Tag Archives: advice

Don’t Believe Me

You can’t help but be aware that not everything you read on the internet or via social media is true. Shocking, I know. We are living in a time when there are people and organizations actively putting our false information. The cynics among you will say that marketers have been doing that for years and there is some truth in that. But this is different.

I think when we read product ads or other materials labeled as advertising or advertorial or paid sponsorship, a little “be wary” alarm goes off. I recognize, having been fooled myself on more than one occasion, that not all of those paid for materials are immediately obvious as ads, but most are. If you look closely enough, even the social media usual suspects make it fairly clear when content is actually advertising. Not so propaganda.

You might be familiar with the studies showing that a huge percentage of people don’t actually read the things they like or repost. There are problems with that, the biggest of which is that you’ve added social proof to something that might actually be a complete lie. I had a friend the other day who posted a story that had a headline that was different from what the article actually said (thanks, editor who wrote the headline). I asked her in a comment if she had actually read the article, which was taken down shortly thereafter since it didn’t exactly match her world view.

It’s going to get worse over the next 60 days as we get to an election. Just as in 2016, there are disinformation campaigns being waged. I don’t mean the obvious ones you see on TV which are paid for by special interest groups. The stories have been coming for months and today’s headline that “Russians Again Targeting Americans With Disinformation, Facebook and Twitter Say” is not going to stop anyone because these bad actors got caught.

What can you do? Check everything you read against multiple sources. Be skeptical. Don’t believe me or anyone else until you find proof of what you’re reading with your own eyes. Don’t even believe your eyes when it’s video since it’s way to easy to fake videos these days. Go to legitimate fact-checkers – Snopes, PolitiFact, and others.

I’m not being political here (we don’t do that in this space). I’m begging you to make up your own mind based on as much accurate information as you can find. Don’t repost stuff you haven’t read and checked out. Don’t believe what others post until you do. Not even from me, OK?

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Huh?, Reality checks

Independence Day 2020

Way back when in 2008, I wrote this about the holiday we’re celebrating this weekend. Given the pandemic, we’re enduring and a virus that spreads uncontrollably unless each of us takes care to protect ourselves and others, it seems appropriate to publish it again. Sorry, no food this Friday, other than the food for thought I hope this provides. Stay safe, wash your hands, wear ya damn mask, and enjoy the 4th!

It’s going on July 4th and to all of us raised on the Red, White, and Blue we know it’s a day (OK, a long weekend) during which we can celebrate the fundamental principles that make the US of A what it is.  No, I’m not going to venture into politics (although it IS an election year and there’s a LOT to talk about).  What I do want to write about is the contradiction of the “independence day” term.

The Constitution (I know – a bit after the Declaration) begins with the word “we.”  We The People.  Not “me.”  The independence rightly celebrated this weekend is, to me , about the specific rights and freedoms we have to be ourselves as a people, with all the quirks that make us unique.  WE are independent from other folks (Great Britain, specifically, long ago) but NOT from one another.  I’ve spent the last 30+ years learning how critical having a strong bunch of folks around you is as well as setting the bar high in terms of with whom you do business as best you can.  Why?  Because the better they are, the better you become.  As I’ve transitioned from corporate life to consulting, the friends and business friends I’ve made over the last 30 years have been an unbelievable support network, even for a guy who is now independent.

Jack Ingram puts it well in his song “We’re All In This Together“:

We all think we’re special
And I hate to have to say
There’s a bunch of us on every corner
Of any town U.S.A.
We all got our problems
We all pay our dues
So if you’re thinking no one understands
I’ve got news for you

Chorus

We’re all in this together
Whether we like it or not
So we might as well have a good time
With the little piece of time we got
Life’s too short to fuss and fight
So we might as well be friends
‘Cause we’re all in this together
Together till the bitter end

So Happy July 4th.  Enjoy being independent.  Together.

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Filed under Helpful Hints, What's Going On

You Get What You Pay For

The amount of news and information that comes my way is overwhelming much of the time. I suspect you feel the same way. The hardest part isn’t digesting all of it. Nope. What’s most difficult is knowing what’s fact-based and what’s made up out of whole cloth. One study found that 67% of U.S. respondents said they’re “concerned about what is real and fake on the internet when it comes to news.”

I’m sure you’ve seen the articles about how to spot real news and there are lots of fact-checking sites available to you if you’re willing to use them. And you should. There’s another way of which I’m fond and it seems that during the stay at home period many other folks are figuring this way out as well.

Pay for it!


Yep, shell out a couple of bucks a week and pay for fact-checked news that is written with what we used to call journalistic principles. It turns out this isn’t exactly a revelation to everyone, at least not according to this piece from the Publishers Daily:

The percentage of Americans who pay for online news subscriptions is up 4% compared to last year, according to a new, extensive report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. The “Digital News Report” for 2020 surveyed more than 80,000 people in 40 countries about their digital news consumption. The percentage of people in the U.S. who pay for news is 20%, up from 16% last year.

Now, of course, the study also found that 40% in the U.S. say that nothing could persuade them to pay for an online news subscription. Then again, there are folks who still believe that the world is flat. The good news is that many people are using what I’ll call the pay filter to screen out noise. It’s good news for publishers who have been struggling. In fact, Gannett, the biggest newspaper chain in the U.S., saw an 85% yearly jump in net new subscriptions over the last few months. Those are mostly local newspapers. Of course, there is the challenge of keeping those subscribers as they go back to work, etc. but my guess is that getting fact-based news and information will outweigh the cost. Remember, you generally get what you pay for in this world.

We’re coming up on a big election. No matter how you choose to vote, the more you know about the issues and candidates’ positions on the ones that are most important to you, the better. Better information yields better decisions, right? 

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Filed under digital media, Helpful Hints, Thinking Aloud