Dear Fast Company:
I love you.
You are young, hip, and happening. You know what is cool today in Silicon Valley (Invincible Apple: 10 Lessons From the Coolest Company Anywhere) and outside of its leafy environs (Eye Phone: MIT Researchers Develop Ultra-Cheap, Smartphone-Based Eye Exam Tool). You are green (Biomimicry Challenge: For IBM, Smart Design Draws Water Conservation Inspiration From Ecosystems). You publish eye-popping infographics (Infographic of the Day: The World’s Most Dysfunctional Countries, Ranked). You care not just for what Coltan can do, but more importantly and wisely, you spend enormous amount of resources to dig into (no pun intended) where it came from and at what cost (Mineral Wealth of the Congo).
I am a current subscriber, but you and I go a long way. You are the first, and sometimes the only, magazine I would subscribe to. Even during those times when I could not afford it, I would buy single issues at exorbitant prices (compared to an actual subscription) at newstands. Does anyone do those type of things anymore? Rolling Stone is setting a fantastic example of how awful the clash between the leisurely pace of print runs and internet’s speed of light can be. And, buying a magazine in paper form already seems so old school, but I digress.
Now imagine my shock when I come across this in the May issue:
99 problems and a bitch ain’t one
4 elf outfits
4 space helmets
8 Chinese girls doing blow
It is an article on The Mekanism Guarantee: They Engineer Virality. It is about an edgy new type of ad agency and how they are able to get many of their internet campaigns to go viral. The article itself is perfectly in line with your own mission of “uncovering best and “next” practices, the magazine and website help a new breed of leader work smarter and more effectively.” After that teaser we are told that this is supposedly the company’s shopping list for Christmas. My question to you on that opening teaser which I assume was selected by the writer and allowed to pass through by the editor is this: do you really want to foster a culture that is demeaning half the world’s population?
Forgive me if that is too harsh for a small paragraph in an otherwise great article. I work in an organization that supports women who are working hard to make the world a better place, sometimes at the risk of their own lives (Exhibit A: Iranian women. Exhibit B: Female police officers in Afghanistan. Exhibit C: World Refugee Day in Zimbabwe. Exhibit D: Conflict zone in Kyrgyzstan. I can continue on this way forever…). So please permit me to say that cultural and social norms of what is acceptable and cool are set by small actions such as these.
I am not saying all this to cause ruckus. I read that article fully and learnt a lot from it. I don’t plan to cancel my subscription. Re-read the third paragraph above if you want to know how I feel about you.
I do love you. Why else would I pepper that second paragraph with many links to your great work? And, I respect you. But I do want you to know how deeply disappointed I am. The disappointment is compounded by the fact that at the end of it all, what a great world you, me, and your new friend (Mekanism) could have created if we all had worked together. With mutual respect.
I love you. No, you don’t need to love me back. But can you please at least respect me?
Your Sincere Admirer,
usha a.k.a nadodi
PS: Whatever pop culture may be telling you, there are other types of love besides the amorous one. I love you as an (wiser) elder sister would love a (smart and promising) younger brother. If that makes me a fuddy duddy, so be it. :-)
photo from flickr’s creative commons collection by Rayani Melo
cross-posted on BlogHer