But first, a selfie

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Microsoft has announced plans to introduce a “selfie phone.” Ha ha I know, right? According to the Verge, the phone will feature a 5-megapixel forward-facing camera (instead of its standard 1-meg) and 4.7-inch display. And this is how the world ends. Not with a bang, but with a girl in traffic, making duck lips behind a steering wheel.

I kid.

As much as people like to ridicule and mock selfies as just another symptom of self-obsessed Millenial culture, the truth is that they’ve actually been around for nearly six centuries. Yes, just as technology has democratized media (the Internet) and PR (facebook, twitter) it has also brought easy displays of narcissism to the masses. In fact, I call it the Democratization of Narcissism™.

Before, only elites with the resources to commission painters (and later, photographers) to create portraits were the ones doing it. But just like Prometheus stealing fire from the gods, Kodak allowed the 20th Century common man to show his vanity just as proudly as the bourgeoisie. And thanks to Mark Zuckerberg and Co. we can now easily share it!

It seems Microsoft is betting big that the trend is here to stay. And why not? As soon as man figured out how to capture an image, he started believing his was the most interesting (guilty). Not to mention 2013 was declared the Year of the Selfie by the Oxford Dictionary. However, I would argue this trend jumped the shark somewhere around the time these guys found out what Instagram is.

 

How to lose at relationships…

By keeping score.

Science of Us has some advice that people in long-term relationships have probably known for a while. Scorekeeping is toxic and should be avoided at all costs:

Keeping track of who does what for whom (a “tit-for-tat” game) is a sign you are not seeing your behaviors as benefiting the relationship, but just as benefiting one partner or the other. Try to see how your actions benefit the relationship, because, ultimately, your relationship ultimately benefits you both.

After all, you can be right or you can be happy.

101 Problems: Is This the End of Bey Z?

Jay and Bey on the run
“Sometimes I trip on how happy we could be.”

Rumors began swirling once more this week about the future marital status of America’s Favorite Couple, Bey Z. It was reported in the New York Post that after the couple’s On the Run Tour ends the two will be going their separate ways. Apparently months of marriage counseling haven’t helped and the couple is just going through the motions until a more convenient time to split. Having long heard whispers of infidelity and marital strife, I wrote it off as tabloid nonsense… but lately the rumors have been getting more difficult to ignore.

Jay Z and Beyonce are two very shrewd and image savvy public figures. Could this be an attempt to generate publicity for their tour and subsequent concert film? There is a side of me that is both cynical and naive enough to believe this. But here’s the thing: When have Bey Z ever had to manufacture controversy just to court attention? Hell, Jay Z removed the hyphen from his name and it fed the blogosphere for over a week. Such is the power of Hov and Bey.

My first inclination is to hyperventilate and yell the same thing everyone thinks when they learn a favorite celebrity couple is splitting… “Well if they can’t make it WE ARE ALL DOOMED!” But the truth of the matter is– despite the many hours I’ve spent listening to their music– I really don’t know shit about either of them. Oh, I know far more about them than they’ll ever know about me because our relationship is completely asymmetric. As are all fan/celebrity relationships. As much as I love The Blueprint, if I ever approached Jay Z to tell him as much, his bodyguard would snap my wrist in half before I could shake Jay Z’s hand.

Divorces are sad (well, kinda). And relationships are difficult which is why most of them end. That doesn’t stop me from being genuinely upset that Blue Ivy may not grow up with her parents together. But the fact still remains that these people, as my mom would say, “don’t know me from Adam’s house cat.”

I’m not willing to declare that love is dead just because a wealthy, powerful couple has made the decision to call it quits. Over the previous twelve years Jay and Bey have seemed liked the ideal loving couple. But lately their marriage has displayed more struggle than fans trying to keep up with the key changes in “Love on Top.”

It sure is going to be awkward when that On The Run concert film comes out in September. You know how it is when you run into someone you haven’t seen in a while and they innocently ask how your girlfriend is doing, not knowing you broke up a few weeks before. Well it’s going to be like that, but 100x more unpleasant.

It’s important to once again remember that these are just rumors and yet I can’t help speculating on the possible causes of the split. Was it infidelity? Irreconcilable differences? Maybe they couldn’t find a way for their massive egos to co-exist? Maybe they are two assholes who can no longer stand each other? The tour doesn’t end until another two months (!) but we still may never know.

And after all the think pieces about power, fame, wealth and its utter futility in keeping couples together, I’m still not sure we will have learned anything new. Because really we already know the lesson: Keeping a promise to someone that you’ll feel the same way about them for the rest of your life is incredibly difficult. And if Jay and Bey can’t do it… well, it says absolutely nothing about your ability to.

 

Oh, Hello!

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Hey guys! Welcome to the New and Improved, more user-friendly Antoine Vanderbilt. I have left the wilds of tumblr and crossed over to wordpress and I’m sure those words mean nothing to you, dear reader. But essentially wordpress allows me to build a more complex, customizable website. You may have also noticed that the domain is now just antoinevanderbilt.com.

Among the new features are a comment section, search categories and facebook and twitter sharing icons. This started as a lark by a bored grad student to entertain his friends. But now it’s grown so if you want to share with your friends, then by all means share posts and tell them about the site. I’ll be posting regularly.

I’m keeping open the old Antoine tumblr site and if you want the link just head to the upper right hand corner of the page. As for content, nothing is really changing. I HAVE SO MANY THOUGHTS AND OPINIONS. So you can expect the same hard-hitting investigations, pontifications on chain restaurant social apps, sportsball rants, heartfelt essays, 3500 word thinkpieces about rappers and dead authors, and listssomanylists.

So please enjoy, share and comment because we’re only one more opinion short of a perfect world.

– Antoine