Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

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The Orange Peril: Branding Nationalism in America – Part 2

12/26/2016

In any election, there are some winners who feel morally superior and losers who feel cheated. Then there are the 90% remaining who just move on with their luves. People who don’t care about the give and take of politics and who need to make a living to feed their families. The Orange Peril is, doesn’t cate where we fall into this spectrum because this propaganda wasn’t just geared to win an election, it was created to change the mindset of Americans.

In the 1930’s, the Nazis perpetuated and accelerated the stereotype of Jews as non-Germans who were leeches that poisoned the culture and sucked money out of the economy. In 2016, Muslims have become the scapegoat when they are all portrayed as violent terrorists or revolutionaries seeking to impose Sharia law in the U.S. In both cases, an attempt was made to clearly identify a particular group of people who stood in opposition to everything that the host culture valued. In addition to the fact that the accusations were mostly untrue, they were magnified and applied to everyone identified as a member of the group. Is this just to get people (you know, the ones doing the work most Americans don’t want to do) deported, or is there some ulterior motive?

One of the wedges the Nazis used on their people was evoking guilt by continually referencing the Treaty of Versailles which they claimed was unfair burden on the people of Germany after World War I. They used the shame as motivation and rationalization for building up their armed forces and aggressive behavior towards their neighbors. The Orange Peril uses the specter of lost and losing manufacturing jobs to Mexico, China, and elsewhere as something Americans should be ashamed of because we can do the work better than any foreigner. What is never mentioned is that most jobs taken overseas are never coming back because either wages can’t cover the costs or automation has eliminated the need for human labor.

Key to the Nazi strategy was maintaining a mentality of “us versus them” through development and application of the term Aryan. Although they were mistaken regarding its origin, that didn’t stop them from using it to describe white, blond-haired, and blue-eyed people who they considered the superior “race”. Anyone not fitting this description was immediately suspect. For Trump, while his campaign slogan was “make America great again”, the undertone was always “make white America great again”. And while it can be debated exactly how he did this, the election results clearly showed that 9 out of 10 votes for him were white voters. Then again, it’s hard to imagine why minorities didn’t support him when, at just about every turn, he insulted, denigrated, and threatened immigrants with deportation. It was abundantly clear who “us” was when a surrogate suggested that Japanese internment camps from WW II were a precedent on how to deal with immigrants today.

The common element in the strategies listed above is that they were geared to set the populace on edge and have them ready to explode into action on command. For the Nazis, this took the form of storm-troopers in the blitzkrieg, Hitler youth, and the Brown Shirts. For Trump, the results were volatile campaign stops where violence could erupt spontaneously, shouting matches with dissenters, and eventually the combustion that took place on election day. In the post-election period, we now have a private security force supplanting the Secrete Service which may well be a parallel to the Brown Shirts. For the Nazis who masked an entire genocide behind their propaganda, no lie was too outrageous, no conspiracy too far fetched, and no atrocity too much. In 2016, we now have a president who would say anything to get a vote, told outright lies about his opponents, made promises he will never be able to fulfill, and now has the U.S. on the verge of global conflicts with China, Russia, and even our long-time ally Israel.

How does this end? If we’re lucky, we come to our senses in 4 years and vote this huckster out. If not, and the public remains blind to the manipulation of a Trump administration, we could be led into either civil or global war. Our only hope is to open our eyes to what they are attempting to do and resist the urge to give in to our basest instincts. We need real leaders, not a snake oil salesman who cribbed notes from the master propagandists of the 20th century. Keep your eyes open for that leader and when you do find one, tell everyone.

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It’s the Response, Stupid

12/19/2016

It’s been something like 5 weeks since the election but it seems more like 15. Every day, there’s some new appointment, tweet, or Electoral College dust-up that sets social media on its ear. Mercifully, today the EC had their state meetings and officially declared Mr. Trump president. While the rumblings over abolishing the EC will continue, at least the fairy tale dreaming that electors will defect and muck up the process have been quashed. 

Since 11/8, there’s been a debate brewing over how to best respond to a Trump presidency (precedentcy?). Basically, you have two camps that can be summed up as 1) If they go low, we go high and 2) If they go low, get down there with them because you can’t fight unless you fight as dirty as they do. I prefer one of these:

If they go low…

  • Move your feet out of the way
  • They’re visiting relatives down there, stay away
  • Wear steel toed shoes
  • Drop something heavy on them from above

Really. If you’re so insecure that you have to succumb to their tactics, how can you justify your opposition to their position? This isn’t about being sanctimonious or holier-than-thou, it’s about keeping your back straight and holding you head up while you clearly explain why you are right and prove they are wrong. Will this lead to ridicule and allegations of weakness from the thugs on all sides of the spectrum? Probably. Does it make your point any less salient? Absolutely not. Is a point made from the high moral ground more effective or memorable? It absolutely is. We cannot pretend to speak from authority if we let loose our grip on the standards that got us to where were are .

When you see something like this:

https://www.facebook.com/Channel4News/videos/10154356755756939/

You might be tempted to reply in kind but trust me, you can never beat a bully by adopting their tactics. While that might work in some 70’s sitcom, reality is that the bully usually comes back with reinforcements. What you need to do is have a clear message and rally people to your point of view.

So, for all those out there plotting their own fake news campaigns, creating provocative memes, developing left versions of GOP tactics, and using insults in an attempt to goad the opposition into verbal (and oftentimes real-life) confrontations, get over yourselves. If you want to defeat Trump and his band of merry white men, do some real work. Organize, recruit, research, and write. Arm yourselves with the gear that actually wins battles and stop thinking there’s an easy way out. 


If you’re looking for an easy way to be a part of the resistance, send me links to outrageous fake news you see and share these posts. Nothing makes the opposition crazier than to have us talking to each other.

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A Reintroduction

12/17/2016

My Uncle Bob is, to put it bluntly, gullible. When he isn’t sending me emails about chemtrails, he’s sharing HAARP theories on FaceBook about how the government is creating hurricanes. If you’re lucky, you have no clue what those are, but I’m betting you haven’t been able to avoid the topic of fake news that has grabbed the attention of so many people this year.

2016 has indeed been a turbulent year, but it wasn’t the worst. If you’re reading this, you are at least alive which testifies to my statement. If you’re still moping over the results of the election, gloating over the victory, or pining for some fallen TV/movie/music idol, you really need to lift your head up and look at the world around you. I said 2016 wasn’t the worst year ever but there’s a lot of crap going on that needs to change. Regardless of your personal or political beliefs, change is a’coming and if you can’t tell fact from fiction, it’s gonna run you over.

I’ve heard the Declaration of Independence referred to as merely a declaration of war whereas the Constitution is the collection of laws our country is founded on. But really, they should be taken together because neither was written in a vacuum and both were ratified by basically the same people. The concepts in each can, and should, be embraced as the originally American ideals. Two key phrases from each begin with “we”, “we the people” and “we hold these truths”. This country wasn’t created for the benefit of a few, and the ideals and principles espoused by them in the later half of the 18th century were meant to apply to all citizens until that form of government was ended.

Instead of looking at the world of opinions in the traditional left and right paradigms with all manner of shades on either side of what is subjectively called the middle, how about we look at it as an ever-widening set of concentric circles. At the center are the core values that Americans hold and the associated “truths” like equality, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the other basic rights specifically detailed in the Constitution. The farther opinions get from the center of this circle, the more dangerous the people holding them are. I think the center of this circle is really quite large and can hold the majority of Americans. It’s when you get farther out where you encounter the extremist whose views (like white supremacists and anarchists) threaten our very existence.

High on my list of the things that ail us is fake news. You can call it dis-information, mis-information, propaganda, or just outright lies, but it all boils down to manipulating perceptions. It was used to during the election by members of all parties and continues to be used in the post-election period as both scare tactics from the Democrats and fear mongering by the GOP. Some are blaming the Russians, some the alt-right, and some blame FaceBook for allowing it to proliferate. It really doesn’t make a difference. It’s here, it’s bad, and it needs to be dealt with.

Unlike my Uncle Bob, most of the people I know online can think for themselves and don’t want to be taken advantage of by the hucksters peddling their conspiracy theories and social theories. The problem is that this issue cannot be solved by just one person crusading on social media. It requires a network of people who keep their eyes open looking for suspicious material. Basically, I need your help.

This is the first post in what I hope becomes a regular series of commentary on with an eye towards debunking the malicious stupidity that is masquerading as news. Writing the posts is difficult enough and there’s now way any one person could have enough time to monitor and evaluate all the garbage floating around.

Here’s what I’m asking:

1. Share this post and sign up for email updates when new material is posted.
2. PM, email me, or post comments here about any links you think are fake.
3. Help me to recruit others and ask to them send me the links or (better yet) collect them for me and send me what you deem relevant.

In return, I will be writing about this problem and I promise to hit all sides with equal vigor because I just can’t stand the BS any longer. I can’t do it by myself; nobody can. Together, we can be the eyes and ears.

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Summertime Blues

08/27/2009

For over 25 years, the only significance of Summer vacation has been reduced traffic and wondering which Summer program to enroll my daughter into. However, after two semesters of graduate school, the opportunity to let everything academic fall by the wayside was just too tempting. For my regular readers (yes, both of you), I apologize for the hiatus. For the casual readers (yeah, the other three), welcome to my continuing exploration of the modern world.

I was reading a post by Jared Kuroiwa of KGMB about how he planned and implemented a Facebook strategy for increasing traffic on his site. No, he didn’t load up on ads for MLM promises of instant wealth, quick weight loss gimmicks, or swimsuit models. What he did was lay out a plan for building on his existing base of Twitter followers to promote a link on the KGMB site where readers could become a Facebook fan. Just as importantly, he realized that, for many people, use of Twitter and Facebook are mutually exclusive. To address this disconnect, Jared recruited his entire newsroom staff to send requests for their Facebook friends to become “fans” of the KGMB Facebook account.

This might not seem like an especially novel idea since telling your friends and co-workers about things that you like is as old as the proverbial water cooler. However, in the world of social media, the concept of utilizing a network of people to increase traffic to a website is. Most proponents of Twitter, Facebook, etc., will sell their soul for one more Twitter follower or and an additional Facebook friend. In this case, Jared relied on a handful of co-workers to utilize their network of friends and the relationships that they have built to spread the word. In my opinion, this is definitely a more effective strategy.

Now you might be wondering why I’d care about this. There are two reasons, 1) school has just started and I am taking a class on organization communication and 2) I will be participating in a political campaign where social media is going to be utilized. In the coming months, I plan to write about how to effectively communicate a message both within an organization and to the general public. As always, I value any feedback that you can provide.

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Same Old Song and Dance

05/14/2009

“When you’re low down and dirty, from walkin’ the street
With your old hurdy gurdy, no one to meet
Said love ain’t the same on the south side of town
You could look but you ain’t gonna find it around”

For those of you who have been faithful readers, my frustration with social networking and the twin issues of applicability and TMI (too much information) might be getting tiresome. But as I pointed out in a previous post, social media is reaching a tipping point where the critical mass will either relegate it to the commonplace or catapult it into the stratosphere.  While some people ordered prime rib, I’m expecting meatloaf.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term Web 2.0, you might think that it was the new-and-improved version of the original Internet. Even for the technically savvy, the term was originally mistaken for IPv6 which is the next generation of internet protocol (IP). It has the ring of newness in the same way that… In reality, the novelty is more akin to Compassionate Conservatism or Van Halen III.  In reality, some marketing genius came up with the term to sell the services to more users. They adopted the time-tested method of incrementing a number to indicate change and sent their minions of pseudo-journalists out into the fray to trumpet the new savior of the Internet. It’s kind of like saying Bush II was an improvement over Bush I!

Now I’m not going to sit here and pretend that changes aren’t fast and furious in cyberspace. New products and services are continually released and there are some incredibly fascinating offerings out there. What I am going to tell you is that Web 2.0 is a sham, a farce, and Three-card Monte game all rolled into one. And, the beneficiaries of the scam are the makers of portable devices and software developers looking for new frontiers to offer their wares. There are some terrific services out there and Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook are prime examples. They provide some incredible functionality but they aren’t quantum leaps.

I mention this not to denigrate the offerings but rather as a warning. For everyone who thinks that social media is the cure-all that will bring the world closer and facilitate a flat-world view, you need to wake up. Web 2.0 is not a magic wand that you can wave and instantly make all the children play nice together.  This still requires good old-fashioned organization work at the lowest levels with a lot of sweat. Social media is a great tool but, as the saying goes, when all you have is a hammer, everything starts looking like nails. If you pin all your hopes in organizing people or disseminating a message on it, you’re doomed to failure. However, if you add it to your arsenal of communications tools, it can be an invaluable asset.

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I Saw Red

05/01/2009

There used to be a time when spilling your guts out about lost love and the horrors of life and death was strictly the purview of of poets, authors, and songwriters. They carefully crafted their words to convey a sense of place and a range of emotion. Done well, they imparted a lasting impression on the reader or listener.

I was reading two online stories this morning, one about the horrific death of a young girl in a car crash and another detailing the willingness of people to confess their deepest, darkest secrets on the Internet. Both struck me as being symptomatic of a blurring of the lines between privacy and openness. They also reminded me that how a message is conveyed is just as important as the facts.

In the case of the teenage girl, gruesome photos of her corpse were somehow leaked by the Highway Patrol officers who were at the scene. These pictures quickly found their way onto the Internet where her family was confronted by the terrible images. Making the case even worse, the images were appropriated by strangers who made unfounded assumptions about the cause of the accident and the character of the unfortunate girl. Needless to say, the toothpaste was out of the tube and there is no way to eliminate these pictures. In their grief, the parent’s have attempted legal actions which have thus far proved futile.

In the other story, research seems to show that, when people are exposed to evidence that others are revealing their innermost secrets, they are more likely to admit to their own indiscretions. If someone is shown a fake survey result showing how other people are cheating on their spouses, a subject is much more likely to admit to cheating on their taxes.

Given the proliferation of personal data on the Internet, (and especially social media sites like Facebook) you can’t hardly go a day without being exposed to either a grisly image or a personal detail that you would have previously found offensive. I’d imagine that a majority of people would avoid these things but it seems like this is becoming increasingly harder to do. For example, in the case of the car crash, the girl’s father received an email with the picture attached. I could rage against this insensitivity but the reality is that people rarely think before sending email. And, this behavior is a symptom of something darker than rudeness.

Humans are, by nature, curious creatures. It’s what keeps us evolving and weeds out the dullards from the crafty. It is what compels parents to intercede when their child tries to stick a fork in the outlet and cheer when this same inquisitiveness leads to a Nobel prize. But when it comes to the mundane details of everyday life (and even death), inquiry turns into prying and curiosity into nosiness. Just knowing the facts and seeing images never provides the background underpinnings necessary to fully appreciate the situation.

As for me, when I want to feel sad, happy, horrified, or exhilarated, I stick to music. And, when I want to feel the pain of emotional loss, the words of Jani Lane seem appropriate:

“And I saw red when I opened up the door
I saw red, my heart just spilled onto the floor
And I didn’t need to see his face…
Cause I saw yours
I saw red and then I closed the door
And I don’t think I’m gonna love you anymore”