly US media as “The Greek Thinker” but we all do way too much thinking.  And talking.  It is the actions that have been missing!

So get yourself a girlfriend please Mr Primeminister.  Heck, get yourself a dozen, do a Tiger Woods on us.  And while you are learning how to get out of that, you might get better at international negotiations rather than lying down and playing dead.