Sunnier Side of the Office – December 4, 2019

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"I wanted Christmas to be perfect, but for a lot of different reasons, it didn't always end up working out well, coming from such a dysfunctional family. So I think when I wrote it, I just put every ounce of longing for that perfect moment in it." 

- Mariah Carey, talking about the songwriting process for her Christmas mega-hit, "All I Want for Christmas is You". The song (yes, the song) has it's own documentary airing on Amazon later this month. 

“And the Winner for 2019’s Word of the Year is…”
By: Ben Thomas

The end of the year is nigh and with it comes a litany of lists, from Spotify Wrapped’s year in review, to the best movies of 2019, to things-I-regret-doing-at-the-holiday-party. Or for the linguistically inclined, the Macquarie Dictionary’s words of the year, the terms that sum up the past year’s zeitgeist in a neat little package.

This year’s top honor was bestowed to “cancel culture”, a topic that’s as contentious as calling a two-letter phrase a “word of the year”. From op-eds and countless social media posts, to the former President weighing in, cancel culture is hotly debated. Some argue that its political correctness gone awry, an echo chamber of moralizing and a badge of “wokeness” that shuts down important conversations in lieu of having them. Others point to a movement of holding the powerful accountable for behaviors and comments that have gone unchecked for too long, predominantly through social media.

It’s a tricky topic, and part of a broader conversation which is much too complex to get into here. Whether you're Taylor Swift, James Charles or Louis CK, and whatever your personal views are on "cancel culture", its naming as word of the year shows how pervasive it's become in 2019.

Customer Service Goes Both Ways
By: Jiho Chung

Wonder why sometimes you’re on hold with customer service for what seems like forever and a day? It just might have to do with your consumer rating than “the unprecedented call volume at the moment.”

The article speaks to how companies rate consumers based on trustworthiness, high spend potential, and product return likelihood among others to prioritize services for more valued customers and point to fraudulent activities. For example, Sift, the main company featured, can produce a file of your transaction history worth over hundreds of pages based on 16,000 factors for brands like Airbnb, OKCupid, and Yelp. This detailed information helps brands better identify stolen credit cards and abusive behavior towards product and/or property.

For the most part, these files aren’t shared or sold to third parties; but, you can request access to yours (in the article), which most companies will honor thanks to the California Consumer Privacy Act. The Consumer Education Foundation is seeking the Federal Trade Commission to help expose companies that are abusing this information for discrimination towards both customers and potential employees.

In the end, as Barry Unswoth once said “A little kindness goes a long way,” it can’t be more evident as our digital footprint grows more each day.

Twitter Announces—and then Retracts—Plans to Remove Inactive Accounts
By: Jessica Bedussi 

Last week, Twitter announced plans to remove accounts inactive for more than 6 months. This decision drove outrage from Twitter users and sparked lots of conversation surrounding blind spots in this plan.

Most notably, users pointed out accounts of deceased users would be removed along with all of the content they posted. Friends and family logged into such accounts to reluctantly tweet something out in order to avoid losing the tweets, images, and stories from their loved ones. Others pointed out a potential loss of history specifically losing records of revolutions that played out on Twitter. 

But almost as quickly as Twitter announced the removal, it tweeted a decision to halt deleting accounts until a plan was in place to memorialize accounts of the deceased.

This news was received well by users but others pointed out additionals factors that should be considered including accounts of those incarcerated.

How much did Americans spend this past Monday, aka Cyber Monday? According to Adobe Analytics, US consumers shelled out $9.4 billion, surpassing the previous record of $7.9 billion set last year.
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