GAY BLOG BR by SCRUFF

This article is also available in: Português

I believe in the goodness we have inside of us. I think everyone has an infinite potential for good character, integrity, honesty, kindness and generosity. And that we can spread beauty, wisdom, love and joy all around us. Each person that crosses our path has the potential to completely change our lives, and we also have that ability to change people’s lives in our journey.

I’ve always loved meeting new people, introducing people to each other and creating relationships, whether they are personal or professional. And that’s why I’ve been dedicating myself, since college, to creating social networks like orkut.com and hello (a story I’ll tell in detail in another post).

My inspiration to develop social networks is to bring people together, make them all feel happy and create the possibility for them to create genuine connections and nourish friendships and love. They are designed to create positive experiences and bring out the best in people.

Unfortunately, the dynamics of social media today is very different. What moves these companies is, essentially, generating wealth for investors and shareholders. By prioritizing revenue and advertisers, they treat people only as numbers and leave happiness and positive experiences aside.

What would happen if real life businesses, such as restaurants, bars, hotels and night clubs, treated their clients with this same approach, putting revenue above respect? After being quarantined for a year and a half, I was able to go to Turkey for a summer vacation, but I came back with three frustrating experiences that made me think about this.

Paparazzi: “You can come in, but stay over there, in the back.”

Paparazzi is a club in the Aya Yorgi beach that has been open for more than three decades and has always been a role model of kindness and compassion. The old owner was so kind that he would give out free food to the taxi drivers that waited for the clients to get home at the end of the night.

Today, things have changed greatly. The club was remodeled, has a new owner and new staff. I was excited, and invited some friends to go and see what was new. We made our reservation but, when we got there, we were told there was no table available for us and the reservation didn’t exist – and the club wasn’t even 25% full.

We were told we could get in if we stayed in the “back”, or in a cabana, but we’d have to pay for at least two bottles of vodka or champagne. Unbelievable: in a place that was once filled with kindness, I met a cold and selfish staff, with treacherous proposals.

Rei Beach: “I don’t like your type.”

Another club, Rei Beach, was opened at the beach in Kusadasi a little over a year ago. The first time I went there, I could enjoy a nice view and great drinks, as well as a nice conversation with the waitress. We even talked about how to grow the business presence in social media so it was easier to find it (and that a Margarita shouldn’t be served in a Martini glass).

But, when I came back the other day, at night, the security guys told me I needed to book a table. Alright, I made a new reservation with the manager. But when we came back the next day, we were, again, mistreated. The security guy said he didn’t care what the manager said and that he wouldn’t let us in because he “didn’t like our type” (and we were dressed up nicely!). I had never experienced so much prejudice and discrimination before. That guy needs to be humbler and more honest, really.

Korto Bar: “Your table is taken.”

I heard one of my favorite musicians, Aydok Moralioglu, was having concerts during summer, some of them at Korto Bar, in Alacati. I’m such a groupie for him that I went to his concerts every weekend while I was in Turkey. So, I booked a table right in front of the stage at Korto.

But when I got there with my friends, the table was taken by a group of ten girls, simply because the manager thought they would be spending more than us, since we were only six. The manager didn’t even think twice about making this change, even though I was a regular customer. They might not even notice that, because they are rude and disrespectful, their chances at happiness will be very limited in life. Ironically, the girls weren’t all that interested in the music, but only in taking pictures and videos for social media as if they were really enjoying that moment.

In all of these experiences, what saddens me isn’t the lack of professionalism and the unnecessary behaviors. It’s the mentality of treating people with such disrespect and thinking everything is alright. Specially in a field where the business’ focus should be creating positive experiences offering a high-quality service and showing respect and integrity in the relationship with the customer.

Just like in social networks, the focus on growing revenue, and not kindness, causes anxiety, stress and sadness. During a pandemic, caring, supporting and helping each other should be the priority, not selfishness. We need, now more than ever, to fight for goodness, for respect, create spaces and tools to bring people together and spread kindness and dignity.

What have you done today to restore this balance and share kindness? It’s a good idea to think about this, because, as Aristotle said: “We are what we repeatedly do.”

This article is also available in: Português

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Orkut Buyukkokten is the co-founder and CEO of hello.com. He is an internet entrepreneur and social media pioneer from San Francisco who has dedicated his life to bringing people together, online and offline. After developing one of the first social networks, orkut.com, which at its peak had over 300 million users, Orkut has continued to inspire people around the world to come together and make authentic connections. Orkut is an out and proud gay man and a strong advocate of diversity and equality. He is a frequent commentator on the positive and negative impacts of social media, an outspoken critic of online bullying and a vocal advocate for the LGBT community. He is also an avid programmer, bartender, and certified massage therapist. Orkut loves to dance, and he is known for throwing one of the best parties during Pride in San Francisco.

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