It is easy to be reflexively, and unthinkingly against the thing that the principled crowd is against, based on a quick, hot take that gets your dopamine and adrenaline going.
It is much, much harder to engage with principled nuance, investigate the claim, determine the truth of the claim, avoid rushing to judgment, and, of course, put the action in historical context.
It is almost impossible to engage with principled nuance, investigate the claim, determine the truth of the claim, avoid rushing to judgment, and, of course, put the action in historical context, and to then disagree with the crowd’s conclusion about the truth—not the facts—of the claim anyway and take another, equally principled position on the opposite side of the argument.
Sometimes, people who operate in this way are tagged as being “uncompromising.”
So be it.
In our digital age, principled destruction happens in front of our eyes, and thus publishing, independent of the dominant players in the social media-search media-advertising media complex becomes not only a responsibility but also a command.
Let those with eyes to read, ears to hear, and a mind to understand, understand.
Let me clearly explain so that there’s no misunderstanding or thinking that “I just couldn’t ‘hack it'” in the rough and tumble game of social media.
An Open Letter With Clearly Laid Out Reasoning…
I’ve had a mixed relationship at best with social media going back to the old MySpace pages and profiles in the early 2000s. I was always a person who liked forums (like what Quora is now) but I wasn’t a big fan of putting myself out there, so to speak.
Then, Facebook burst on the scene and I have ridden this wave–good, bad, ugly, and indifferent, for the past 16 years (yes, I remember when Facebook was The Facebook because I worked with college students and they were the only ones on it) and now, well, all of that is slowly coming to a close.
There are business uses for Facebook, but even the utility of those is questionable and over the next few months you’ll notice me slowly fading away at the personal level as I launch new projects (like my podcast, Leadership Lessons From The Great Books), and in general begin to pull away from platforms that are just about shouting, gaslighting, trolling, and “being right” and have little to do with engaging people in nuance, focus, or real problem-solving.
Which our country–and our world–desperately need.
Lest you think I am going to head to another platform, fear not! I have always been more of a Twitter person than a Facebook person, but I exited there about a month and a half ago and I don’t even have the app on my phone, nor do I much care about what happens there anymore.
LinkedIn is another beast that is gradually transforming under the weight of social pressure to conform to the crowd and the requests of the mob, and surely as I am leaving Facebook and have left Twitter, I’ll eventually exit there as well.
I have little patience for corporate and marketing virtue-signaling under the guise of solidarity for whatever “cause de-jour” of the moment might help a brand get “traction” and a few more dollars.
Instagram I will stick with for a while because there is a video play there, but I do not think that will last long.
The fact is, there are higher levels of engagement there than here and have been for a few years now and there is less vitriol on Instagram to be sure. But I expect that will change in time as well.
If you understand human nature and, then it will come as no surprise that inevitably that even a “pretty pictures” photo-sharing app must bow low to the whims of the gaslighting crowd.
An Open Letter With Solutions…
If you’ve read this far, you might be asking “Ok. Well, how can I get in touch with you then, if I really want to?”
Well, there’s always email.
We need to return to long-form conversations in order to generate the kind of clear-eyed, courageous leadership that can solve difficult problems.
This will be a project in which talking with people who disagree with me but who can do that while not being disagreeable, will be the “coin of the realm.”
And we’ll learn from each other (or not) and get sharper (or not) but at least we won’t have to contend with our conversations being drowned out in your feed by memes, advertisements, and other meaningless tripe.
Maybe I’m a Pollyanna.
Or maybe I’m the last realist.
Either way, I am building an email list and if you want to be a part of it, please send me an email (put your email address in a comment at the bottom of this missive) and I will add your name.
I am connected to 1,000+ people on the Facebook platform, 2,000+ people on the LinkedIn platform, and 3,000+ people and brands on the Instagram platform.
That’s an audience of close to 6,000 people and brands who see barely .005% of content I have posted.
The fact is, many who could see this message will not see this message because fails to “play the game” that social media demands.
What a shame.
Not for me, or for the message.
What a shame that we have outsourced our communication and our ability to connect to corporate giants, begun with good intentions, run by groups of people who no longer care about connecting us in meaningful ways, but only about farming our attention to harvest another buck.
Instead of pouring more gas on the fire, hopefully, this message will provide a pinprick of illumination at the end of a very long tunnel.
It’s time to go. There are other fields than just the social media one to plow.
If you’re interested in joining my Leadership Salon Project and becoming part of conversations that matter for the future, send me an email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be more than happy to add you to our Early Adopters email list.
Instead of Netflix and Chill, Quarantine and Learn a New Skill
I Hate To Be The Bearer of Bad News
I see a lot of folks out there in Facebook land, behaving
(or maybe just posting) as if the “happy times” will return.
Or as if this current situation with social distancing,
working from home, and with businesses collapsing all over the palace or
cutting back, is just a “temporary” problem and we’ll all go back to “normal”
when it’s done.
The reality is, “happy times” might not be coming back for a
I would encourage you, whether you are an entrepreneur, an
agency owner, an employee, or a manager or supervisor, to get with the idea
that your current situation is not a time for just eating chips and watching
Please take this opportunity to learn a new skill. Take this
time to advance a hobby and think about how it could make you some money tomorrow.
Please take this time to spin up a new business model for
how you can deliver what you used to do in a new way.
If that means taking a low-interest loan, then take the
loan. If you can’t take the loan because you’re overleveraged on debt, don’t like
the government giving out money, or are worried about the upcoming $30T
national debt, then I hope you’ve got a rich Uncle. Or that you are prepared to
pare down your life to the absolute bare bones.
Please take this time to talk with your children about what
30-60-90 days in the quarantine may mean for your relationships. Establish
boundaries and get real with each other about self-care, mental health, and all
the things that you wouldn’t “normally” talk about.
Because “normal” times aren’t coming back in the way that
they were here before.
Instead of Netflix and Chill Please Take Some Time…
Please take the time to think about what you’re employer
might do and begin to build contingency plans to get paid—not at your current
level of pay, but at a lower level—somehow someway. Set up dropshipping on eBay.
Set up an Amazon account. Write that book you’ve been meaning to write. Create
that painting you’ve been meaning to create. Make that digital product you’ve
been meaning to make.
And then put it out there on Facebook, for free at first,
and then offer it to a smaller community.
And if you’re retiring, or have the option to do so, and
think that that’s your “get out of jail ‘free’ card” well, I would implore you
to dig in now and help your community, not with money, but with your time, your
wisdom, and your sweat equity.
Retirement is only ever talked about as a punishment in the
Bible, and you’ve lived too long, and done too much to be punishing yourself
now in the face of all that’s happening in the world right now.
Now is the time for entrepreneurial thinking to blossom like
a thousand poppies in America. You don’t need money, you don’t need permission,
and you don’t need reassurance.
All the people who would provide that are in social
Now is the time to get real with your life, your
perspective, and your future.
Because the vast majority of us will survive Coronavirus.
But, the cast majority of us may be broke, unemployed, or without ideas on the
other side of this current crisis.
Be not afraid. But don’t be lazy either.
If you need help thinking about this differently, contact me using the information below. give me a , and let me help you navigate this new world.
When almost everyone in the world has access to a keyboard, a microphone, and camera, almost everyone will become a publisher.
But, someone must fund that publishing in order for it to be seen by an audience willing to be changed by its presence in the world.
And while publishers may fail to understand the relationships between awareness, advertising, persuasion, publishing, and creation, consumers do themselves a disservice when they pretend that what a third party–wedged between them and the publisher–wants doesn’t matter.
There are multiple parties to consider in this transaction that is now going on at scale in the world right now:
Publishers are people (and sometimes organizations) who want to publish. They create, comment, click, like, share, and otherwise either participate, or validate, an opinion, a fact, or an idea through their actions.
What publishers want is a platform upon which to publish and attention from the audience they seek to impact.
Consumers are people who want to consume. They passively watch, applaud, share, click, like, and otherwise take in the opinions, facts, and ideas that publishers create.
What consumers want is to consume. Preferably without much action or engagement on their part and with as little friction as possible.
Owners are brands, organizations, and community builders of all types and stripes who want to own a piece of the communication real estate that the Internet has created. Owners create and own.
What owners want is to get paid for their work, their creativity, their cleverness, and their time spent building something for others. And they want to get paid as quickly as possible, as much as possible, as often as possible.
Advertisers are organizations, buyers, creators, and others who seek to intersect themselves in between owners, publishers, and consumers, ostensibly for the benefit of publishers and owners, but in reality, for the benefit of themselves.
What advertisers want is attention, awareness of the products, services, and processes they are seeking to persuade consumers. And they want it at scale, with as little friction as is possible.
There is little alignment between all of these parties (even though there is often confusing overlap), as the Internet has fractured and atomized the 20th century’s mass media, mass audiences, mass attention, and mass awareness.
With this lack of alignment comes confusion, misunderstanding, miscommunication, and at the end, scandal, corruption, mismanagement, and further erosions of public and private trust.
The best alignment is the type that removes the middleman from the interactions between the publisher and the audience and gets the publisher and the audience aligned.
Employees, managers, leaders, and organizations, don’t really believe the workplace needs to change.
If we really believed the workplace needed to change, we would hire and encourage employees to be candid about problems and issues, in a way that would interrupt the hierarchical power structure, and would encourage creative thinking, innovation, and risk-taking at the lowest level at work, rather than at the highest level.
Which is why leadership training is a worthy investment by an organization into its potential and current leaders, but leadership follow-through and implementation will always be a chimera.
If we really believed the workplace needed to change, we would have the courage to question issues that we see at work and propose equitable, non-hierarchical solutions to problems, issues, and conflicts, despite the impact of politics, power, or other considerations.
Which is why management training is a worthy investment by an organization into its potential and current managers, but management follow-through and implementation will always be difficult, but not impossible.
Which is also why the organizational view of management must shift and change, from one of day-to-day “keeping the train on the tracks” to one of “investing in pushing employees to be better today than they were yesterday.”
If we really believed the workplace needed to change, we would have the clarity to describe issues, conflicts, ethical and moral lapses, in clear, unambiguous language, rather than covering up with jargon, info-speak, or other forms of hiding.
Which is why organizational communication needs to shift to being more transparent, truthful, and honest. Workplace communication is about promotions, compensation, and all of the ways that we communicate non-verbally about culture to employees at all levels.
Because we don’t really believe the workplace needs to change, we don’t really believe the workplace can change in these three critical areas.