Posts Tagged ‘President of the United States’

It’s been all over the media, the story of the woman who egged her “friend” on to commit suicide. Through the use of social media she managed to convince him that that was the best option he had. And then there was the smart, pretty 12 year old girl who committed suicide due to all the bullying she received via social media.

I wonder, if Jesus Christ were to be crucified today, how many people would pull out their iPhones and snap a picture of his agony to post on Facebook. And yet that is what we do each time we post something negative about a friend, something private about a neighbor, tear down a politician, or post a photograph which never was meant to be shared with the world. These actions crucify and create agony in the target person’s life.

You don’t have to be a bully or psychologically impaired to have your e-mails or tweets wreck havoc on someone. Just look at how our President, yes the president of the United states, has negatively impacted not only the objects of his tweets but his own presidential image. Sometimes it’s not so much the content of a social media post that is the problem but the choice of words used to express an opinion.

For good or bad, social media in all its forms is here to stay. Maybe it’s time to stop and take a look at how our social media words and pictures pollute and demean our existence and hurt the ones to whom we send it. We have the choice to spread messages of hope and beauty rather than despair and ugliness. Let’s make life better by choosing to use it for good

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Thanks to president Trump, the phrase “Fake News” has become part of our everyday vocabulary. Is it something new? Is it something pseudo journalists have cooked up, a current conspiracy, to dupe the public? Are we more gullible now than we were in previous times? Strangely, no. The idea of fake news has been around for centuries.

138 years ago one Canadian priest by the name of Fr. Charles Chiniquay, tried his best to promote an outrageous fake news story. He had been a friend of President Abraham Lincoln, who when he was a lawyer, had successfully defended him in a liable suit in Chicago Illinois. In 1858 Fr. Chiniquay left the Catholic Church and joined the Presbyterian Church. After Lincoln was assassinated, he believed and stated that Jesuit priests and the Vatican were the masterminds behind Lincoln’s assassination. Of course facts in stories in credible newspapers debunked this but I’m sure this “plot” appeared true to anyone who had a dislike for Catholicism!

That story has mostly been buried by the passage of time. But just think about the more “recent” assassination of JFK. All the “fake” facts that still float around, all the fake plots that were behind Lee Harvey Oswald’s motivations, live on decades later.

And for how many decades have we had the National Inquirer and newspapers of that ilk, print fake news too outrageous for a sane person to believe? Yet people do think those stories are true. So fake news has been around ever since humankind could talk, ever since the vice of gossip reared its ugly head. It’s just that “Fake News” is a more catchy name for it! I think CBS News This Morning has a great tagline for its show: “More Real News”…as if anyone can tell the difference at 5 am in the morning!

Until the advent of the telephone, communication was face-to-face (yes, there were letters, telegraph, smoke signals, drums, but here we are covering daily communications between regular people). It was one human being using spoken words to be received by another human’s ears. The important matters of businesses, town councils, and governments took place in meetings, where one not only received information but could also see the emotional state of the person speaking. The telephone changed that somewhat especially when the speakerphone (and later the video camera) was invented. However, people still gathered together in real time and space to discuss matters of importance. Then came text messaging and the internet.

Yes, live meetings became the bane of existence for business people. These meetings got the reputation of time wasters, where you were trapped in a room accomplishing little after spending a good chunk of time getting there. So with the creation of electronic devices accessed through high-speed connections, one can be anywhere on the planet and still participate. Cool, right? That’s if there is a video feed to the equation. Most of the time, people just “text” or “post”. So what you get, in essence, is an electronic letter to read which can be misinterpreted in its meaning. Sorry, but “e-moticons” do not count. As humans we need face-to-face communication not only to discern the speaker’s emotional state but also to be able to immediately ask a question to clarify something confusing.

A prime example of how this faceless communication not occurring in real time can go wrong, was recently when President-elect Trump sent his infamous tweet with the word “Nazi” in it. He knew why he was using that to backup a point of his but did anyone other than historians and Baby Boomers get what he was referring to? No. And since tweeting isn’t “real time” even if someone responded to his tweet asking for clarification, he didn’t have the time to send out another tweet to do so. That hardly happens in real time meetings and we saw this during the press conference when a reporter brought it up and Trump went on to explain himself. Bingo, the entire watching universe understood.

I’m not saying that tweeting or texting should be avoided. We can’t go back to the days before these devices and programs were available. However, like we all learned with the e-mail universe, once you hit the send button it’s out there for better or worse. With faceless communications, we all need to try very hard not to say things in a confusing manner or make references that only a certain portion of the population gets (hmm, like telling an in joke that can backfire on you when most of the listeners don’t get it!) It’s also great that now our chief executive can communicate instantly with the masses. Very few previous Presidents had either the technology or the skill to use it as he does.

Meetings have become the dinosaur of the 21st century and Twitter and Facebook have taken its place. It doesn’t matter if you are the President of the United States, or a 12 year old communicating with her best friend, what you say can become a disastrous opportunity to be misunderstood. Keep the message simple, avoid jargon or historical/political references, and you should be on safer ground as a 21st century communicator.