I hardly buy newspapers anymore as it is much more convenient to check their online version whenever I feel like I need to catch up with the current news. Nothing wrong with this, but, I must admit I miss ‘La Repubblica’ friday insert, surprisingly named “Il Venerdì’, i.e “Friday”. My dad, who’s an avid Repubblica website read, doesn’t really need to buy the newspaper everyday and he does it just once a week, because, no matter what, it won’t be friday without a copy of “Il Venerdi’. A pile of copies of this publication on top of the washing machine tells more about it: it should be renamed “Toilet Seat Reader Weekly”, and has privilege of being the one and only piece of paper, except the one conceived for butt-wiping duties, to be allowed into my parents bathroom.
Some weeks ago I visited my parents and while I was there I needed the pleasures of their luxurious bathroom, as I sat down I took a copy of “Il Venerdì” and I opened it randomly as I usually do. Page 50, 8 august 2014 issue, ‘Matteo, 22 years old, will be a millionaire: says the BBC”. Well, if the BBC says it… But wait, who the f**k is this guy? The ‘Italian Mark Zuckerberg’, creator of ‘Egomnia’, a website made for job-seekers, which should help employers in hiring employees actually fitting into their requirements. There’s Linkedin and a bunch of other sites like it therefore I couldn’t seem to grasp how this was supposed to be such a revolutionary idea…
The name ‘Egomnia’ sounded instantly unpleasant to my ears, as well as the article triumphant tone, telling the tale of a guy who lived in the roman outskirts and attended a generic high school named ‘San Giuseppe’ before jumping to ‘Bocconi’, Milan, one of the most prestigious and expensive private universities in Italy: the fairy tale goes on boasting some rather impressive numbers of this ‘startup’ (is this word so popular in the rest of the world as it is in Italy?), that is, 1000 registered users and 20 companies after one day, 15000 users and 100 companies after thirty, and 300.000 users and 700 companies after several months.
Pretending I’m the average reader and this is the only thing I’ve read so far about Egomnia: should I believe that he became a digital entrepreneur with just a few thousand euro and a good idea, at the age of twenty and without any help from anybody? To be fair my impression is that highly unlikely, and the article is at the very least , misleading, speaking of periphery like as if he actually came from a shit-hole somewhere around Rome: he went to a school named after a saint, therefore private, catholic and moderately expensive. Bocconi isn’t cheap either, and is not clear where the money to start this business came from, so… could it simply be that is family helped him in some way? I know that telling this would spoil the tale of an extremely brilliant and young self-made man, but come on, that’s not really honest, and anyway… is there anything bad in someone being supported by his own family?
My intention is not to add more fuel to an already well-developed fire: articles found on the web are adorned by comments in the vein of ‘there are far more journalists talking about it than actual users’, ‘what a bluff, where do they get these numbers? Who knows this guy?’ and ‘all talk and no walk, at the beginning the website didn’t even work!’. I even found an interview in which Matteo Achilli really sounds like a complete jerk: a harsh and arrogant self-inflated balloon who doesn’t seem to be really able to handle criticism, someone I wouldn’t really like to work ‘with’ (let alone ‘for’). I hope for him that his words are just the result of the pressure he’s experiencing.
This post is not even about him actually, he’s without any doubt a competent young guy, someone who knows how to sell his image and his product. I don’t care if it’s the BBC, ‘Panorama’, ‘Il Venerdì’ or ‘Wired’: this is the making of a movie called ‘A New Phenomenon’, destined to be praised in a world which glorify everything young and successful, often well beyond its real worth. All this is done in a subtle way, by omitting details and changing little bits of the story, shifting the attention somewhere else but rarely focusing on the substance lying behind. All this ignites a self fuelled mechanism in which even criticism gives its contribution: words, no matter if good or bad, are always welcomed, because the important thing is talking about something, making some noise and spread the news.
I realize I am now part of this mechanism, but there’s something I won’t do: registering to Egomnia just to see if it works properly or not.
Time will tell.