Agents at Future Generali India Life Insurance Company Limited equipped with a 360 integrated digital platform to combat COVID 19 situation- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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In keeping with the current global COVID19 crisis and the subsequent announcement of social distancing by the government that called for a quick action on digital adoption, Future Generali India Life Insurance Company Ltd was swift to respond to the call. They developed a 360-degree digital delivery platform helping their agents all over India to carry out everyday business activities, without having to move out of their current locations. The digital solution integrates all existing digital platforms used by agents at one place. Hence it simplifies the whole process making it smarter to work with.
Commenting on the introduction of the platform,Mr. Subhasish Acharya, Executive Vice President & Head – Proprietary Channels, Future Generali India Life Insurance Company,said, “The unprecedented global COVID 19 crisis caught businesses off guard and disrupted our routine. The new normal calls for businesses to adapt and adopt digital solutions at a faster pace. FGILI is one of the few insurance players who worked on a solution using agile methodology and was quick to go to the market.  With our integrated online platform for distributors, we are better off now to adapt to the new normal.”
What are the digital tools made available to agents on the integrated platform?
In the life insurance industry, bringing in new policy holders is either a physical process or a mix of physical and digital process. The COVID19 disruption entirely disabled the physical process. FGILI’s integrated digital platform takes the entire process online. From recruiting agents to identifying leads, to generating interest, to calling clients, to having online conference or video chats with customers, to finally issuing a policy document – all these activities can be done online at one place.

Connected Agent: One of the unique things FGILI did was to bring all their distributors and agents online by giving them ‘Connected Agent’, a personalized URL in the FGILI domain. This platform enables them to connect with their customers and have a digital footprint. It empowers them with several tools to conduct everyday business with customers. Distributors can manage email & SMS marketing initiatives, sync mobile phone contacts, and use them for marketing as well as track and analyse traffic on their personalised website. The platform can be synced to latest devices while also having wearable compatibility.
Online Recruitment Tool (ORT): ORT is a real time state of the art digital tool that can recruit agents and distributers online. This tool undertakes various functions like receiving initial interest from the prospect while giving them detailed information about FGILI as required to know. Some of the core features offered on this tool are

Income calculator for Distributors
Dashboard for recruiters and their supervisors / mangers
Quick, easy, and mobile compatible journey for applicants
Workflow approach to track each application
Approval prompts for each level of hierarchical approvals
Simplified online processes for exam and training
An online content library
On the fly code creation and disbursement of the Offer / Appointment Letter

91.27% Front line Sales teams have adopted it this tool in the company while 77% of them have successfully hired distributors through this tool in the month of April 2020.

FG Infinity: This platform is a 360-degree sales management tool that gives flexibility to an agent to log-in a new business from anywhere and at any time. This solution is device agnostic. The Agency channel and the Direct channel teams have logged in 87% and 83% policies through this platform respectively.
FG One: This is a web-based dashboard that gives real time and all necessary business-related MIS on the go. Within a month of launch, FGILI had 398 Distributors who engaged with the FG One platform and continue to do so regularly.
FG PLVC: Pre-Login Verification code is an app that verifies a new customer at the time of registration of a new policy. The agent can virtually assist the customer to complete verification process. Apart from elimination of fraudulent proposals, it also helps in making the customer aware about the policy and its terms and conditions. FGILI’s Agency channel team has demonstrated a seamless adoption of approximately 51%, while for the Direct channel team it is approximately at 57%.
FG Smart Academy: is an Online Training Platform developed to train the sales force on a plethora of topics ranging from products, processes, digital tools, and current affairs. This platform has succeeded in raising the Front Line Sales team engagement by 97%, post the launch in April. The company has succeeded in completing almost 60000 man hours of online training from March 24, 2020 to April 24, 2020, covering 14,000 distributors and 1,600 salespeople. In addition to ‘FG Smart Academy’, the company also conducts online interactive sessions on ‘MS Teams’ which influences the sales journey in the new Digital era.

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I like the sound of my own voice – but does that make me a narcissist? | Life and style- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

I was on the phone to a friend recently, blathering away as usual, when I realised that there was no one on the other end of the line. How long ago had this happened? I checked my phone and discovered, to my horror, that the call had ended almost five minutes ago.
In the pub with another friend, not long after this incident, I asked how self-obsessed she thinks I am – a question only self-obsessed people ask, along with our other hobbies: stalking ourselves on social media and planning our own funerals. Without deliberation, she concluded that I was an 8.5 out of 10. “OK…” I reeled, deeply offended. “But I ask about you too, right? I am a good friend?” Quickly, the subject was changed.
That night, I lay in bed, thinking only of myself, and did an audit of my life. Yes, I recently gave up on therapy because I’m so happy to talk to anyone I know about my feelings that it seemed a waste of money. But I get deeply irritated by those people who sit next to you on a flight and ask where you are going just so that they can give you a monologue about themselves for an hour. How could I talk about myself too much when I find others who do so annoying? I feel certain that, were I forced, I could go at least a week without talking about myself.
At 28, I lie squarely within what Time magazine called the “me me me generation”, after collecting data that showed millennials are more narcissistic, entitled and fame-obsessed than any other cohort of society. I feel this acutely as a writer who is often paid to write about myself for a living. My most successful contemporaries are the millennial female journalists who have, with a bit of clever personal self-branding, modelled themselves into semi-influencers: Dolly Alderton, Jia Tolentino, Cat Marnell. “I owe a lot of my career to the fact that my temperament, my self, and my life all map well and easily on to the persona-based internet,” Tolentino recently told the Guardian.
But it’s not just my generation that is more self-obsessed. Using magnetic resonance imaging of the brain, researchers at the Harvard University Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab have found that talking and thinking about ourselves is accompanied by high levels of activity in the areas of our brain associated with motivation and reward.
Social media has made us less attuned to what is going on around us, too. The average internet user spends two hours 24 minutes on social media daily; and receiving “likes” for content we post about ourselves is associated with increased dopamine, the neurotransmitter that makes us feel good.
According to Kate Murphy, who has spoken to hairdressers, CIA agents and priests who take confession for her book You’re Not Listening: What You’re Missing And Why It Matters, we are not totally to blame: our modern age encourages self-involvement and, particularly, the prioritisation of talking over listening. We’ve all been guilty of waiting for an opening in the conversation just so we can have our turn to speak, but Murphy argues that, recently, things have got out of hand.
In schools, debate, rhetoric and presenting are all taught, but not listening. At work, we are told to be leaders or “girl bosses”, while those who make it in their professions invariably end up giving a Ted Talk. At home, we bark orders at Siri and Alexa, at the same time filtering out different viewpoints on social media, leaving us in an echo chamber.
“I guess I’ve noticed the same things you mention about yourself,” Murphy says in a soft Texan accent, when I call to ask why she wrote the book. “We feel the need to advance our own agenda to sell ourselves, we’re distracted by technology and we’re consumed by what’s going on in our own heads.”
Murphy quotes the famous book written in 1936 by Dale Carnegie, How To Win Friends And Influence People. “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”
After my friend’s character assassination in the pub, I wondered later that night what I would gain from talking about myself less, and resolved to do the unthinkable: avoid any mention of myself in conversation. (I did this experiment long before social distancing guidelines were in place, although it would have been a lot easier if I’d had the “mute mic” button I have in isolation.)

After two hours, the conversation does eventually turn to me. I am offended that it took so long, but I do not let on

It is a Monday evening and I am at a dinner party, fidgeting in my seat but holding my tongue. I have decided that for my first attempt at not talking about myself, this event will be perfect. I don’t know most of the people here: fewer friends means fewer people likely to notice that I am being unusually generous in the conversation.
When I arrive, I pour myself a glass of wine and start throwing questions out into the room. A Greenpeace activist tells me about their planned expedition in the Antarctic. A comedian tells a very entertaining story about a recent gig where she was trapped on a lesbian cruise ship for a week. So far, so normal. Suddenly, an hour has passed and I find that because I am not talking, but listening, I have much more time and headspace to think of funny quips to respond to other people’s anecdotes. I am hilarious. Funnier than the comedian.
After two hours, the conversation does eventually turn to me. I am offended that it took so long, but I do not let on. Someone tells me that they read my book Queer Intentions, which is part memoir (quelle surprise!) and part reportage, exploring LGBTQ+ rights across the west. They ask about the research process and I deflect the question by talking about the people in it: “Everyone I interviewed was absolutely incredible. So fascinating, so honest.” But it comes across feigned, like a Miss World acceptance speech.
I leave the room before I can be probed further, excusing myself to help the host wash up in the kitchen. Over the pans, he asks me how I’ve been doing. I can’t resist. I explode with my recent gossip like a dam bursting. Out of the floodgates pours an entire monologue about a holiday romance, segueing seamlessly into a rant about searching for a flat. The washing-up is finished long before I am. I couldn’t last one evening. I may have a problem.
Seeking answers, I contact Dr Craig Malkin online. He is a Harvard psychologist who has written two books on narcissism, one of them so popular that it ended up in Oprah’s book club. Narcissism, he tells me, is on a spectrum. Everyone has some narcissistic traits, he says, but a narcissist is someone who lets it govern their personality. When it tips over into a problem, he says, is when you have narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). These people exhibit what Malkin calls the triple E: they are so driven to feel special that they will exploit other people; they are so entitled they think other people should bend to their will; and empathy impairment can make them blind to the feelings of others, usually to the detriment of personal relationships.
Being a narcissist is different from being self-obsessed, says Malkin, because you could be self-obsessed for any number of reasons, short- or long-term – from having obsessive compulsive disorder or anxiety, to being really stressed about preparing for your wedding. Narcissists inherently think they deserve more attention and are always comparing themselves with others. We can spot one, Malkin says, when it feels like “getting ahead comes over getting along”.
That doesn’t seem like who I am – I just really like the sound of my own voice – and yet I feel a strange pang of sympathy for narcissists. “I have been looking at the reviews of your book and notice that one calls it ‘terrifying’, and that the Oprah book club review said it would help you to ‘protect yourself against narcissists’,” I tell Malkin. “Do we think narcissists are getting a bad rap?” Potentially, he says, explaining that we are more prone to NPD if our parents are narcissistic, or if we do not experience loving parenting with set boundaries. Plus, in extroverted NPD – present in a certain type of more outgoing, disordered narcissist – men are twice as likely to be diagnosed as women, probably because “women are discouraged from, and punished for, being too loud, outgoing or attention-seeking, and men are rewarded for it”.
So, narcissism is both innate and conditioned, he says; thus it’s not really your fault if you are one. Besides, “There are many narcissists whom you can invite into a loving, secure relationship and they have some flexibility, and if you teach people with NPD how to relate to people when they are feeling scared, vulnerable or sad, the narcissism drops.” That is why Malkin is able to help people with NPD: once identified, it is to some extent treatable. Overall, he says, “It’s not bad to be a narcissist… not as a value judgment.”
By Wednesday, I have become much more focused on my task. I meet a close friend for lunch and, with therapist levels of Zen, I offer him the floor, enjoy my food and listen. Within 20 minutes, he tells me about problems with his partner that have been going on for a year – something he had never mentioned before, partly, he admits, because he isn’t very good at talking about his feelings, but also because I never gave him the space. After work, I go for a drink-slash-meeting with a colleague – in which, admittedly, I talk about myself because it’s a meeting about my work – but I do make an effort to talk about myself less. And so she begins to tell me about her love life. Over the course of two drinks, I feel we progress from colleagues to something closer to real friends. Create more silence, I notice, and people will start to fill it.

A lot of the time people are thinking of what witty, wonderful thing to say next. But you miss half of the conversation

In the world of dating I have never been particularly mysterious or aloof. You could describe my seduction technique as “highly available”; glance at my text flirtations and you would be alarmed to see that I send three times as many messages as the person I am trying to hit on. At least, that is, until I recently met my match: a girl who is as self-obsessed as I am sends me long, unsolicited streams of consciousness at 3am that resemble dream diary entries (and perhaps not incidentally she is – like me – a Gemini).
We go to dinner and, as I expect, she is happy to talk enough for both of us. She tells me her college coming-out story, the long version. I listen intently, although I notice that I occasionally feel compelled to interrupt – not to talk about myself, but to ask more questions, spur things on, break up the story a bit. I wonder whether this counts as bad listening or good listening, rude or engaged.
After a while, I start to drift into thinking about a delivery that hasn’t arrived, my next meal, another date I went on with someone else, but catch myself and take note of my poor attention span. My wandering mind leads me to accidentally put my sleeve in my dinner, and I am frustrated that I can’t use a dazzling anecdote to redeem myself.
At the end of the date she says, “I feel like I’ve talked this whole time. What about you?” We can talk about me next time, I say, feeling smug and mysterious for maybe the first time ever.
I call Murphy and tell her I’ve been struggling to be a present listener. Thankfully, she assuages my guilt. “Because we’re social animals, we want to be liked,” she says. “So a lot of the time, people are spinning the wheel, thinking about what witty, wonderful or intellectual thing they want to say next. But, as a result, you miss half of the conversation. It often happens with people who are smarter.”
Is that true, I ask, hoping I’m simply too intelligent to be attentive. “It is. When you have a higher IQ, it makes it harder to listen because your brain can think of more things to think about and you’re more likely to assume that you already know what people are going to say. Plus smarter people tend to be more neurotic and anxious. So things can more easily hijack their attention.”
Over the weekend, I grow tired of my new, less self-involved lifestyle. OK, I’ve shut up about myself only half of the time anyway, but when I meet friends at a bar and contribute little to the conversation, I only feel half present. Here’s the thing: talking, but not talking about yourself at all, is both inconvenient and weird; generally, people expect a two-way exchange of personal information. We give over something of ourselves as a courtesy and, in return, others open up to us. It might have endeared my date to me (she texts to tell me she wants to see me again), but if I shared nothing of myself, how do I know she really likes me?
Still, I realised that my lack of listening and habit of hitting people with an onslaught of information have a lot to do with the economy of time. For me, socialising often becomes a conveyor belt of cursory “catch-up” dinners with people you see once every three months, involving a manic exchange of top-line news. What is much more enjoyable, I learn in my meagre six days of relative selflessness, is to give yourself and others more of your time, to lie back and listen.
I failed my challenge of not talking about myself for a whole week. But a lot like dry January (which, yes, I also failed), it did curb my bad habits. A week or so on, I am more of what Murphy would call an “active” listener, so, naturally, I decide to meet up with the friend who rated me 8.5 out of 10 on the self-obsessed scale, in order to try to lower my rating. Without me speaking, the time we spend together feels forced and there are lulls in the conversation. Eventually the friend cracks. “Haven’t you got any good stories?” she asks. Oh, I thought I talked about myself too much, I reply. “Of course you do, but that’s your special quality,” she says. “You are completely comfortable holding the floor for one hour, but at least it’s entertaining.”
You don’t have to have a drinking problem to find dry January difficult. Similarly, I realise, you don’t have to be a raging narcissist to be unable to shut up about yourself. There is nothing wrong with a bit of self-obsession, but now I occasionally pause for breath – to make sure everyone else has had their conversational turn… or to check whether the line has gone dead.

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HDFC Life’s CMO setting-up tech capabilities to optimise customer life cycle- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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We are living in a rapidly changing world, with quick digital adoption across the value chain. The perspective of customers, distributors, employees, suppliers, regulators, has seen a sea change. Pankaj Gupta, Senior EVP (Sales & Distribution) & CMO at HDFC Life defines these changes as synergistic changes and that the entire ecosystem today enables a strategic shift in all aspects of the organisation’s evolution.
HDFC Life, a leading life insurance company, has a range of products that protect customers from the risk of mortality, morbidity and longevity. “At HDFC Life, we recognised the potential of digital transformation early on. It is an integral part of our corporate strategy. Empowering and delighting customers as well as our partners are at the core of our transformation journey. All investments made have been to ensure that we provide a world-class seamless on-boarding and servicing journey on our own digital platforms as well as that of the larger digital eco-system,” Gupta explains.
“We are past the tipping point now. An organisation’s digital maturity and true execution capability is a key differentiator and success factor in the marketplace today, and a mark of competitive advantage. From a marketing perspective, while the traditional channels of print, TV and radio will continue to be powerful mediums of mass reach, digital marketing channels have emerged as a strong customer connector. In light of this digital transformation, exciting opportunities for marketing are getting crystalised across new product creation, innovation in propositions, communication, customer delight, research, engagement, interest generation, and customisation,” states Gupta.
Integrated customer experience
Holistic customer experience is about delighting the customer at every touch point. Gupta is focusing on unifying the experience across touchpoints, offline as well as online. “Therefore, our approach for customer experience is a balanced mix of listening to customer feedback through formal and informal means in as real time as possible, to eliminate pain points rapidly and keep enhancing the user experience,” he says.
Customer retention and loyalty are critical to ensure long term business growth. To drive customer loyalty, they are managing the structured engagement programs in addition to experience initiatives that help them in engaging with the customers at key junctures, as reflected through data analytics and their own heuristics. These engagement programs help HDFC Life establish a deeper relationship with the customers rather than a transactional one. Further, they keep striving to understand their customers better and offer relevant propositions and solutions to them.
Social media to lure buyers
HDFC Life is in the business of protecting lives through the power of Life Insurance and helping individuals live a life of pride. As their tag line says, ‘Sar utha ke jiyo!’.
“As we know, customers today extensively use social media and digital to research and evaluate brands and products before making purchase decisions. It becomes imperative for a brand to ensure a smooth and effective consumer experience that helps build a positive image and drive brand awareness,” Gupta states, adding further, “Social media platforms specifically help build a personality that audiences can engage with in a meaningful manner.”
At HDFC Life, there’s a differentiated focus based on factors like demographics, medium, product, etc. The road map for each social platform caters to the audience behaviour and expectations from that platform. With brand campaigns like Behind the Journey and Bounce Back, the company ensures that these are based on a strong core message that can be expanded on different platforms, and that meets the audiences’ needs and drives awareness at mass level.
User-generated content for strong engagement“Word of mouth and recommendation by peers are strong nudges for a customer to consider a life insurance product and the insurer brand. User-generated content (UGC) is an important tool to engage customers with relatable, relevant and credible content,” he adds.
One of the HDFC Life’s marquee campaigns, ‘The Memory Project’ is based on the simple idea of enabling a person to share stories of people who have left an impact on their lives. The approach helps the company connect with the customers deeply and create a like-minded community. Each year, they have witnessed an increase in the number of such stories and further, such engagements are then enhanced across digital platforms.
Gupta says, “On Instagram, we talk of real stories of human lives, that nudge and inspire. Our Bounce Back campaign features a brand anthem, performed by young artists like Jonita Gandhi and Arjun Kanungo. This was extensively promoted on social media. We also enabled lip sync to the lyrics and posting of such performances and sharing with us to get a brand shout out.”
At HDFC Life the communication is driven by insights, derived from data, customer research as well as formal and informal feedback from multiple quarters. A campaign resonates with a specific audience only when the insight is sharp and relevant and the message is delivered meaningfully. For sharper targeting, they use deep levels of analytics and segmentation to profile customers and understand their needs. This helps them to break the clutter and deliver heart-warming, relevant and personalised communication.
Technology: A big differentiator and enabler
Emerging tech has positively changed the marketing landscape for sectors including life insurance. Technology helps a marketer to access data in real time, derive actionable insights and deliver contextual and hyper-personalised campaigns.
Gupta says, “As a CMO, the role is to ensure that the creative, data and technology streams are synergised and completely aligned to customer and business needs. Also, a lot of technology decisions happen outside of marketing so as a CMO, one needs to wear the hat of a collaborator to align efforts and ensure buy-ins from across the organisation as well as external stakeholders. I like to think of this as getting marketing deeply integrated in all aspects of the organisation’s operations.”
HDFC Life has taken significant steps to build and refresh technology capabilities and these have been integrated into every aspect of the business. From a marketing perspective, their ability to manage data, nudge customers, and engage meaningfully is possible because of this technology edge.
“It is important to keep in mind data security, scalability, sustainability, and the true ability to meet customer needs while working with emerging tech. We have re-imagined insurance by building the brand experience in an omni-channel environment to fulfil needs that are even unexpressed by a customer, while simultaneously helping us achieve our business goals,” he mentions.

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What does it mean to be a ‘Karen’? Karens explain | Life and style- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

It is the eye-rolling retort that Karens everywhere have come to know all too well: “OK, KAREN.”
Yes, it is their given name – but on the internet, “Karen” has come to stand for so much more.
According to a popular meme, Karen is a middle-aged white woman with an asymmetrical bob asking to speak to the manager, who happens to be as entitled as she is ignorant.

But as the meme has become more prominent in online discourse, its meaning has become confused, and criticism has been voiced that it is sexist – with real-life Karens caught in the crosshairs.
“I spend a lot of time on Twitter, so I find it rather annoying,” says Karen Geier, a writer and podcaster from Toronto. “Anything you say, people can be like, ‘OK, well, whatever, KAREN’ – but that’s not even how the meme is supposed to be used. It’s supposed to be about people who want to speak to the manager.”
Know Your Meme, a Wiki-style site that defines internet culture, added “Karen” last year as an extension of the “‘Can I speak to the manager’ haircut” meme, born of Black Twitter back in 2014. “Whenever you want to signal that that character’s a Karen, you’ll just toss that haircut on,” says the editor-in-chief, Don Caldwell.
The choice of moniker has been linked to the 2004 film Mean Girls, where a character says, outraged: “Oh my God, Karen, you can’t just ask someone why they’re white” – a meme in and of itself.

But more likely, the name was chosen for its association with whiteness. “Growing up as a kid in the 1990s, I remember people – particularly other black kids – being like, ‘You don’t look like a Karen,’” recalls Karen Attiah, an editor at the Washington Post. “It was an unspoken thing, but Karen was a white, older lady’s name.”
When Attiah was born in 1986, “Karen” was already in decline, having peaked in the US in 1965. In 2018 there were just 468 baby Karens born. “We’re kind of a rare breed,” she says.
Her mother, who had immigrated from Nigeria, chose the name so that Attiah could “easily move around in a white-dominated world”. “It has afforded me, I think, a certain privilege,” says Attiah.
It is that privilege that the meme sets out to skewer. In 2018, it was among a handful of female names to become attached to a spate of viral videos showing white women racially targeting people of colour. The antagonist of one such clip, of a woman calling the police over a group of African American men having a barbecue in a park in Oakland, California, came to be known as BBQ Becky (another name applied to white women online).
The meme is therefore rooted in black American internet culture, says Attiah – an attempt to find humour in real-world racism and oppression. To call someone a Karen is to target a particular behaviour: “It’s a very specific definition and, if you’re not acting that way, it shouldn’t bother you,” says Attiah. To try to hijack the meaning of the meme is “a pretty Karen thing to do”.
The meme has new resonance in the time of coronavirus, increasingly being applied to those who are protesting against social distancing measures or treating the pandemic as permission to unfairly police others.
The male equivalent might be the “Kyle” meme: an angry, aggressive white teenage boy, characterised by his penchant for Monster energy drinks, Axe body spray and punching drywall. “Karen might be Kyle’s mom,” suggests Caldwell, “and they don’t have a very good relationship.”
But “Karen” is far more popular than “Kyle” – and the fact that an older woman’s name has been made an internet-wide figure of fun has led to criticisms of the meme as misogynistic. Philadelphia community organiser Gwen Snyder recently tweeted that it had been co-opted by “white boys [who] stole it and turned it into code for ‘bitch’”.
Last month, the British feminist commentator Julie Bindel tweeted that “the ‘Karen’ slur is woman hating and based on class prejudice”, arguing that it was a working-class name.
She later said that she was not aware of the origins of the meme, and had reached her view after seeing “white misogynistic men use it towards older women”. (At time of writing Bindel had deleted her Twitter account.)
Advocate Alicia Sanchez Gill was among those to push back (as did Attiah, in a recent opinion article). She says now that it is possible that men have wielded the meme against women online – but it is still more typically used “by black women and working-class women to talk about the way wealthy, and often white women enact classism and racism”.
As for suggestion that “Karen” is now a slur, says Sanchez Gill, the measure must be of material harm. “Being named Karen, as far as we know, has never blocked a person from getting a job the way some ‘ethnic-sounding’ and ‘black-sounding’ names have.”
Bindel’s comparison of the “Karen” meme with how “Sharon” and “Tracy” – names of characters in the sitcom Birds of a Feather – were used to dismiss younger, working-class women in 1980s Britain suggests the meme might be being interpreted differently either side of the Atlantic.
Karen Rhodes of Suffolk, England, says that 15 years ago the stereotype of a Karen was of someone who was “a bit irritating, with big boobs”. She had only recently learned of the meme, and saw it as just a bit of fun: “I’m sure there are people out there that will take offence, but it doesn’t bother me.”
She was, however, horrified to recognise the “Can I speak to the manager” haircut as the exact same one she used to have: “I’m not having that again.”
It is the meme’s connotations “of expectation, of self-importance, of racism” that irk Geier – a self-described “gobshite leftist” – about her name being used against her online. “I don’t talk to cops. I definitely wouldn’t be calling them on someone running a lemonade stand.”
Like Attiah, she distinguishes between being called Karen herself, and being a Karen: “Punching down IS the definitive Karen behaviour.”
For one Karen, it has proved a learning opportunity.
Karen Sandler, an attorney and software freedom advocate, says at first she was “a little sad” to see her name being applied so negatively – “but it’s just so funny, and also clearly, a little bit true”.
It has in some ways been a wake-up call, says Sandler. “I never want to be ‘a Karen’ in the way the meme suggests and, since it’s my name, I think about this often. It has helped me really appreciate the advantages that I have in life, and emboldened me to speak out when I see people being ignored or disadvantaged.”
The Karen character serves as a reminder to support people who are being ignored or overlooked, says Sandler, and to use her Karen powers for good. She included it in a recent talk she gave as an example of how everyone – not just Karens – can learn to be more mindful of others.
“The only way we’ll help our societies to become fully equal is if we each are willing to speak out for other people who have more to lose by speaking up. And Karens are known for their voices!”
For the best-selling Christian novelist Karen Kingsbury, the meme came as a little welcome light relief. “Honestly, I hadn’t seen the ‘Karen’ meme until your email,” she replied. “I must say when I looked at it, I smiled and laughed. Out loud. Which is always a fun thing.”
No, she wasn’t offended, Kingbsury wrote: “I don’t mind the meme. It’s not me.”

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Dating, a talk show and a dominatrix: Animal Crossing gamers explore new horizons during pandemic | Life and style – Blog – 10 minute

As shelter in place orders around the world have left many people trapped at home indefinitely, some have found a new place to meet up: inside the digital world of wildly popular Nintendo game Animal Crossing.
Released in late March, Animal Crossing: New Horizons quickly became the top game in the US. In it, users explore a carefree pastel environment, growing fruits and flowers, catching bugs or fish to sell, and making friends with other characters in an open-ended simulation.

Players are not alone in the game – by searching friend codes, an Animal Crossing user can visit others in the virtual world, joining them in their home or garden.
The ability to socialize has led some to use the game for more than its original function – building a personal island and paying off debts – but also as a platform to hang out with friends while we remain unable to do so in the real world.
The dominatrix who accepts bells as payment
When shelter in place was declared in San Francisco, Denali Winter, a hairdresser and sex worker who is non-binary, said they immediately knew their jobs would be severely impacted.

Winter hosts a client who has used the game settings to write ‘Denali’s slave’ on their body. Photograph: Animal Crossing
An avid video gamer, Winter turned to Animal Crossing for solace. But soon, they began to use it for work as well – as a venue to beat, subdue, and order around clients who want to engage with a dominatrix from a safe distance.
Winter, who has worked as a dominatrix for more than seven years, is now forcing clients to water flowers, cross dress, and pay them bells – the currency in Animal Crossing. If the players disobey, Winter can put them in a cage – virtually.
“Sex workers are always adapting, and this is just another layer of adaptation,” Winter said. “I need to connect with my clients somehow.”
Sex workers have been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Winter advertises services on Twitter, and shares their friend code with clients who want to come water their flowers or do other chores. The clients most often do not pay Winter real money to engage on the game, they said, but simply help virtually.
Many of the activities Winter did in person as a dominatrix can be replicated within Animal Crossing, they said. They are able to smack fellow users with a net used to catch butterflies or mock them while they cry using different controls on the app, or build a cage for people when they are “bad”.

One of Winter’s clients spends the night in a cage. Photograph: Animal Crossing
As someone who identifies as non-binary, Winter said they attract a lot of clients interested in gender play or cross dressing. Animal Crossing allows for users to easily try on different styles of clothing regardless of gender. Winter said video games make such activities much more accessible.
“Video games have been a way for people to explore their identity for a long time,” they said. “This venue has attracted a lot of young gamers who want to dip their toes into getting dominated. It’s completely safe to submit to someone in an Animal Crossing game – if you don’t like it, you can log off at any moment.”
Dating goes fully digital
Finding a venue for a date can be stressful, and perhaps doubly so during lockdown. But New York-based social media manager Christine Davitt found when connecting with a partner she met on Tinder, Animal Crossing was the perfect low-pressure place to get to know one another.
Davitt said she and her partner had been chatting for hours on Houseparty and other video chat apps when she asked them on a date on Animal Crossing. Despite connecting on other platforms previously, the couple considers it to be their first date.

Christine Davitt, right, and her partner on their first date, which occurred on Animal Crossing. Photograph: Animal Crossing
“It felt liberating to be able to ‘sit’ on a bench together gazing at the moon, to ‘run’ around after each other and chase butterflies, to go ‘fishing’ together behind their house,” she said. “It just felt more real.”
Davitt is not alone – a number of people have been using the platform for dates, one couple used it as a wedding venue, and another user tweeted an Animal Crossing proposal last week.
Now one month after their first date, Davitt and her partner are quarantined together – in real life. They still play Animal Crossing together every day, but now side by side.
Talk show takes to Nintendo
Screenwriter Gary Whitta had been playing Animal Crossing with his wife and daughter for weeks when he decided to recreate a late night talk show set in his game universe.
Whitta set up a desk next to a couch and added a drum set for a live “band”. Now the project, which started as a pretend talk show set in a video game, is attracting real celebrity guests.
Last week he interviewed actress Felicia Day and previously he hosted a live concert with musician Raquel Lily, which 12,000 viewers watched on Twitch, where he streams his shows. He makes the show with the help of his wife Leah Whitta and the show’s video editor Adam Nickerson.

Gary Whitta’s Animal Crossing character sits in the virtual environment he built for his online talk show. Photograph: Animal Crossing
Whitta’s effort to make an in-game talk show comes as actual primetime talk show hosts are being forced to film their own segments at home. “At this point, there’s no difference between what we do and what The Tonight Show does,” Whitta said.
One benefit of Animal Crossing-hosted shows versus the traditional talk show is that guests can participate from anywhere in the world, Whitta said. Recent episodes have hosted guests based in Montpellier, France; New York City; and Canada. Whitta is based in San Francisco.
“Video games are starting to transcend the concept of video games as we understand them,” he said. “They are becoming a part of this idea of the metaverse where they evolve into a place where people go to hang out.”

Gary Whitta (@garywhitta)
#AnimalTalking keeps evolving and the latest evolution is a new high-fidelity version of our theme music provided by its composer and lead saxophonist, the amazing Kenny Fong, and a HYPE intro by our new announcer, the inimitable @SnowBikeMike! I love it. #AnimalCrossing #ACNH
May 4, 2020

Whitta said the popularity of his show and Animal Crossing in general underscores the need for shared community during the ongoing global crisis – whether in person or online.
“I really think Animal Crossing has come into everyone’s life at exactly the right time,” he said. “Everyone is locked in their houses and looking for some kind of escape or a distraction, and Animal Crossing is a game that allows you to escape to this beautiful tropical island paradise where everyone is your friend – it is just the tonic everyone needs right now.”

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Love bytes: how a video game is preparing my boyfriend and me for living together | Life and style – Blog – 10 minute

“I’m going to the mines!” says a voice through my laptop.
It’s my partner, Joel – albeit a pixelated version of him. I see him move swiftly out of the screen as I go back to my task of chopping down an oak tree, searching for wood and sap.
It’s an ordinary mid-pandemic night and Joel and I are both tucked into bed at our respective Sydney share-houses. In truth, neither of us is anywhere near a rare minerals mine and I doubt I have the strength to hack down a tree – even if I wanted to.

But we’re not talking about real life; we’re talking about virtual reality in Stardew Valley – a multi-player farming simulation game that’s sold over 10 million copies, and become our guilty pleasure since physical distancing and lockdowns began.
In this world, we’re co-owners of a thriving farm filled with crops and livestock. Unlike real life, where we don’t share assets, earnings or a house, in Stardew Valley, we’re living a life of cohabitation. We’ve replaced inner-city living with a wooden cabin, created computer-generated friendships based off random gift giving, and exchanged careers in media for specialisations in mining and foraging.

Bec and Joel in real life, before the lockdown began. Photograph: Bec Zhuang
In the Valley, we have a joint income, and we’re constantly discussing when and what we want to spend it on. We plan to renovate our cabin to include a kitchen; we want to upgrade our tools, so we can work more efficiently in our respective fields and we’re constantly weighing up how much we can afford to indulge in novelty hats and accessories just to spice up our wardrobes.
In real life shared decision-making has shared consequences, and so does life in Stardew Valley. If Joel finds himself on zero health after a long day in the mines, we lose 10% of our money. Similarly, if I spent the day foraging, oblivious to my energy levels, I’d find myself passed out with a hefty medical bill taken straight from our joint account.
The life we’re leading in Stardew Valley is milestones ahead of the relationship we have in real-life – even with four years of dating under our belts.

Creating a virtual life together has taught us some important lessons for the future

In the real world, our incomes are completely separate and our personal spending habits vary. I’m more of a Googles-promo-code-before-buying kind of person, while Joel will happily spend money on an indulgent meal or experience without a second thought. The largest financial decision we’ve had to make together is what cut of meat we’re going to share at a restaurant, or what present we’re going to give a friend for their birthday. But that’s not to say this won’t change some day.
Creating a virtual life together has taught us some important lessons for the future. We’re learning that shared financial decisions are a balance of personal and shared priorities. We’re being reminded that relationships, in all their forms, require teamwork.
The other day, when we saw each other in real life, our Stardew Valley selves came out. We were deciding whether to a) cook ourselves or b) get delivery. We both wanted to share a meal, but I was having a hard time justifying spending money when I knew there was perfectly good produce in the fridge. Joel, on the other hand, was desperately trying to satisfy a craving for chicken shish kebabs. In the end, we struck a happy medium: I cooked up some vegetables as sides, Joel ordered up our mains, and we both played a part in creating a dinner to share together.
Of course, not all decisions in life are going to be as easy as “What’s for dinner?”, and they’re certainly not going to be as simple as whether or not we can afford to upgrade an imaginary pick-axe in a videogame.
But with open and frank discussions (both virtually and in real life), we’re preparing ourselves for the future – a future where the questions are not about arbitrary items or imaginary professions, but are about shared spaces, shared assets and a shared livelihood together.
And, if real life is anything like life in the Valley, I can’t wait.

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Covid-19 has robbed the world of so much but it gave us our dream wedding | Alyx Gorman | Life and style – Blog – 10 minute

On 19 March, three things happened at once. Australia made the unprecedented announcement that its borders would close. Our plans to elope fell to pieces, like a virus touching soap. And our reasons for wanting to get married in the first place, much like international borders, hardened from something porous into solid concrete. We wanted the protection of marriage, fast.
My partner and I were born 16,400km apart, in Newton, Massachusetts and Canberra, Australia respectively. This brings a frisson to our relationship – we spend hours swapping notes on the similarities and differences in our social milieus; we always have something to share that the other hasn’t seen; a reason to travel and a reason to come home.

As the daughter of an unwed couple who’ve been together close to 40 years, I’d always been sceptical about marriage. But being with someone from another country has a way of making it seem more like an administrative necessity. It’s not quite a guarantee, but marriage is a magic piece of paper that makes it that much more likely you’ll get to spend the rest of your life with the person you love, regardless of where you’re going, where you’re from, or how quickly you have to get there. With the possibility of tragedy edging closer, we needed that magic.
Between us we’ve lived in three countries and eight cities – there are people we love all over the world. Without an enormous expenditure of capital and carbon, we could never exchange vows without leaving somebody important out. If we eloped, at least everyone could feel equally angry at us.
Meanwhile, the world seemed to flatten – when all your communication takes place on the phone or through a computer screen, it doesn’t matter who lives up the road and who lives a 24-hour flight away.
Early in the evening of 22 March I made a proposal. Micah looked at me as though I was crazy. Then we hit the same wavelength, he called me a genius and pecked me on the lips.
Covid-19 had already robbed the world of thousands of lives, jobs and freedoms – but it could give us our dream wedding. No complex travel arrangements, no savings drained. When most people’s realities have been completely upended, getting married on the internet just didn’t seem that weird any more. We could skip the most painful gut churn of wedding planning – weighing up our love for our friends against the cost of feeding them – and invite anyone who wanted to come. We just had to act fast.

On 25 March we met our celebrant in a park – a “blue-eyed ninja” she called herself, in a black mask and blue rubber – gloves, and within five minutes, standing metres apart, we signed our notice of intended marriage. In Australia you have to fill in this paperwork at least 30 days before your ceremony. We gave ourselves 31 – hoping for the best, but preparing to cancel at any moment.
As soon as the ink dried, it began. With government regulations setting a maximum of five people at weddings we were allowed two more people to join us in person as witnesses to this mad act of hope – I called my event planner friend, a set designer and “human Swiss army knife” Joshua, who would be tasked with turning our kitchen into something resembling an altar.

Alyx and Micah on the night of their engagement
Then we approached Charles, another close friend and videographer, who’d been contemplating setting up a livestreaming business. We wanted to be his first clients.
Although I’d never imagined having one myself, I’ve always loved weddings. I love the dressing up and sense of occasion. But most of all, I love the chance to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. I love their sense of social possibility. I love the embarrassing stories.
I wanted, more than anything, for our guests to have that feeling and I was confident I could find the perfect digital “venue”. Turns out, I was overconfident.
Anyone who’s ever heard a feedback-induced portal to hell open on Zoom is probably aware that, although it is 2020, video conferencing technology never works how it should. Every night for the next week, I experimented with platforms. There was the one that crashed constantly and looked like science fiction from the 70s. There was the one that could ruin the entire ceremony if a single guest failed to hit mute. The one that cost hundreds of dollars and could only be purchased with an annual subscription – that we would be using a grand total of once.
The best option was brand new. It launched around the same time Covid-19 was declared a pandemic. Designed for conferences and expos, the platform is called HopIn. It would allow for a “centre stage” for the ceremony. It would allow for different groups to sit at different “tables”, it would let guests send each other private messages; set up their own video chats and even bump into each other, in a function similar to that late-2000s forest of flashing – Chat Roulette. It looked perfect.
So, as Australia’s curve began to flatten; and America’s began its terrifying ascent, our plans snowballed. Wedding planning became our answer to iso-baking.

We sent the last invitation to our wedding – via Instagram DM – just seven minutes before the ceremony started

Micah learned how to dye my hair, and retouched my roots using a YouTube tutorial. Emily, a makeup artist, spent two hours teaching me how to paint a heavy face over Houseparty. Emma, a stylist, found me shoes and a pearl headdress online with lightning speed. Alex arranged a Zoom bucks and hens night, complete with an embarrassing PowerPoint presentation and a hangover that was anything but virtual. Nadine, who’d been on Micah and my first date, agreed to do a reading. A generous handful of friends, despite the pressures of being parents in confinement, managed to film gorgeous videos of their kids holding foliage so we could have flower children at our ceremony. Micah’s cousin in Chicago, a rabbi, agreed to give us a blessing. My closest friend, locked down in Paris and recovering from coronavirus, sewed a tuxedo for her dog’s favourite toy and turned her puppy into our ring bearer.
But the biggest help came from our families. My 90-year-old grandmother, obeying stay-at-home orders in Sydney, agreed to wrap her head around a new piece of technology in order to give a speech live. “It’s like you’re making an episode of Married at First Sight,” she said on the phone, dryly one day, as I ran her through our to-do list. My mother found me the perfect wedding dress – the nightgown her late mother had worn on the night of her own wedding ceremony in 1952. Using measurements I’d emailed her, she hand-tailored it to fit me. Since our aisle would be the hallway from our bedroom to our kitchen, getting married in pyjamas felt entirely appropriate.
Before the ceremony had even started, more than 40 people from all over the world had helped us make it happen. Lying in bed at night, Micah and I quietly wondered again and again whether we’d made the right decision. The thought of doing something so intimate and optimistic, in front of so many people, when the world was in such turmoil, made us both feel anxious. But then our inbox would ping from an invitee telling us how excited they were to be included, and our nerves would settle.

The home wedding altar. Photograph: Anna Turner
On the day of our wedding, I was running late. My friend had arranged a “bridal prep” breakfast, complete with pink champagne and some of the people closest to me. My hands were trembling as I did my makeup. I glued my eyelids together trying to insert false lashes. I screamed and swore, and ran through our final rehearsal with blurry vision. I left my phone on the floor and showed my bridal party my underpants as I stepped over it in a panic. But seeing their faces on screen together – from Sydney, Canberra, New York, London and Paris, but all right there with me – brought on a wave of calm.

We sent the last invitation to our wedding – via Instagram DM – just seven minutes before the ceremony started. And somehow, despite all the technical hurdles and physical barriers, miraculously removed by two tech support angels who offered to help even though they didn’t know us, it all worked out.
To be a bride is to be on display, but it was still confronting to see myself as our guests saw me, in a tiny screen, weeping. As our celebrant mentioned the horror of the world around us in this moment, I locked eyes with Joshua. Coronavirus had taken someone close to him but still he was prepared to be there for us on this day; making lemonade out of bitter fruit.
After the ceremony and speeches, we socialised with guests. I cheered when two of our friends – whose own vows had been delayed by the virus – stood up wearing full tuxedos on top with underpants and socks on the bottom. As we answered questions, our guests were talking to each other. My boss met my parents. People ran into exes, they offended each other with off-colour jokes. They saw old friends for the first time in years and made new connections.

A socially distanced bouquet toss. Photograph: Anna Turner
When the event concluded, we wandered the neighbourhood for photographs. On the street, the few cars that passed honked. A friend down the road walked by for a moment to catch my bouquet. Our inbox filled with pictures of our 400 or so guests; with messages of love, and gossip from the event.
I crackled with nerves from the magnitude of it all, and clung close to my new husband. We ate cake, delivered by yet another friend, and kissed on the floor of our ersatz chapel. We revelled in our ability to be with each other that night, in a way that would not have been possible if our guests had been there too. At one point, I lay on the bathroom floor in silence, encoding the magnitude of what we’d entered into. I could never have handled being a bride in real life.
But we’d managed to skip past all the parts of a wedding that made us most stressed, and keep the parts that mattered to us. If only we could have hugged our guests afterwards.
On our first day as husband and wife, we lay in bed watching movies. We read the chatlog from our event and laughed at the highlights. No one asked us when we would have “a real wedding”. Beaming into the homes of everyone we love, from the home we built together, it felt about as real as it gets.

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COVID-19: Max Life sells over twenty four thousand policies using the digital-offline combo- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

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Max Life Insurance is the fourth largest life insurer in the country. Recently Axis Bank’s board approved to acquire 29 percent stake in the company. Due to the lockdown, Max Life has renewed the focus on digital sales and has trained approximately thirty five thousand employees on digital sales. Max Life Insurance has historically invested in remote infrastructure. A secure VDI, VPN infrastructure was already operational. Secondly, in a pre-emptive action, the company had procured additional digital assets, in the background of the way the coronavirus was spreading globally. “Thus as soon as the lockdown was announced, we were able to get over seven thousand employees to work from home, with close to three thousand concurrent connections,” says Suhail Ghai, EVP & Head – Information Technology, Max Life Insurance. The backend links were upgraded to support the surge in the number of employees accessing the network remotely. A novel way was employed towards that end. “We used the DR and datacentre links to almost triple our existing capacities. Over six hundred laptops were procured and home delivered to the employees and all of this was done in just 4-5 days,” informs Ghai.The financial year end is in the month of March and the proactive approach resulted in achieving over eighty percent efficiency with respect to the business transactions in the same period. The company’s partners – both working remotely and inhouse were also enabled appropriately with implementing their BCP. The shared services team worked effectively with them – be it about getting the epasses or about shipping them the right devices. Servicing customers  The customers can be viewed in two ways – customer servicing and new business acquisition. As with other businesses, Max Life too faced difficulties in adapting to a situation, which involves a complete breakdown of physical interaction between the customers and the company. However, the agents were able to quickly adjust themselves to the new reality. “Using a combination of offline and digital medium, we sold more than twenty four thousand policies in the last week of March. The salesforce has come to speed with digital selling and the company is also investing more in upskilling them. On the customer servicing side, the total transactions have increased on the digital channel by over fifty percent since the lockdown. The customer queries are addressed through WhatsApp, IVR, chabot and the website,” informs Suhail. The company’s swiftness in procuring digital assets and the salesforce to be able to get a hang of digital selling quickly helped in making the rebound. Moreover the data processing centres were unaffected because of proactive steps taken with the outsourcing partners to work on their BCP. For certain users, data cards were also procured because they didn’t had a good last mile bandwidth.Going forwardCompanies will try and optimise costs in keeping-the-lights-on infrastructure and investments will flow more into the digitisation efforts and the associated platforms. “We will invest more in the digital assets to engage with the customers. Whatever skills are required to fulfill the strategy, will be hired,” says Suhail.When asked about organising the necessary initiatives to keep the information security and privacy intact, Suhail says all the necessary action will be taken for securing the digital assets.
How various insurance companies respondend to COVID-19ICICI LombardBajaj Allianz General InsuranceICICI DirectEdelweiss Tokio Life InsurancePNB MetLife InsuranceSBI General InsuranceIndiaFirst Life InsuranceCanara HSBC Oriental Bank of Commerce Life InsuranceShriram General Insurance

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Ok Zoomer: how seniors are learning to lead more digital lives | Life and style – Blog – 10 minute

“I used to look at some people using WhatsApp video and think, I wonder what that’s all about,” says 74-year-old Jillian Cheetham. “Now, you know, I’ve discovered it’s pretty easy.”
Her book club, which has been going for 10 years, has just had its first Zoom meeting. “It was lovely to be together again and feel that we can keep on going,” Cheetham says.

“There’s no wine and cheese on the table or tea and cake at the end of it, it’s not as much fun when it’s virtual. But we’re discussing a book we all really enjoyed. And, apart from a few hitches like some people’s frames freezing, it was really, really satisfying.”
A few short weeks ago, that would have been unthinkable.
“Technology wasn’t really relevant until perhaps the last 25% of my career,” says Cheetham, a former high school teacher, business owner and financial industry professional.
“There was no training whatsoever. And if my computer wasn’t turning on I’d ring IT and they’d sort it out. Up until about 2000 you could learn the program specific to what you needed to do. There wasn’t a need to go beyond that if you didn’t want to.”
But that’s all had to change for her generation: “We’ve been forced to encounter technology in a very different way if we want to continue to have any quality of life.”
The need to connect is precisely what’s driving many seniors to do just that, according to RMIT’s Dr Torgeir Aleti, who’s researching how technology helps support connectedness and social inclusion among older people.
This confirms what he and his colleagues have suspected for a long time: “It’s just a stereotype that is constantly perpetuated, that seniors don’t know this stuff.
“The idea that it’s not for me, I don’t have the skills, or the resources, or I’m afraid of being bullied, or of doing something wrong – these things are now being pushed into the background because we’re in a situation where it’s that or just patting the cat for two weeks while I’m waiting to … go out again,” Aleti says.
Many are turning to younger generations for help, with mixed results.

I find the best teachers are people of my own generation. That seems to work best for me

Jillian Cheetham

“Over the phone, it’s, ah, it always starts off civil, and I always begin with the intention that somehow I’ll be able to solve her problem for her,” says Cheetham’s daughter, Naomi. “But as you know personally with technology, sometimes it becomes overwhelming, no matter how tech-savvy you may be.”
Tasks that could easily be demonstrated in person quickly turn into a multi-step tangle of complicated workarounds – like talking someone through using Zoom for the first time.
“I taught her to do a video call on WhatsApp first, and how to switch her camera around so I could see what she was doing on her screen rather than her face. It was an enormously clunky way to do it,” Naomi says.
“That’s when I realised she’d need a cheat sheet. I used the Snipping tool to show all the screens. It was like Ikea instructions – as few words as possible.”
Her mother sent that on to others, who passed it on to their friends too.
“Naomi is great,” Cheetham says, “I can’t sing her praises enough.”
But … “I find the best teachers are people of my own generation. That seems to work best for me, anyway.”
Glen Wall, the vice-president of U3A Network Victoria, agrees.
He’s seen a remarkable uptake in technology among members of the University of the Third Age organisation, which runs courses for older people, and has been moving classes online since early March. In less than three weeks 15 tutors in his area of Whittlesea were running sessions over Zoom, taking about half their students – the early adapters – with them. Wall says a second wave is now coming onboard.

U3A students join a remote ukulele class on Zoom
“People are sort of socially figuring it out,” he says. “I know of a 94-year-old … who talked his 93-year-old mate into buying his old iPad off him. He bought a new one and he’s taught his mate to push that button so he can talk to him every morning.”
“Community connecters” are crucial to spreading the knowledge.
“They’ll be the sort of person that can use technology or find out how to, and then have the ability or passion to share the experience,” Wall says.
One such person is U3A member Awhina Te Amo, a full-time carer for her 70-year-old mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease. Before social distancing, Te Amo accompanied her mother to line dancing, choir, tap dancing, chair aerobics and tai chi. Now a lot of it is virtual.
“We also stay connected with others through WhatsApp, email, and I’m currently working on a YouTube channel,” Te Amo says. “We have a little group on Facebook and I’m teaching others what I’ve been learning. I’m just passing on the knowledge as best as I can.”

Relying on a trusted circle of people is the key to solving many technology dilemmas, according to Wall. “If a person talks about what they are looking to do – not how – in their group of friends, they will most likely find someone that’s actually done it. And that person will show them.”
Meanwhile, Cheetham is persevering with the unfamiliar. “If there’s one thing this coronavirus is going to do, it’s going to shift the balance from interactions more strongly in the direction of tech communication,” she says.
“So it’s one thing to prefer something else, but to be functional my generation are going to have to do it.”
Tech support for seniors
U3A Online and RMIT’s Shaping Connections project are both great places for older Australians to start building their technological skills. The federal government also has helpful resources, including an e-safety page for seniors; a number of short courses with detailed instructions on everything from online shopping to using apps; and a series of webinars about staying safe online.

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‘I love fame’: how Caroline Calloway survived being cancelled | Life and style- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

‘I love fame’: how Caroline Calloway survived being cancelled | Life and style- Tempemail – Blog –

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It is hard to imagine Caroline Calloway being of any time before the internet – like picturing a present-day Joan of Arc. She laughs when I tell her so.
“Oh my God, are you kidding me? Caroline Calloway born in medieval Europe would be so fucking screwed. I’d be in the town square with a stack of pamphlets about what I ate for breakfast, being like ‘Hear ye, hear ye’. It would be a nightmare – mainly for the other villagers. I’d be living my truth.”
Calloway is arguably the world’s most infamous influencer. You may recognise her from her disastrous creativity workshops, for which she charged $165 a head and was branded a “scammer”; or from the tell-all essay her former friend Natalie wrote about their turbulent relationship – a she-said/she-said that is still ongoing.

When both went viral last year, Calloway was transformed from an aspiring memoirist who overshared on Instagram to a one-woman soap opera the entire internet loved to hate-watch. Who is Caroline Calloway, went several headlines, and why can’t the internet stop talking about her?
There are now 2,250,000 Google results for her name. Even seven months on from the publication of the Cut’s essay about her, the 28-year-old continues to captivate corners of social media.
Her critics loathe her for her self-absorption, her privilege, her perceived attention-seeking and questionable cash-grabs. Her fans love her for her willingness to draw them into her intimacy, her prettiness and pluckiness. Neither can look away.
If anything, Calloway’s “real life” is on the internet – especially now, a few weeks into isolating alone in her grandmother’s condo in Sarasota, Florida. Her social media output, always prolific, has reached new heights.
When I first reach Calloway by phone, I find her engrossed in making “internet art” from a snapshot of her and Natalie – scrambling their faces, she explains breathlessly, for her Instagram grid: “I’m very excited about it!”
I am reminded of how Calloway began her long-awaited “Natalie response”, her own take on the harms done during their friendship which also highlights Natalie’s part in building her public profile.
An online publication (she declines to say which) had offered her a “really big sum” for the essay: “It’s bankable clicks, whatever I wrote.” But in response to the worsening pandemic, she pulled out to self-publish the piece as a fundraiser for charity.

Caroline Calloway: ‘People care about such bizarre and specific things about me.’ Photograph: Zack Wittman/The Guardian
My call finds Calloway ebullient after having raised $20,000 for the frontline medical organisation Direct Relief from the first installment. (Over a month, the total comes close to $50,000.) She tells me she celebrated by putting her phone down, pouring herself a glass of bubbly and eating two entire jars of caviar – “like a Russian oligarch”.
But as she goes on to speak about her experience of cancel culture – the pain of having her drug addiction turned into popcorn-fodder for the internet by her former friend, the vitriolic trolls she describes as “crusading for justice” against her – it becomes clear that her sense of achievement is tempered by frustration. No matter what she does, she can’t win.
Take her fundraiser: some on social media have speculated that it was a scam – and then, after Calloway posted evidence of the donations, a cynical tax break. It reflects the consensus of Calloway’s “snark community”, as she calls those online critics keeping tabs on her every move: she cannot be trusted, and she is only ever out to benefit herself.
“I wasn’t thinking about taxes,” she says. “I wasn’t even thinking about my own bills.” It was actually “sort of a sacrifice” to share the essay now, knowing that it would get less coverage. “I really believe in karma – I just hope this good will find its way back to me someday,” Calloway sighs.
But I wonder if, in focusing on her lost press, Calloway might be selling herself short. In publishing her counter-statement now, as the rest of us have been forced into quarantine – she has a captive audience.
True to fragmented internet fame, Calloway still has little name recognition beyond her own following and the small subsection of society who consider themselves “extremely online”. Of them, however, many will know everything there is to know about her.
“People care about such bizarre and specific things about me,” she says, not without pride. Much of it is vigorously contested, from the mystery fate of the Yale plates given to her by Natalie, to Calloway’s claim to be the youngest-ever person to have their kneecaps removed (the latter was grounds for more than one online investigation, and Calloway’s mother has confirmed the surgery to a reporter).
“You know what’s so, so rich about the kneecaps thing is that I was so fucking mocked for this in middle school,” she says merrily. “If I could travel back in time I’d tell my heartbroken little third-grader self, ‘OK, bad news. The teasing is going to get a lot worse.’
By her own admission, Calloway stokes those conversations, if only by providing continual fuel. Trying to keep up with her online is like trying to note the particulars of running water.
Whenever you look at Twitter, she’s just tweeted. Often it is a retweet of a quote-tweet of her own tweet – Caroline begetting Caroline like a little nest of Russian dolls, all bearing the beatific expression in her profile picture.
On Instagram, her life is serialised for an audience of 700,000 people, both in real time and in the long, stylised picture captions she claims to have pioneered.

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A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on Aug 13, 2019 at 12:23pm PDT

“>She is often asked about how she can possibly cope with people knowing her private business. “The easiest way to explain it is that I just always wanted to write about my life, I wanted to be famous,” she says. “The idea that my life would be something I shared with the public wasn’t just something that I assumed – it was something that I actively wanted. I still want it.”
Born Caroline Calloway Gotschall in Falls Church, Virginia, an upper-middle-class suburb of Washington DC, at 17 she changed her name to one that would “look better on books”.
When she joined Instagram in 2012, Calloway began experimenting with growing her following with input (sometimes paid) from her friend Natalie Beach, another creative writing student at NYU. She honed her winning formula of “beautiful photos with sort of sad or lonely captions” while studying abroad at Cambridge University from 2013 to 2016.
Calloway had always aspired to being an Ivy League student, even keeping a “Yale box” stuffed with motivational memorabilia. But after she was rejected from Yale four times and then “for life”, Calloway was accepted into Cambridge on her third attempt. It is there that she first became known for her Instagram presence, depicting a fairytale life of “Harry Potter-like castles, Jane Austen-like balls” and punting on the River Cam.
Her breathless “#adventuregrams” inspired derision in her fellow students – “Cambridge fanfiction”, one called it – and distracted from her studies in art history. (She has said she graduated with “a second class”, widely interpreted to mean a 2.2 – the so-called “drinker’s degree”.)
Calloway did not mind. In two years, her following of 210,000 tripled in size, and she was trying to turn her Instafame into a publishing deal.

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A post shared by Caroline Calloway (@carolinecalloway) on Apr 7, 2014 at 10:59am PDT

“>Had Calloway gone viral as a publishing success story, not a scammer, it is easy to imagine her being praised for her dogged pursuit of her dreams.
Back in New York the summer after her first year at Cambridge, her Instagram boosted by 250,000 new followers, Calloway engineered a meeting with star literary agent Byrd Leavell by pretending to his secretary to already be his client. (Leavell has since called her “deeply unwell” and dishonest.)
With his help, her memoir sold in 2016 for $375,000; foreign deals took the total above $500,000. But at the time 24-year-old Calloway was increasingly addicted to Adderall, an ADHD medication she had started taking recreationally in late 2011.
“They were delicious,” she says breezily now. “I mean, don’t get me wrong, they murdered my life and I’ll never touch it again – but drugs are fun.”
Calloway called on Beach to help co-write the book proposal, as she had her early Instagram posts. These collaborations formed the basis of Beach’s later claim to have been Calloway’s ghostwriter.
By spring 2017, Calloway says she was taking Adderall in such quantities as to be at risk of a fatal overdose: “I was really counting my sleeping pills to do the math right.” Later that year she publicly reneged on the deal with Flatiron Books, paid back most of the advance, and began her recovery from addiction.
Calloway says Flatiron still owns the rights to her story of her time at Cambridge and that, though that “dark, messy book” is not imminent, they are prepared to wait.
About 18 months later, shortly into 2019, she found herself going viral for her disastrous attempt at a global tour of “creativity workshops”. Venues weren’t booked, promised perks were downgraded or not delivered, and Calloway sought unpaid labour despite charging $165 a head. She became instantly infamous as a “one-woman Fyre festival” and a scammer akin to the socialite con artist Anna Delvey.
The backlash was the first time Calloway had lost control of the crowd she had courted. In response she cancelled all but two events and refunded all tickets, blaming her “total inexperience with event planning and GREED”. She reattempted the workshops in August, billing them as “The Scam” of which she had been accused.
Many attendees said they were satisfied, even for $165; “I would have paid MORE!” wrote one. But journalists questioned charging such a sum for a meet-and-greet. The same criticism is made of her charging $140 for her art, a pastiche of Matisse’s Blue Nude II.
There are two persistent complaints, says Calloway, with weary authority. “One is that I take people’s money, which I don’t – I’m really on top of making sure everyone’s a satisfied customer. Then there’s the idea that I charge too much, and like I’m somehow tricking people into buying stuff from me.
“Those people fundamentally do not understand the business model of an online creator.”
At the heart of what seems to rile many about Calloway is her apparent privilege. Her great-grandfather, a real estate mogul, once owned most of Sarasota; she has described herself as being “born into material wealth”, but denies being rich herself.
Last year a Vice reporter was moved to investigate how Calloway paid rent and found court evidence that she had often struggled. Between paying for a Greenwich Village apartment, thrice-weekly therapy, and a web developer to manage donations, Calloway says now: “I am so fucked in terms of income flow.”
She adds that she eschews sponsored content, many influencers’ bread-and-butter: “Selling my audience’s attention … it just doesn’t sit right with me.” Yet her critics keep score of her purchases (pedigree kittens, a trip to Berlin, an expensive ring) and confront her with them whenever she attempts to monetise her following.

‘I don’t really mind if people think I’m a bad writer, if they don’t understand my weird Instagram performance art or they find my long captions annoying.’ Photograph: Zack Wittman/The Guardian
To the world at large, the “Scammergate” debacle remains proof of Calloway’s shameless profiteering. Just this morning, she says, she blocked an anonymous Twitter troll for “tweeting at me over and over for not providing food” at the workshops. (She did.)
But it was over a year ago, I say, confused – and unless they attended, why do they care?
Calloway explodes. “I KNOW,” she nearly screams, her voice distorting on the line. “Oh my God, I am going to go Incredible Hulk on my grandmother’s condo if we keep talking about this. Like, flip the dinner table over.”
She takes a deep breath. “I love fame. I love being written about. I don’t really mind if people think I’m a bad writer, if they don’t understand my weird Instagram performance art or they find my long captions annoying. That’s part of the package of being in the public eye, and honestly I find it exhilarating.”
What is hard, Calloway says, her voice quavering, is delineating where the standard scrutiny of celebrity should end.
“A lot of people tell me to shut up, ‘don’t play the victim’ – but when you Google my name, the related searches are criminals,” she says, with mounting incredulity. “It’s not normal to be famous and to be associated with criminals who are literally in jail, when I myself am a law-abiding memoirist!”
It is true that, if the conventional wisdom is “don’t feed the trolls”, Calloway’s never go wanting. She continues to engage with her critics lustily, and at length.
Her tendency to single out individual journalists has led to accusations of bullying; a T-shirt she made targeting one by name (“Stop hate-following me”) was pulled from sale for harassment.
Even her supporters can find their goodwill tested – such as when Calloway likened the backlash against her workshops to being diagnosed with cancer. When a fan said it was insensitive, Calloway defended it as “good art”: “If you don’t like my free content, you can unfollow me.”
Instead many opt to steep themselves in their hatred of her – and find company in doing so. There are now two groups dedicated to “Caroline snark” in Reddit, each with 5,000 active members, whose conspiracy theories and vitriolic pursuit seem to suggest obsession.
They will even rally en masse against journalists they see as being sympathetic to her. The New York Times’ Taylor Lorenz was inundated with abuse for her assumed association with Calloway, despite having never reported on her.
Calloway likens her “snark community” to rightwing trolls “who feel so passionately, and so righteously, that they’re crusading for justice”. It is hard not to get the sense that not only do they want her to go away – they want her to suffer.
“Of all the hands for a suicidal depressive to have been dealt, having so many people want them to not exist – the irony almost seems cruel,” says Calloway grimly. “A lot of people do want me to just stop being, period.”
Calloway has been diagnosed with general anxiety disorder and depression. She says she inherited mental illness from her father, William Gotschall, who she describes as a bipolar, paranoid agoraphobe. Weathering his bouts of “black rage” when she was a child led Calloway to believe that “we should take people seriously when they are host to a brain that wants to kill them”.
After her workshops went viral, Calloway started taking antidepressants. Nonetheless, for seven months she was a “wreck”: “Nothing had ever hurt that bad.” She read Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, “one page at a time, having to take breaks to wipe my tears. I didn’t know how I’d get through it.”
Calloway continues to take an SSRI daily; “A silver lining to that cancellation: it made me reconsider my approach to pills.” Her experience of addiction had left her leery of prescription drugs. Over about a year from May 2017, she had “all but disappeared from Instagram”, working through recovery steps with a therapist.
The following March, Calloway sent Beach a heartfelt apology for being a “trainwreck” during their friendship, and expressed hope that they could begin anew and “make something beautiful out of the mess”.
A month later Beach replied, accepting Calloway’s apology, and kindly but firmly refusing to resurrect their friendship. Calloway remembers sobbing as she read Beach’s email – but, she says, “I respected that boundary.”
When Beach’s essay I Was Caroline Calloway was published 18 months later, it made no mention of Calloway’s apology or their empathetic email exchange. Instead it dwelled on Calloway’s offhand slights, erratic behaviour and broken promises – culminating in Beach being abandoned by Calloway at a bar in Amsterdam and spending the night on the street.
Many readers praised the essay as a relatable account of a lopsided friendship not uncommon in one’s 20s. “If you can’t identify the Caroline Calloway in all of your female friendships, then you are the Caroline Calloway” was one assessment.
Only a minority voiced discomfort at the gleeful reception of what seemed to be a voyeuristic account of an unwell young woman. Roxane Gay – not one to shy from drama – damned Beach’s essay as “quite a white girl journey. And rather depressing.”
Calloway says Beach reduced her to the stereotypical self-obsessed influencer, the sum of “the dumbest shit” she had said in sophomore year. “She really flattens me into a one-dimensional villain. It’s not confusing about who’s the plucky underdog and who’s the maniacal, vapid bitch.
“Most of all, when I talk about being stripped of humanity …” Calloway grows somber. “Her essay is over 6,000 words long – yet she doesn’t use the words ‘mental illness’ or ‘addiction’ once.”
The only mention of her addiction was forced by Calloway to a factchecker; she also clarified Beach’s passing mention of her threatening suicide.
“I don’t think that my depression or my addiction excuses or undoes or makes up for any of the ways that I hurt Natalie – her hurt is very real, and my bad decisions were very real. Five years later I am still knitting together the broken pieces of my life,” says Calloway, her voice wobbling.
But, she says, she was “floored with pain” to see her suicidal ideation “scrubbed from the record”: “I was shocked.”
(When reached for comment, Natalie Beach said she “chose to tell the story solely through my perspective, feeling that it would be presumptuous and irresponsible to otherwise diagnose or label a person I hadn’t spoken to in two years. She mentioned the suicide threat “because it was directed at me personally, and marked the moment I stopped writing her book and the end of our working relationship”.)

I don’t think that my depression or my addiction excuses any of the ways that I hurt Natalie – her hurt is very real

The week the essay was published, Calloway’s father died by deliberate overdose of painkillers at their family home. She says he was close to bankruptcy, and had recently been discharged from a psychiatric hospital after having his petition to stay hospitalised denied.
In a later installment of her Natalie response, Calloway confronts her father’s suicide in moving but graphic detail, with pictures of the autopsy report and the scene. Though it is affecting writing, one imagines that a compassionate editor would have urged Calloway to reconsider for her own good.
“If I’m not ready to open something up to the scrutiny of the internet, I don’t write about it,” says Calloway. “Natalie made public, for the first time, the fact that I’d struggled with suicide. I really wasn’t ready to talk about that publicly.”

‘I know all the hours of work that it took to get here. And I don’t mean just writing posts – I also means the hours I cried myself to sleep, because the literal news was saying what a bad person I am.’ Photograph: Zack Wittman/The Guardian
It speaks to the bottomless appetite for “Calloway content” online that, even at 6,000 words, Beach’s essay proved the Cut’s best-read piece of 2019 – above E Jean Carroll’s accusing Donald Trump of rape.
Beach had pitched her side of the story in the wake of Calloway’s first “cancellation”, and was paid at least $5,000 (says Calloway). “Sometimes I feel like the best thing I can do for Natalie is to just let her capitalise on me, you know?” says Calloway – a putdown so masterful, I am momentarily left breathless.
What often goes unacknowledged is that, by online metrics of success, Calloway is a rising tide that lifts all boats. Tweets about her go viral. Stories about her get read. After Beach’s essay was published, Calloway was briefly a bigger search term on Google than the British prime minister, Boris Johnson.
This seems to have led to a perception of Calloway as an online commodity, or as fair game. Even Jameela Jamil – an outspoken campaigner for kindness, and no stranger to online pile-ons – unthinkingly joined in on the Calloway-bashing on a recent podcast. Calloway’s own theory on why she is so polarising is that she is too open about her flaws: “When I pretended my life was perfect at Cambridge, I never got any hate. I do think the more vulnerable you are online, the more vulnerable you make yourself to criticism.” It is true that, more than many in the influencer economy, she is less concerned with presenting an aspirational image than the work of maintaining it.

Sometimes I feel like the best thing I can do for Natalie is to just let her capitalise on me, you know?

“I made such smart early investments in Instagram,” she says, describing how she bought fake followers (before it was stigmatised) to boost her profile and advertised on Harry Potter fan communities to attract readers already “predisposed to become obsessed with what they read”.
If she overweights these achievements, it may be because people are so disinclined to give her any credit. Today Instagram is arguably the most influential social media platform in the world; Calloway used it for storytelling when it was dismissed as “Twitter for people who can’t read”, and understood the value of commodifying herself long before respected writers followed suit.
Calloway says she feels justified in monetising her audience, not least because of all that she gives away for free. “I know all the hours of work that it took to get here. And I don’t mean just writing posts – I also means the hours I cried myself to sleep, because the literal news was saying what a bad person I am.”
Surviving cancellation, Calloway says, “is much like getting caught in a riptide. If you fight against it, you will expend all your energy, and you will drown … I think it’s so unfair that people look at the ways that I let myself be carried by the current – the only other choice being to let it break me.” (I later find that her analogy borrows generously from her idol, Taylor Swift.)
She appeals to me directly: “How would you feel about yourself if we woke up in a world where your name was replaced with my name?”
I would get off the internet, I say, truthfully, and she laughs.
In fact, the tide seems to be turning in Calloway’s favour, just as she learned to swim. She tells me excitedly she was texting an ex the other day (“I’m horny as fuck in quarantine, I’m ‘reaching out’ to everyone”) who told her that it has “never been more popular” to like her.
It is possible that the virulence of her trolls has turned public sentiment towards her – or, as Calloway suggests, that her return to Twitter has shown people that she is self-aware and funny: “No one can roast me better than I roast myself.”
But it could be that the rest of the world has finally met her on her chaotic terms. From social media it seems that, during lockdown, there is greater appreciation for Calloway’s constant spectacle. The internet has always been her world; now, increasingly, we are living in it.
“During this quarantine, I feel almost a burden to be entertaining more than ever,” says Calloway. “Chaos is a weakness of mine – but it can also be a strength.”
The next day, not 12 hours after our interview, I check Twitter and find it in meltdown: Calloway has posted an uncensored, full-frontal nude of herself and made it her pinned tweet – equivalent to hanging a framed print on your front door.
It was, she wrote, a “humble apology” for those who had paid for her essay expecting it to be 15,000 words and only got 6,000. That was a “really funny joke”, Calloway patiently explains when I call her a few days later. “The apology part was like when the pizza delivery boy shows up in the first minute of porn – it had nothing to do with what’s about to happen.”
In reality, the nude was her small way of compensating for the loss of a Playboy shoot that was slated for this spring: “I’d really adjusted to the idea of the internet seeing my nipples.”
So, I persevere – was the nude to build hype for her essay?
I can almost hear Calloway shrug. Then she says something so spectacularly Caroline Calloway, I think maybe she could be a genius. “You could just as easily say the essay was hype for the nude.”

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