Re-Messaging Counts—Even Fake News

rosieA few months prior to our last presidential election, a group of performers made strong statements that if Trump won they’d leave the United States. Since Trump did win, none of the performers left the country. Instead they found yet another way to get their message out to the people ad nauseam.

Barbara Streisand made sure people knew she had a mental breakdown because of Trump. Miley Cyrus shared her profound need to die. And Rosie O’Donnell spoke of her great fear of seeing America go back to the Stone Age. George Clooney, Amy Schumer, and numerous other Hollywood performers chimed in with their ideas to have the entire motion picture industry go on strike until Trump resigns.

“We’re calling for a general strike that would include every single person involved in making motion pictures in Hollywood, starting with the actors and celebrities themselves and encompassing companies in charge of making props, movie memorabilia and even souvenir shops,” a spokesperson for the group told The New York Times. “It’s about time people understood that we’re the ones with the power and that the president is there to serve us, not the other way around.”

Asked to elaborate on why the group is targeting Hollywood out of all the industries in the country as their bargaining chip, the spokesperson argued that Hollywood “is, simply put, the base of the entire modern American culture.”

The Rightists, who bills itself as a “hybrid” site that publishes articles containing a mixture of fact and fiction, wrote this FAKE NEWS article. The article was then rewritten and republished so many times that the satirical sense of the story was lost. The majority of those re-messaging the fake news story were conservatives.

While I’m not sure if the conservatives were re-messaging to show the foolishness to justify their own votes, or if they were ignorant to the satire because they take life way too seriously, or, well, there are several other possibilities that can be discussed, but I want to focus on a different line of thought.

Re-messaging counts!

Anytime we re-message an article, phrase, snapshot or string of 148 characters, we are attaching our approval to the message. We are saying that we stand by what we are forwarding.

Some hope to disagree, especially if they’re forwarding satire. In other words, their goal was to forward the humor of the satire, not the message, which may or may not be picked up on by the receiver. After all, once the satirical piece left the context of the site known for its satire, many interpreted the article as truth, not humor. This suggests we need to attach a short message in front of the forwarded article that says something like, “Hey, this satire made me laugh.”

I’ve received many forwarded warning messages that were proven wrong by Snopes.com and other fact and truth policing organizations. After reading the facts, I wondered why the person who I respected sent numerous others and me the fake news. Most of the time I reply with the facts so the person doesn’t lose face from subsequent forms of re-messaging, but many times its too late.

The rule of thumb that I use when it comes to re-messaging for myself is to consider if I’d compose the message in the same way. If the answer were yes, then I’d send it as is. But, if the answer was no, then I’d want to rewrite the information before passing it along to my friends and family.

The beauty of rewording the message to meet my true viewpoint, since it will be perceived as my view after re-messaging it, is that I can quickly see if the topic is worth the effort of rewriting it. If its not worth my time and energy, then its not worth filling the Internet with more noise. But, if it is of value, then I need to consider what other important factors may have been left out of the article that I can salt into my version of the message.

While this may or may not keep you safe from falling for fake news, it will at least put your spin on the information. Then when people assume you stand behind what you forward, they will actually know your view.

Copyright © 2017 by CJ Powers

Crayon Messaging Americans Grasp

64_Crayon_Box.pngSome say that Trump’s campaign messages captivated Americans, while Clinton’s messages seemed to miss the mark with critical people groups. Others say it was Trump’s lack of intelligence that helped him speak to the people and Clinton’s high intellect that undercut her attempts at the White House. These comments caused me to consider how the messaging of each candidate helped or hurt their campaign.

To win an election, or to communicate any message, the speaker must exclude some vocabulary so their message is clear and easy for the average American to understand. The media typically presents the nightly news at the 8th grade level to make sure they reach as many people in their viewing audience as possible.

This makes sense to me when I compare the communication of information to crayons. Almost everyone in our country understands the basics of communication. It’s like the average person is able to communicate in the 8 basic crayon colors. You know the ones, those boxes with the really thick crayons that are hard for preschoolers to break.

As we grow older we mature to the level of communicating with a box of 16 crayons. The crayons are smaller, but we’ve doubled the amount of color choices like our increase in vocabulary. Soon we improve to the 24-pack and those more focused learn additional communication skills that serve up one of those cool 64-packs of crayons. And, there are a few that move on to the 152-pack, but its rare.

Abraham Lincoln spoke at an 11th grade level, the highest level spoken during a run for the presidency. Trump spoke at the 4th grade level, which was the lowest level in history for a candidate. George W. Bush, during his run spoke at a 5th grade level. Clinton varied her talks, fluctuating between the 7th and 9th grade levels – possibly blocking many Americans from understanding her message.

You see, Trump spoke using the 8 basic colors we all understand in life. When he said blue, we understood him because the 8-pack comes with blue. But with Clinton using a vocabulary that included the color Cornflower, many 8, 16 and 24-pack people didn’t know she was saying blue because their vocabulary didn’t included the variation she mentioned. They may have thought she changed the subject to farming or baking—get it, Cornflower.

The readability model used to measure the level of a speaker’s comments is called READ. This information is always tracked by organizations including the Boston Globe and Carnegie Mellon University. And, the published results are readily available in many libraries. The document I read came from the Cornell University Library.

My take away from my mini-study is that I can talk to 64-pack people and be understood by them using any of the 64 colors. But, if a 16-pack person joins us at the table, I have to shift my conversation to 16 colors if I want everyone to understand my comments. I saw this play out in a peculiar way just this week.

A wife (64-pack) asked her husband (8-pack) a Cornflower question. His pride didn’t allow him to ask what she was talking about, so he instead stormed off with his voice trailing, “I don’t have time for any of this.” She turned to me and asked if she was being unreasonable with her husband. I nodded, “No,” and suggested she reword her request based on his 8 colors.

It’s frustrating for a wife or husband who has a spouse with less colors of communication ability because they are constantly talking with self-restrictions to be understood. They typically alleviate this frustration by finding a friend that can handle all of their 64 colors of expression, which greatly reduces their stress.

Copyright © 2016 by CJ Powers