Abe must write because, by doing so, he is able to play god and all the morons receive just retribution.
And because everybody lives up to his (high) expectations and if they do not, they dieeeeeeee.
Conclusively, this will make for a better world.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Neopets & Nepotism

When I first heard the word 'nepotism' used, the memories came flooding back of the countless hours I spent as a child on Neopets. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Neopets is a website where you have ownership of up to four virtual pets (which are all random cross-breed looking creatures). You buy your pets clothes, food, toys etc... It's not as boring (and sad) as it sounds but, if you really want to know more, Google.

ANYWAY. At this point, I must apologise if you feel like you have been lulled here under false pretences, because you have. This is not a post that will wholly deliver on your wishes to reminisce about your childhood days on Neopets with my anecdotes on how I so desperately wanted to hack my Chinese friends' accounts and steal their millions of Neopoints (why do the Chinese have to be the best at everything?!?!) so I could be a millionaire too. I'm not still bitter about this, I swear. Who knows, maybe I'll find a way to link this with Neopets at the end.

Nepotism: The practice among those with power or influence of favouring relatives or friends.

In short, it is how society works. As we've heard for many years, 'it's who you know, not what you know'. Nepotism seems to be something that people tend to frown upon and although in some aspects I can understand their qualms, on the whole, it's something I have come to understand, accept and embrace. If we were to act in the way that those who frown upon nepotism wanted, in practce it would mean that one works to get somewhere despite having the opportunity for an easy road to get to that place. Why on Earth would a rational thinking human being do more work than absolutely necessary?

The down side of nepotism, of course, is that it inevitably leads to what most of us dislike: low quality. My personal pet hate is terrible films. I can't help but assume that the culprit (specifically screenwriter) must have known someone who knew someone who... You get the point. But can I knock that person for abusing a link they had? How can I? Would I not do the same? I certainly would, whether I believed I was deserving, good enough, talented enough, if it was what I wanted to, I shamelessly admit that I would absolutely take up that opportunity and I reckon it's the same for most people. 

And for this reason, I can't frown on the opportunists that take advantage of their links, in fact, I applaud them. You do what you've got to do to get to where you need to get to. And my greatest respects goes to those who use Nepotism to do great things, like film producers David & Megan Ellison, children of the sixth wealthiest man in the world Larry Ellison. David produced the latest Mission Impossible movie, Megan produced recent cinema hits Lawless and Killing Them Softly as well as owning the rights to the Terminator franchise and, together, they produced the critically-acclaimed True Grit that was nominated for 10 Oscars. This doesn't show the full picture, with both having a string of failed movies before finally reaching the success they have today. But they got there eventually.

Some are fortunate to be born with links, others are able to perservere in pursuit of links. Both are still culpable of the same failures. We all have to be able to step up to the plate and prove ourselves when the opportunity present itself.

Being true to my word, I will finish this story with a Neopets anecdote. Remember those Chinese friends I had who were millionaires in that virtual world? A couple years down the line, they got bored of being millionaires and donated some millions to me. That's right. I became a millionaire on Neopets.

Nepotism is basically how society works. If you don't like it, oh well. If you can't beat 'em - which, just to clarify, you cannot - then join 'em (or stew away angrily, at the bottom of society albeit).

I made it in life.

P.S. I can't even remember my damn Neopets password anymore so I am, effectively, (one of) the richest men in the cemetery.

Currently listening to: KRS One - Step Into a World


  1. It's worth noting that the example you used from the Oxford Online Dictionary quotes nepotism and corruption in the same sentence. In fact, the Oxford Thesarus suggests that the following synonyms be used: preferential treatment, keeping it in the family, the old boy network, looking after one's own, bias, partiality, partisanship, patronage, unfairness, jobs for the boys, the old school tie.

    I'm not sure why 'inequitability' is not in that list.

    You're right. That is how the world works. But should it? Nepotism, as you rightly point out, leads to a lowering of standards, a group of 'untouchables' throughout our society. Is that really what we want? If we, as human beings, want to pursue the best we can be, is not meritocracy better? Surely nepotism is only a slight sidestep right towards sexism or racism - just another form of socio-economic exclusion?

    Nepotism prevents those people with the best and/or most relevant skills from progressing up the ladder. It makes a farce of hard work and effort, and breeds contempt and lazyness.

    I don't like inequitability. But you're right, I'm stuck with it.

  2. The definition wasn't actually from the Oxford Online Dictionary, it was from the dictionary on my mac so didn't actually include that! All I left out from it it was 'esp. by giving them jobs' which was unintentional, but implied in what was discussed.

    I agree that meritocracy is better, but, like you agreed, we're stuck with nepotism so I feel that for those of us who got the rough end of the deal, we just have to suck those eggs and make the most of the cards we were dealt. Ultimately, I think everything ends up coming down to meritocracy. Obviously there are exceptions to every rule, but I think when given something, whether deserved or not, most people are not exempt from having to prove themselves.

    And I disagree that nepotism prevents people with best/most relevant skills progressing up the ladder. It might mean that others get a chance than those who are best... But it just means having to work harder. Yes, it might make a farce of hard work and effort, especially when you see someone who hasn't worked as hard as you getting what they don't deserve and you do, but then how you react to that comes down to mentality... Personally, I was always brought up with the teachings of having to work harder than everyone around me to get what I wanted, so that aspect is nothing new to me.

    It might be annoying, but it's the life I was born into and I just have to get on with it.

    Who knows, maybe when I'm on the other side of the spectrum and perhaps in a position to make a change, maybe I will. Or maybe others who have gone before me have intended to do the same then realised that, in reality, nothing ever changes... Vicious cycles

  3. That's interesting... Well, now we know where Mac get their dictionary from. At least we know their source is reliable.

    Are we really stuck with it? By believing that we are, and that we can't make change, aren't we just accepting things as fact that don't need to be?

    100 years ago a female Prime Minister would have been unthinkable. In 1918 it was made possible for a woman to vote, if she was over a certain age and of property. Working class women living in difficult circumstances didn't even get the option. After 70 years of campaigning and hard work, lo and behold we had a female Prime Minister (she may not be the best example ever, but still).

    If we had another female PM now, we wouldn't bat an eyelid.

    Change is slow, and arduous, and often doesn't help your generation much - if at all. That doesn't mean it shouldn't be undertaken.

    As somebody who's seen nepotism in action (don't think that half the jobs you apply for aren't already filled by people 'in the know') I can guarantee that the best/most relevant people are prevented from climbing the ladder. Perhaps 'prevented' is too harsh a word, but the glass ceiling is a real if invisible entity.

    I too was brought up on old adages like 'if a job's worth doing it's worth doing well', and with the idea that hard work and moral goodness (endlessly debatable that one, I know) would be enough. As a jaded 30-something, I've come to understand that they're not. You're right; attitude has a lot to do with that. Your personality and personal experiences and how you deal with drawbacks are all heavy variables.

    One thing I have learned through my experiences is that if I don't like something, I should change it. Change might not happen today, or tomorrow, or even in my lifetime, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't try. It's hard, but little worth getting is ever gained easily.

    You're already in a position to make a change. You don't have to be well-known or powerful. You just have to speak out.

    Everything changes. It's just that some changes are so gradual you don't notice them.

  4. On the note of "If I don't like something, change it" - I agree, but I also come from the school of "pick your battles wisely". This, to me, is a losing battle, in the grand and wide scheme.

    For example, I remember being pretty annoyed about a music artist who tweeted about having a film idea, then shortly after, he was in talks with a production company about the script...And there's no doubt it was solely because he was an artist. I dunno if that film will ever see the light of day and I can think of other examples where public figures have been given an opportunity because of who they are but their work wasn't cutting it so the project was given the chop.

    Personally I dream of one day having my own production company, which well and truly will be run on meritocracy, in hope of giving people who usually wouldn't be given the opportunity a look-in, if they're good enough. To an extent, that is change, a change which I am happy to participate in and facilitate but that's just one small (or big) change.

    I still think, when looking at the bigger picture, that some things will never change. I could honestly give a list of things that society have been complaining about for years and years and years.

    Racism, for example. Sure, there have been changes. But does racism still exist? Yes. Will it stop existing? Not in my lifetime, not in the next, and, honestly, I think never.

    In a song, Kanye West said "Racism still alive, they just be concealing it" - and I think that goes for most things. We can make big and groundbreaking steps towards change in whatever the issue may be but how much change will really occur?

    I know I sound a right old pessimist atm, which really isn't like me, but for me I feel like I'm just being realistic. And it's things that I've just learnt to live with and accept without letting it annoy me, nor deter me from my aims.

    Oh and on the glass ceilings (I tend to skip about from point to point) - I agree so much! The term 'glass ceilings' really does sadden me because they are so real in so many walks in life. But still, nothing is impossible, from where I'm standing.

    From what you say, it seems I am fortunate to still have youth on my side... That was actually something I thought in class on Monday, that, still being young, I'm still bursting with hope, belief, optimism, passion and everything else. But then again, I've had more than my fair share of hardships and again, I think this comes down to the variable you mentioned of personality. With my personality being the type that, vaguely speaking, doesn't allow anything to hold me back.

  5. Good point. I'd be the first to tell you I'd pick a battle with a seven-foot body builder if I felt the need. That's one challenge still ahead of me! Though I'm not religious, there is a prayer I often return to when I'm picking a battle. 'God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.'

    Yes, I agree completely about the music artist you referred to. It's how I feel about so-called 'celebrities' writing books and getting published when a lot of the time they
    1. used a ghost writer or
    2. wrote an awful book.

    At least for those other people you could think of, their work was eventually given the chop. That's some kind of meritocracy in action.

    I hope you do have that production company, aand I know you work hard and you're capable of achieving that dream. I'd say 'remember me when your famous', but that would be nepotism ;)

    It's true; some things will never change. Human nature itself seems to be something that either never changes or changes so slowly that generations of change can go by before anybody clocks it.

    Yes, racism is a sad example of tokenism. 'We're trying to change it, really, but what we're doing will have to be enough for now'. It isn't. Interestingly, though, racism was less prevalent in the UK in the 1700s. I haven't any evidence for this, but perhaps that had something to do with the repugnant attitude of 'we're doing the world a favour, let's educate the savages' prevalent in the Victorian era (ugh, that hurt to type). I wish we could end racism just by talking about it, but even I haven't got any ideas for that one.

    That's the other probem with change - how exactly do you register it happening? How do you use empirical evidence to show that positive change is being achieved, when we all know that statistics can show whatever you want them to.

    No, I think there's a difference between being a realist and a pessimist. A realist says 'I know the world is designed this way, but I'm going to do my best anyway' and a pessimist says 'I know the world is designed this way, and I don't like it so why should I bother?'. For the record, I reckon you definitely live in the former category.

    No, nothing's impossible. Improbable, sometimes. Difficult quite a lot of the time. But not impossible.

    Yes, it's worth remembering that I'm an old fart! If you capitalise on that ambition and youth and hope, the world is your oyster. Never start letting anything hold you back.

  6. Hm. Since I'm not able to edit a post once it's made, instead I'll retract much of paragraph six in my last post. This is due to everything between 'Interestingly, though' to 'ugh, that hurt to type', being complete piffle. There's a reason it hurt to type. This is what I get for remembering things out of context.

  7. Nepotism is part of the human condition. Because of the large society and the structure of our society it is seen as somthing negative, (the old boys network etc) But it is just another part of a groups way of advancement, fitness, in terms of biology. There will be no getting away from it. Humans want to advance their own or be a part of someone elses success it is in the humans nature. I agree with Abe, My daughter works hard at college and work, she got the job on her own merit. Yet it was somone we knew who told her about the job etc. But if she hadn't have got destinction at college she wouldn't have got the job!