“A question in your nerves is lit
Yet you know there is no answer fit to satisfy
Insure you not to quit
To keep it in your mind and not forget
That it is not he or she or them or it
That you belong to.”
First of all, this post will only be of use to you if you agree that a lot of stuff is pretty f**ked up.
If you don’t, then you’ll only be reading this out of passing interest or curiosity or even loyalty to me, (he said pretentiously).
Of course, I’m not going to be able to tell you why a lot of stuff is so f**ked up in a single post. I’m actually only going to talk about one area of this ‘lot of stuff’, which is the area I know best…communications.
So here we go…a couple of weeks ago, CNN talking head, Anderson Cooper asked Hillary Clinton a question that she honestly could have answered in ten words or less. But instead of doing that, Hillary went on for pretty close to a minute or so and masterfully avoided actually answering the question at all.
At the end of her minute or so she nodded like she had really pulled something off.
Anderson Cooper had a look on his face that he knew he was being bullshitted but had to not blow up or even be antagonistic because of all the heat CNN was already taking for being the Trump 24/7 network.
And then everybody moved on. A one minute and seven second non-event.
This is a textbook example of obfuscation. Which is a four syllable word for bullshit.
Now close your eyes a minute and think about all the bullshit you have come across in your life. Also think about all the bullshit you have created for one reason or another.
We all have, you know. You could even be thinking that’s what I’m doing right now. And the weird thing is that it’s hard to get people to actually admit it. This is mainly because, we don’t think it’s bullshit when we do it. Because bullshit is in the eye of the beholder.
It’s like the word genius. Other people can call you a genius, but you can’t call yourself one, because everybody will think you’re an arrogant snot.
But the truth of the matter is that bullshit, the generation of and tolerance for, purely and simply, is why everything is so f**ked up.
Companies bullshitting their customers about their products. Politicians bullshitting their constituents and making promises they will never be able to keep. People sitting around in bars and bistros bullshitting each other to get laid. Husbands bullshitting wives to stay out of trouble. Reporters and commentators bullshitting their readers, listeners and viewers to make a absurd argument make some sort of sense. And the list goes on ad infinitum.
What this has done is put a serious kink in reality and made it pretty much impossible for people to ever know the truth about anything.
Big Bullshit, eh.
When Justin Trudeau was elected Prime Minister of Canada, he based his budget planning on what he was told by the outgoing Conservative government, that there was about a $4 billion deficit. Turns out that was bullshit, and the actual deficit was about $14 billion.
Now that is world class bullshit.
This deficit forced the government to postpone and cut back on a lot of the programs they had promised the people they would put in place immediately. And while it didn’t exactly cripple the economy, it was a pretty serious blow that will ripple through my country for more than a year.
There are close to a zillion blog posts out there that start with: 10 Ways, 10 Secrets or 10 Habits blah, blah, blah. The almighty and over-promoted “INfluencers” on LinkedIn are well known for this.
But if you take the time to actually read the stuff they are putting in most of these Listicles, you invariably end up shaking your head and wondering:
A) How the hell anyone could actually pull this stuff off, or
B) Who are these people trying to fool?
Well they’re trying to fool as many of us as they can. Not because they’re naturally devious although I suppose some of them are. But because most of them ran out of valid insights a couple of years ago, and so they’re just making shit up and hoping you buy it.
I put a lot of this on digital marketing and the publish or perish attitude that it has created among, well, just about everyone, especially those in services businesses.
Digital marketing, as a concept, is flawed in a number of different ways, many of which you have likely figured out for yourself. It is so bad that every six months or so they seem to come up with some new fangled way to talk about it.
The current flavour of the month is called ‘social selling’. But, in actuality, it’s really just the same BS with a fresh coat of paint.
The 80/20 Differential
For me, reality these days is defined by what I have termed the 80/20 Differential (shortened down from the bulkier 80/20 Rule of Almost Everything). It clearly states that 80% of everything you encounter in any form of on or offline media, is bullshit.
And this particular 80% is where you definitely do not want to be.
Un f**king what is f**ked up is something that will take a long time and requires a lot of diligent effort. Mainly because it took a long time to get this way in the first place.
The world, as we know it has been badly warped by the impact of too much bullshit coming at us at the speed of light. And people’s inability to distinguish the bullshitters from the authentic people has been warped right along with it. All you have to do is look at the US presidential primaries to see that.
Getting My Perspective Back
Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, a great many of us have been intellectually victimized by this kind of bullshit.
I know I ran out of patience with it all about 6 months ago. It wasn’t anything spectacular. It just happened. I woke up one day and said enough. It’s time for a rethink. It’s time to regain my perspective.
So what I did was went back to some of my old posts where I was writing about hard core things like communication strategy and other nuts and bolts topics.
And what I saw there was utility and me putting my experience to good use. It was also about this time, that I started seeing the bullshit a bit clearer, mainly because I was looking for it. So I started actively seeking out people who were on the same track. Here are a couple of the people I found:
Bob Hoffman, at the Type A Group. I read an article of his and immediately subscribed to his newsletter. http://bobhoffmanswebsite.com/ Bob is considered to be a contrarian. But with the bullshit level as high as it is these days, he’s actually more plugged into reality than anyone I have encountered in quite some time.
Most recently, I found another guy named David Baker who write this short and very to the point article.
I strongly suggest that that if you are fed up with all the crap you see around you, that you check all these guys out. This are not necessarily the be all and end all, but from a communications point of view, they are right on the money.
Because they possess wisdom and insight that has not been warped by the over-promising and under-delivering world of digital marketing.
Last But Not Least
Around this same time, my pal Phil Friedman and I started writing a series of joint article series in which we examined the various aspects of bullshit and how it affects us all.
We call it the He Said, He Said series and we are currently working on our 12th piece. This has been both great fun and great therapy for both of us.
Things Have Changed. But they Can Change Back
Communication isn’t what it used to be. Not by a long shot. And honestly, what the world of digital marketing has forced us all into needs to be re-thought. because it’s pretty flawed. (My opinion)
It will take a huge collective effort to course correct this big ship. But if we don’t, I see nothing but horking huge icebergs in the future.
I am a communications professional. Through my own core skills as a strategist, writer & art director and with the help of some insanely talented associates, I work with primarily B to B clients, large and small to create hard working communications in whatever sector of the marketing universe their strategy dictates the need to travel through. I am also a mentor, blog post editor and a pretty decent photographer.
If you have a marketing or communications challenge
you would like to discuss, (no obligation),
there are three ways you can contact me:
Direct Line: 416 463-3475 Email: email@example.com • Skype: jimbobmur61
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Small Business Communications For The Real World: