October 9, 2013

LoseFaceBook.com: Networking for the Disgraced, Rejected and Humbled?

On a whim and from sheer curiosity, I did a Google search for “losefacebook.com”, after imagining a Japanese variant of Facebook, as a social and professional networking tool.

As I imagine it, the site could combine self-promotion with self-effacing, even self-denigrating humility of those who have, for one reason or another, like a shamed Japanese samurai, lost face and fallen into [self-perceived] disgrace.

Considering that not only would such a portal be a refreshingly social media novelty in terms of the scale of humility and self-effacement involved, but also that it could create of pool of overlooked, [self-]underrated and commiserating talent, it seems that there is a potentially huge niche for such a humbler humbled clientele.

This is a clientele that may, in virtue of perceived inferior in terms of [self-]rankings and [self-]esteem, be highly motivated to prove themselves and especially grateful for professional and social opportunities, including being headhunted.

Because “losefacebook.com” is not an active domain, I can’t tell whether it means “lose-face book” or “lose Facebook”—the latter being a rallying call to dump Facebook as a tool or, very foolishly, as a stock [recently spiking past $50 per share]. A WHOIS search revealed very little; so, for the moment, this ambiguity stands. Although both interpretations of “losefacebook” have merit, this analysis shall focus on the “lose-face book” interpretation.

Perfect for Asian Cultures?

The instinctive assessment of the concept of “losefacebook.com” as a site for those who have lost face is that it’s perfect for Japan, China and other Asian nations that have a long history and norms of avoiding losing face, at all costs.

The Japanese call losing face “menboku wo ushinau” [面目を失]; in Chinese, “diu lian” [丢脸], although in both languages, there are other ways of saying this.  Of course, the most popular cultural association that losing face brings to mind is that of the samurai warrior who, bound by the code of “bushido”the way of the warrior, must make the ultimate atonement and dispatch himself.

[The beauty of the losefacebook.com concept is that it offers humbled-down self-promotion and reinvigorated job hunting as an alternative to the samurai’s career-ending “seppuku“, a.k.a. “hara kiri”—”stomach cutting”.]

Japanese resonances aside, it has been claimed that our English rendering of “lose face” is actually a Chinese “calque”—a literal verbatim translation and borrowing of the phrase from Chinese, as a loan term.

Just as, on the lighter side of failure, Japanese humor has traditionally taken the form of self-deprecating “shippai dan” [失敗談]—humorous tales of personal failure, losefacebook.com could tap into that kind of self-effacement as an attractive job candidate asset with traction among recruiters. Given China’s huge population and the historical significance and tradition of saving face there, this modest proposal may be even more compelling to the Chinese mind.

It Could Work Here Too

Despite our far more boastful ways here in the West, on occasion humility and self-minimization work as a self-sales pitch. For example, this past winter, one self-deprecating Millennial grabbed the attention of Wall Street investment banker managers with his cover letter that went viral after posting. How humble was he? This humble:

“I am writing to inquire about a possible summer internship in your office.  I am aware it is highly unusual for undergraduates from average universities like (BLOCKED) to intern at (BLOCKED), but nevertheless I was hoping you might make an exception….I won’t waste your time inflating my credentials, throwing around exaggerated job titles, or feeding you a line of crapp (sic) about how my past experiences and skill set align perfectly for an investment banking internship.  The truth is I have no unbelievably special skills or genius eccentricities, but I do have a near perfect GPA and will work hard for you.” [Source: Forbes, January 16, 2013]

The Mass Marketing of Humility, Inferiority and Disgrace

Now imagine an Internet portal targeting this kind of applicant. It would streamline the HR manager search for this kind of humble, yet talented personnel.

Not only that, it would also facilitate cherry picking among them to find the best among the most humble, humbled, rejected and, yes, even the disgraced, whose failings—on the basis of how often scandal and disgrace leave unscathed or launch many political, publishing, reality-show, talk-show and prison celebrity careers [e.g., incarcerated serial killer’s who attract love-struck groupies]—can be a valuable resource, or at worst, may be overlooked and forgiven.

Moreover, if losefacebook.com were to replicate Facebook in other respects, it could be a large-scale haven for social underachievers, rejects, self-doubters and the simply humble, while acting as a magnet for anyone looking for or otherwise open to these types.

In particular, losefacebook.com could become a refuge for those who have been fired or incarcerated because of some lapse on Facebook or YouTube, e.g., posting a racist rant, a DUI mugshot, a tirade against the boss, vomit-bag pub-night photos or trophies from a heist. Less dramatically, it could become a home[page] for those utterly demoralized by endless job rejections and HR silence.

[Note: If you are or know the owner of losefacebook.com, you should consider suggesting that the site be set up as “lose-face book” site, rather than, or in addition to, a “lose Facebook” portal.]

The Downside of Being Down on Yourself

Of course, to the extent that losefacebook.com were to replicate and emulate Facebook, there would be the obvious downside that it would evolve toward extremes—not of narcissistic, self-infatuated boasting, but toward out-of-control self-depreciation, indeed, even self-loathing, with an outcome not unlike one frequently associated with Facebook self-glorification—namely, that, in the end,
everybody will hate you,…

…with the possible exception of yourself.

Read more in Social Network

Michael Moffa, writer for Recruiter.com, is a former editor and writer with China Daily News, Hong Kong edition and Editor-in-chief, Business Insight Japan Magazine, Tokyo; he has also been a columnist with one of Japan’s national newspapers, The Daily Yomiuri, and a university lecturer (critical thinking and philosophy).