Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Hashtags and Funny Hats

As information has become easier to consume, it would appear as if more people are utilizing the democratization of info simply to disseminate product but not to learn anything.

Over the past few years we have seen the rise of the Tea Party Movement. They have come together with clear goals of a smaller government and lower taxes. In the last month, the Occupy Wall Street Movement has materialized with vague and unobjectionable goals of ending greed and bringing about social justice.

These two groups are different and comparisons between them are not fair to either group. The only thing these fringe elements have in common is the idea that their communications structure should be both engaging and promoting their point of view as fact to the media.

The Tea Party, which is blessed with a leadership structure and no qualms about putting a person in charge, has an advantage over OWS but both groups have allocated capital (financial and human) to get the message out (regardless of facts or reality).

I was taken aback by the number of cameras that are at the Occupy Wall Street protests. I would venture that everyone at the protests sees oneself as a journalistic witness. Arguably the Tea Party people are dressing up in Revolutionary War garb not 'cause it is comfortable but to put forth this concept of going back to the good old days of no running water, slavery and true instability on the frontier as truly better than what we got now.

As a communications professional, I know these tactics well, and I have to say that they are being utilized in a one dimensional manner. Over all these protests attract everything the media loves: Folks in funny clothing and uncompromising screaming matches. Facts or even fact checking makes for slower and more deliberate conversations which makes for bad TV. Even so, the media has some sick twisted need to make sure both sides of a story are heard (because there are always two clear sides to a story).

So in order to be heard we end up with sound bites that are devoid of value. Examples:
1. This is what democracy looks like.
2. End the Fed.
Both totally meaningless and back up without fact, action or you know thought.

Ending the Fed would be a problem for like as many reasons as the Fed has tools to fix inflation (zing!). Also for this occupation to look like democracy, the occupiers need to engage in the system of government. They don't seem to be doing that according to recent reports. Sure it isn't great but it is a system that allows for the person with the most votes to make the decisions for a while. So get more people to vote for you and you get your person in charge...(BTDubs, that is what democracy is, not just what it looks like.)

So while the Tea Party has become a force in the margins of the Republican party and in Congress they seem to continue down this path of illogical and non-fact-based reality. It would be nice to OWS go in a different direction, using fact to support their otherwise lovely yet equally meaningless observations. Sure the system sucks, but what are you going to do about it? Sit in a park?

The over abundance of people pretending to have something to say on camera only reenforces the fact that there is nothing to say. For any movement to work, it needs messages. For any movement to last, it needs messages supported by fact.