As I know you consider me a world-class writer, it may surprise you to learn that I occasionally let my brain steep in the acrid broth of modern media. In other words, rather than engaging in the pursuit of knowledge this weekend, I have watched TV and browsed on Facebook; today’s column is the result.
On the willingness of Americans to believe anything posted by a friend on Facebook
It is highly doubtful that Bill Gates gave high school students a list of 11 rules that they did not learn in their four years; Snopes, Urban Legends, and Truth or Fiction being just three outfits that have debunked the notion. As Mr. Gates has not responded directly to any of these outfits (if it were from a commencement speech he would almost certainly have defended the idea), we can dismiss the notion as a fabrication.
This is not the only instance of what is almost certainly an individual with an agenda using the name of a public figure to lend credibility to their own beliefs. Another popular meme has Warren Buffett signing off on a proposed amendment to the Constitution “reforming” Congress. The RM has addressed the substance of the meme twice in the last two years, with posts on Myths and Realities and Misplaced Anger (see the end of the post for links.) Buffett never signed off on the idea because he is someone who, unlike the original author of the notion, actually looks at reality before commenting on how to “reform” reality.
Various pieces of outright libel fill out the bulk of the memes in circulation, with every lightning rod in politics granted their own piece of stinky fiction to wear. I know that Michelle Bachman is objectively stupid (forget the science or business we all know she doesn’t know, I would bet a grand that she would fail a test given on the Constitution and the Bible); I also know that there is no way that she went on Fox News and stated that “we treat the President the same way we would treat any colored president…how can they call us racists”.
Life-sized wall stickers of athletes and comic book superheroes…what a revolutionary notion! Well not really, unless my Mom used a DeLorean to go get Tigger, Kanga, Pooh, and the gang and then stuck them on my wall 40ish years ago.
On the hyperbole of movie critics and the short memory of the movie-viewing public
I just saw a trailer for a new movie that contained a critic’s label that the film was “this generation’s Forest Gump” or some other such nonsense. The movie is a remake of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which made me wonder…was Forest Gump last generation’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty? Every movie cannot possibly be “the greatest” anything. Am I the only American who never reads a critic’s review and never pays attention to the review snippets cut and pasted into advertisements? I don’t suppose many parents are reading their children the story of the boy who cried wolf…
On Marketing, Advertising, and Promotion…and why the difference really matters
These words are not, in any way, interchangeable…but those who benefit from a culture focused on advertising are happy for the conflation. Marketing is what happens when an entity identifies a need or want in a market, and matches it to something the entity can deliver within a given cost-structure. The concept, in and for itself, has nothing to do with greed, exploitation, or even financial profit. People are cold and hungry in my community, the local Salvation Army helps those people no questions asked. The local Salvation Army needs help ringing bells every Christmas to support this mission…ringing bells for free fits my cost-structure…so I ring. I derive emotional profit from this arrangement.
Promotion is the communication element of marketing, and the paid sub-component of promotion, advertising, is the notion that has grown like a business tumor. When a large profit-seeking entity (like a major corporation or political party) looks first to advertising, they ignore the important components of marketing. Our society, led by our business culture, focuses on how profits can be made via manipulation rather than how profits can be earned by satisfying real need/wants. When small business looks to advertising, it does so as a bandage that usually sucks the last remaining resources from the dying firm prior to bankruptcy. Big business or Mom and Pop, it is better to understand the real definitions of marketing and advertising, and understand the nature of the Marketing Concept…a company-wide customer (not profit) orientation.
Thanks for checking in and don’t forget to speak.
The Rational Middle is listening…
(today’s links can be found at these addresses; http://therationalmiddle.com/2012/01/30/myths-and-reality-congressional-reform/ and http://therationalmiddle.com/2011/07/10/misplaced-anger-and-populism/ )