Can You Believe This?
RECENTLY POSTED AS A BIT OF SATIRE ON, AND ABOUT LINKEDIN, THE RESPONSE WAS... WELL, MIND-BOGGLING...
So, it was last Friday evening late, and I sat there at my desk and laptop, missing the Friday night silly sessions that we used to have on the LinkedIn group, Writers 4 Writers. Because the traffic on the group was visible only to group members, it was a great way, and a great time for a group of about 50 active writers to blow off steam at the end of the week bantering, punning, telling jokes, writing limericks, even arguing and "insulting" one another. At W4W, there was a feeling of trust and camaraderie that bloomed on Friday evenings late, when all our brains were fried from the week's activities.
Unfortunately, the last round of changes that LinkedIn made to group operating procedures pretty much killed W4W, or if not exactly killed, left it comatose. The thought of which was making me somewhat melancholy, especially in the circumstances.
You see, I have been ranting against LinkedIn's policy of choking down the distribution of independent writers' long-form posts (and it seems updates, as well) to those writers' connections and followers. And while there is a significant number of LI members who seemed to understand the problem and sympathize, there is a stubborn knot of LI apologists who just can't seem to see what the fuss is all about. It is an almost insurmountable problem in communication, never mind logic, to get such people to see that there is a problem with what LI is doing in contravention of the promises it made to indie writers, when it first invited them to, as LI put it, "...publish on LinkedIn."
What if I framed the problem in terms that were more familiar and described circumstances to which people could better relate... mail delivery...
So, I found and posted this on both LinkedIn and beBee.
Please take a minute to read and digest it. And ask yourself if you believe it.
The comments that came in were, to say the least, mind-blowing...
Mind blowing because more than half the people commenting on LinkedIn not only thought the news report was genuine, but expressed one degree or another of agreement with the reported initiation of shredding mail arbitrarily, rather than delivering it.
Comments like, "This could be a great idea. I only wish it could be implemented here in my country..." Or like, "...sounds like a pretty sensible cost-saving measure."
Not only didn't they get the joke... they didn't get the point...
Which in my darker moments confirms me in my belief that society is hell-bent for devolution into oblivion. But once again I find myself digressing.
I am assuming that you read the news bulletin, and that you noticed:
1. The CNNN logo.
2. That the U.S.P.S. logo stands for United States Pistol Service.
3. That the name of the cited Postmaster General is Linkedensure.
4. That the text refers to "artificial un intelligence.
5. That the name of the consultant social media firm is LinkedOn.
6. That the name of the LinkedOn CEO is Jiff Weener.
Okay, I grant this last point doesn't really carry much weight... because admittedly the personality and integrity of the LinkedIn CEO appear similar to those of an... Oscar Mayer sausage...
To be perfectly blunt, the comments garnered on beBee to the identical posting were much more intelligent, with nobody missing the point entirely. Which tells me, at least, that people on beBee appear to actually read the post more often than do the denizens of LinkedIn, where the predominating ethos encourages one to comment and be "seen" as much as possible, never mind taking the time to construct a contribution to meaningful dialogue.
One fellow on beBee did criticize the post as being a "crude" hoax — which it is definitely not... a hoax, that is. The post is intentionally crude because it represents what is intended to be a satirical reductio ad absurdum of the social media policy at LinkedIn and elsewhere of using algorithmic control to filter and choke down member-to-member communications in contradistinction to the expressed wishes of those members.
In my book, a critical feature of satire is that it must not be so convincing that the irony goes unnoticed...
I have personally long been of the belief that good satire draws you into belief in the beginning, then after a while lets you start to kind of wonder whether something isn't amiss, and finally, brings you to the flash of understanding that you've been had. That experience, properly conducted, causes the reader or listener or audience to go back over in their minds what it was, what assumptions they made, that enabled the satirist to draw them along for as long as he or she did. And that, hopefully, leads to a further inventory and questioning of the validity of those assumptions.
It's almost embarrassing to feel moved to explain the point of the posting, but I am going to nevertheless. The posting was intended not to fool anyone, but to get readers to recast in their minds the question concerning the algorithmic manipulation and control on social media in a more familiar setting, in this case, that of daily, person-to-person, business-to-business, business-to-person, and person-to-business mail delivery, upon which we all depend.
And perhaps how you come down on the original issue concerning social media, depends whether, upon reading this spoof press notice, you could actually believe it. — Phil Friedman
Author's notes: I don't write much about social media, except for the occasional piece about the failings of some of the platforms, in particular LinkedIn. And the occasional article on the psycho-sociological issues surrounding the presence of social media in contemporary society. If you found this post of interest, you may want to look at some others of mind:
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About me, Phil Friedman: With 30 some years background in the marine industry, I've worn numerous hats — as a yacht designer, boat builder, marine operations and business manager, marine industry consultant, marine marketing and communications specialist, yachting magazine writer and editor, yacht surveyor, and marine industry educator. I am also trained and experienced in interest-based negotiation and mediation. And in a previous life, I taught logic and philosophy at university.
The (optional-to-read) pitch: As a professional writer, editor, university educator, and speaker, with more than 1,000 print and digital publications, I've recently launched an online program for enhancing your expository writing: learn2engage — With Confidence. My mission is to help writers and would-be writers improve the clarity of their thought, master the logic of discussion, and strengthen their ability to deal confidently with disagreement.
To schedule an appointment for a free 1/2-hour consult email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Text Copyright 2016 by Phil Friedman — All Rights Reserved
Images Credits: Phil Friedman, and Google Images
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