Cumulus and the Slow Burn of Terrestrial Radio

Last night I got word Cumulus Media, a Knoxville based terrestrial radio conglomerate, fired half the staff in a “cost-cutting” measure. The losses ranged from ad executives, on-air talent, and more as yet to be determined across the spectrum of their stations.

This isn’t something anyone with an eye on the world of radio couldn’t have seen. A local business incubator/startup meeting saw a legendary radio personality glumly admit “terrestrial radio is on its death bed, and maybe it’s time I started looking for work elsewhere.” That’s a grim statement from someone in the trenches and firmly rooted in the radio business.

Cumulus isn’t to be blamed for the decision to cut costs. Fewer people are listening to talk radio, no matter the personality. With the prevalence of satellite radio and podcasts, people are less interested in what’s available over the airwaves locally. That means ad revenue once plentiful to the radio organizations is getting more and more scarce.

Yet decisions have to be made, especially in the areas of news and talk. Do you work with local talent interested in showing their chops to the world if given the chance? Or do you keep paying out the exorbitant fees and ad percentages to guys like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to keep your conservative cred? It’s a tough choice to make, as the local talent would have to make an immediate impact and show they could bring their chops to the table.

On the other hand, you have the big names like Rush and Sean who would attract listeners at the right times. The problem becomes that these are national shows, not local, and there’s going to be less listener interaction with Rush and Sean than the local talent. And part of the appeal for the local “call-in” shows is for the listener to have his or her few moments of glory for the day on the radio.

The Cumulus talent let go in the coming days will have some difficult choices to make. Do they go the terrestrial radio outlet and find another station at which to work? The sports guys might be able to land a gig at another station, since their job is to cover mankind’s successes. Someone with a talk show that has an esoteric bent might not fit in the alt rock or country station of choice.

Satellite radio is basically a no-go unless you’ve already got a national platform. The Breitbarts and wellRED types will get a show at the drop of a hat, because the game in town is getting the biggest and best talent at the biggest dog in the yard, SiriusXM. Even there, where the FCC allegedly has no restrictions, the satellite talent still has issues with the “social consequences” of what they say. Just ask Anthony Cumia.

I have a feeling the talent with Cumulus that left will go the podcasting route. It’s an easy barrier for entry, the cost for each would be minimal, and there’s no restrictions on topic, language, or subject matter unless the hosts place it. Monetization of the product would be simple, and those with a dedicated fan base could make a monthly donation or subscription type service work.

Dave Rubin’s done it. He left ORA and went completely fan-funded. It was a big step for him, but now he’s free to talk with whomever he wants about whatever he wants. There’s no reason the highly motivated talent without work now couldn’t do the same. And something tells me un-shackling from the FCC’s restrictions would produce some amazing content you wouldn’t hear from the talent otherwise.

The Internet, podcasting, and YouTube are some of the greatest areas to earn money as an artist, talent, or creator. Guys like Mike Cernovich and Victor Pride will show you how to do it if you just do a bit of research and put in a little bit of effort. Whether the new radio ronin will take their advice is another matter entirely. Sometimes it’s just easier for people to stay in a rut instead of forge a new path and try new outlets.

Cumulus will have some time for reflection in the wake of their cost-cutting. If, as I suspect, it was done to keep the bigger names on the air, was it really worth the measure when local talent would take the spot in a heartbeat and run with the ball in ways the front brass couldn’t expect? There’s no easy answer to this. No one ever said life in any business was easy.

In the meantime, I’ve taken the time to dip my toes into this new world. This is still a formative project, and something I’m really excited about, so stick with us. You can find my newest experiment on iTunes, Stitcher, or TuneIn.

Sit down with me for an hour. I hope you like what you hear.

When Civility Is A Lost Virtue

Civility used to be considered a noble cause. Polite discourse was the norm. That’s no longer the case in a world where people who harass at a woman are considered “heroic.”

By now the world knows the story of Dan Goldstein, a man who found out Ivanka Trump was on his JetBlue flight, chased her down, and yelled at her about how her father is ruining the United States before being escorted off the flight. His husband, Hunter College professor Matthew Lasner twitted prior to the incident “Ivanka and Jared at JFK T5, flying commercial. My husband chasing them down to harass them. #banalityofevil.” JetBlue “reaccommodated” both parties on the next flight.

Keep this in mind through a filter of the following statement: “Perception is reality.” You’ll need that for later analysis.

Why Lasner and Goldstein chose to do what they did is up to them. Three questions are worth examining in this scenario. First, why did Dan Goldstein think it appropriate to harass Ivanka Trump and yell at her about how her father was “ruining” the country? As much as you may adore or despise Donald Trump, he’s done nothing yet to “ruin” this country. He’s yet to take the oath of office. All we know is he’s decided to tell a bunch of people who he thinks are good people to advise him in the President’s cabinet. Goldstein did nothing more than yell at a woman who happens to be the President-elect’s daughter until he was taken off the plane for it.

Take the name “Ivanka Trump” out of the same scenario and Goldstein is the villain in anyone’s eyes. He’s a guy who decided to yell at a woman on a plane until he was escorted off. Yet because the Pantsuit Nation crowd lost the election, and they can’t begin to understand why, the one response left is to keep getting angry about it, painting the President and his family as some sort of new world Hitler, and justifying it because reasons. It’s unacceptable to harass anyone, regardless of gender, race, religion, pronoun choice, or whatever justification you dream up.

Question number two is why Matthew Lasner felt compelled to twit to the world his husband’s impending actions? Harassment is still a crime, and since airports are covered under Federal law, Lasner “virtue signaled” to the world his husband’s intent to potentially cause a criminal act. While it’s unclear whether Ivanka suffered any fear of imminent death or even “substantial emotional distress” because of Goldstein’s outburst, it’s generally not a good idea to broadcast to the world your husband’s decision to potentially commit a crime. The twit is deleted, but screenshots are everywhere, and if Ivanka chose to sue, well, it’s not hard to imagine someone doing a quick Google search to find it as evidence.

Finally, why does anyone think this is acceptable, much less laudable behavior? Take the Trump name out of the equation and Goldstein and Lasner are absolutely the asshole villains in this scenario. Yet because it’s the President elect’s daughter, and therefore the perception is “Lady Hitler,” it’s considered appropriate. One writer for @midnight and the Onion even considers the act “heroic.”

And to make a broader point: liberals need to stop being nice. Right away. Now. This sham of tolerance and civility has done nothing for the Democrats and everything for the GOP…Stop being nice. Stop. Stop it…Keep shouting in their faces. Keep confronting them wherever and whenever possible. Show that you’re willing to actually fight for something, goddammit, even if that entails temporarily looking mean.

Joe Randazzo’s skin in this game is unclear. Yet he’s on the path to something worth discussing. “Tolerance” and “civility” got conservatives nowhere for eight straight years. Taking the moral high ground on every position bought no political capital. At some point, conservatives started using the same tactics the left used, realizing the only way to win was a shift in strategy. This was something the “progressive liberal” front couldn’t stand. They decided to shift strategies, and go high when conservatives went low.

That strategy shift, attempting to become morally superior, didn’t work. The nation called the newly labeled “regressive left” out on its bullshit. It led to the election of a President Trump. Now that those who stood #WithHer lost, they’re upset about it, and coming unhinged. Not that they were ever really in the business of being nice, as Randazzo points out.

The “tolerant” liberal needs to go away for a while because, the fact is, liberals aren’t that tolerant anyway. They’re mean and they’re mad and they are barely able to hide it anymore.

The myth of the “tolerant liberal” is a myth on full display for eight years straight. While people fought over bathrooms, worlds burned. When people argued over stupid videos about “privilege” and “institutionalized” racism, others mocked the deaths of people who didn’t vote the same way they did in a Presidential election. And yet at every turn, the conservatives just took the punches until they decided they were mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

If perception is reality, then the reality is the nation that voted in President Trump perceives each screed like Randazzo’s as one more bit of proof the regressive left can’t handle civility. They were never interested in being civil, or having honest discussions about a damned thing. All they wanted was to tell everyone what to do, what to say, and how to think, and act like nannies while doing it.

Civility is dead. It may exist somewhere as a faded memory, but both sides of the aisle are now only interested in anger.

 

Taking Communication Seriously

We don’t communicate effectively because we don’t take communication seriously. I recently came to this startling conclusion after, predictably*, listening to the Jim Cornette Experience.

During a recent broadcast, Cornette, a former pro wrestling manager turned social commentator, lamented the passing of pro wrestling as he knew it because none of the new generation knew how to take “the business” seriously. No one had it drummed into their heads “the business” was something where you created a suspension of disbelief. This created a generation of workers who equated matches with video games. Crowds who chant “this is awesome” no matter the actions of the heels or the babyfaces.

The same holds true for communication. We don’t communicate because newer generations don’t take the art of communication seriously. Worse, technology makes it easy for all to simply ignore the art of effective communication. Why attempt the nuance of a face to face conversation with someone, or a simple phone call, when you have texting, email, Facebook Messenger, or Twitter at your disposal?

When it’s simply words on a digital screen, the nuance of speech is gone. Once you stop interacting with others, you lose the ability to read facial expressions and body language. The person receiving your message is left to their own devices to figure out what the hell you meant. Sometimes they’ll lose the message you intended and go for the exact opposite.

That moment of digital interaction as opposed to the flesh and bone connection of human beings is an easy, thoughtless choice. It’s also a dangerous way to live. Those who choose to cut themselves off from society run dangerously high risks of mental illness. That’s because people are genetically social beings. We need human interaction. Losing that means losing a portion of what makes you a human.

Yet we encourage this. It’s now easier than ever to order your groceries through a smartphone and have them delivered curbside to your car. We discourage visits to local retailers because Amazon makes it so easy to pay with one click. And food? Simply have it delivered to your door with a few clicks of a button. No need to deal with pesky waiters and waitresses ever again!

This disconnect also makes it easy for people to live in echo chambers by never experiencing an unpleasant thought, word, or deed. If you don’t like someone’s social media posts, it’s easy to simply block the offender for life. Take issue with something you see at website of your choosing and label it “fake news.” And if someone does something you find “problematic” simply cut them out of your life instead of addressing the problem.

We take communication as seriously as pro wrestlers take the business seriously. It’s just easier for us to take the digital way out instead of having honest conversations about big ideas. This leaves the genetic aspect of our lives to a ruinous waste, but who cares? Better to punch a button on your iToy or say “Hey Alexa, send a Christmas card to my uncle” than actually take time to tell that person how much you mean to them.

Want to know why we’re divided societally? Thank your emoji-addicted pals.

*If you don’t know why this came “predictably,” you’ve not spoken with me at great length.

Three in One Week.

Three different shootings in one week’s time.

First Alton Sterling, a guy selling CDs, gunned down by police.  That was bad enough.  Immediately we got word of his record, the fact he was a “sex offender,” that the shoot was “righteous” and “probably preventable.”  None of this made taking a human life any easier to digest.

We barely got through one day before social media became awash with the Facebook live streaming of Philando Castile’s death.  That one hit harder than Sterling, largely because of his little girl saying “It’s okay Mommy, I’m here for you.”  I retreated to my family for that one, largely because I have a little girl, and wanted to hold her tight that night.

Less than twenty-four hours past that death, we get Dallas.  Five police officers lose their lives in what appears to be a coordinated domestic terrorist attack.  One shooter apparently stated this was about the deaths of Sterling and Castile, and that he wanted to take out as many police officers as possible.  Bonus points if those cops were white.

This isn’t America, and yet we’ve allowed ourselves to sink to a new low.  We allowed it through social media, and calls for violence against each other.  We allowed a degeneration in discourse by sinking to the level of charged memes that don’t present nuanced views of the world.  We’re expected to make our points in 140 characters or less, and if you don’t express anything less than the correct view you’re painted with the full blast of “ists.”  Racist, sexist, ableist, etc.  It just goes on and on without any real meaning to the words.

I’ve seen good, honest people say the deaths in Dallas were justified, that we can’t reach any solution without violence.  I’ve seen people who are content to spew filth behind the anonymity of a keyboard reach the conclusion the only way change comes is if blood is shed.  I’ve seen police officers, people with families, reduced to talking points and depicted as animals tied to Rich Uncle Pennybags’ waist. All this because we’ve stopped talking and started screaming.

Here’s a really interesting thought experiment:  What if we stopped screaming and started talking?  When someone says something you disagree with, why not dispose of the name calling and ask them what they really meant by the statement that offended you so badly you had to run screaming to a puppy room?

For every single “Fuck the Police,” is there a “Fuck Racism” or “Fuck Senseless Deaths” to match?

Maybe, just maybe, we could get past all that and proceed straight to “We’ve got some problems, now it’s time for a serious discussion?”  Or are we so wrapped up in the next PokeStop we find, working on our respective Klout score, and pandering to our Periscope viewer audience that real, intelligent discussion is past our view?

A few days ago I poked a bit of fun at the Declaration of Independence as viewed by modern society.  It was born out of the quickly escalating notion the Constitution is an outdated document that doesn’t reflect modern values or ideas and needs to be updated.  Smarter minds than I have repeatedly pointed out if we really want to go down that road, our Founders worked a mechanism into the document for that change.  If we really went that way, though, it wouldn’t just be the oft-maligned Second Amendment that went out the door.  It might be the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments too.  Of course, all of that falls on deaf ears as we reach new lows in shifting blame on mass shootings and discussing why it’s a great idea to kill cops.

Here’s a better idea.  Instead of spreading hatred, spend time with those you love.  Give your family a hug.  Talk to an old friend you haven’t seen or heard from in ages.  Let them all know you care about them and love them.  Hold them tight, because you never know when it’ll be the last chance you get to do so.

Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the five officers in Dallas all had families.  Each family now grieves for a life lost, black, white, or blue.  Saying one death was “legal but preventable” or that the cops in Dallas “deserved to die” because “real revolution comes with violence” doesn’t make it any easier for those searching for ways to lay the dead to rest.

Take some time and show those you love that you mean it today.  Lay down the smart phone, stop trying to get extra likes or retweets, and focus on that what matters most: the lives of your loved ones.

Compound Communication Update: Soundcloud

We’re moving the Collaborative Compound Podcasts back to a regular schedule, and we’re moving them to Soundcloud.  That means RSS feed integration, iTunes, Stitcher, and otherwise support, and more, which means you’ll get more Mediation is Dead Content than before, where you want it, when you want it.  We’re about empowering people through communication skills, and that requires constant evolution.

I’ve gotten nothing but positive feedback from my Blab and Periscope sessions.  That’s all well and good, but podcasting is a major business these days for people who need a message broadcasted to the world.  Originally, I’d used a platform called Spreakr since it was an iPhone app and I could record straight from my iPhone 5S.  I learned something very quickly from those initial Collaborative Compound Podcasts.

The first thing I learned is Spreakr is shit compared to other platforms.  There’s little to no visibility for your podcasts, the WordPress plugin is buggy at best, and the limited functionality makes it hard to record something people want to listen to.

The second was the message transmitted to the world wasn’t getting received in the right places. If you want your message heard in the right areas you’ve got to go the route of regular content updates to Stitcher, iTunes, and the rest of the podcast aggregators out there.  Spreakr didn’t have the same visibility, so it had to go.

All of this is in testing mode, mind you.  One thing I’ve learned since beginning Mediation is Dead is the practice of forming an online business and presence is very much a learning game.  One of my favorite podcasts by Mike Cernovich detailed the formation of Danger and Play, as well as the Mike Cernovich podcast.  He freely admitted he didn’t know what he was doing when he got started and his business was very much a “learn as you go” enterprise.  I like that sort of “wrongless approach” to life Mike has, so I embrace it ruthlessly as I work to spread my message.

I went from a Twitter handle of TVDog to my current, @clsesq, which now extends to Instagram and Snapchat.  I evolved from Spreakr to Soundcloud, and continue to work with Periscope and Blab in order to spread the message of better communication to end conflict so parties can stay out of the court system.  I’ve learned content monetization, SEO optimization, and more just based on a desire to get my message to the world and a preference for being resourceful over begging people continually to help me out.

And that take on resourcefulness, the ability to evolve your work, continues to make the entire enterprise fulfilling each day.  Learning is a great endeavor, but when you undertake learning with a desire to evolve in knowledge then it’s a killer combination.

That’s all for now.  Transmissions from the Compound are forthcoming, and I guarantee you won’t want to miss any of them.

The Maggie McNeill Incident

When I write at Fault Lines I usually do so from a very serious perspective. This is because keeping the cracks in our criminal justice system visible and educating the public about the law is serious. When the weekend comes, we usually loosen our belts, let our hair down, and have fun. My mischief caught the attention of Maggie McNeill this week, and the whole story is a great lesson in communication.

Every Friday afternoon at Fault Lines I usually post something I find funny or interesting.  This week’s post was a “suggestion” we make it a felony should a car seat manufacturer create a child safety seat that’s so complex it requires a special certification or rocket science degree to install.  This happened because of an incident I experienced this week installing my son’s new ReCaro car seat and nearly devolved into a murderous rage over it.  Fault Lines gives me a national soapbox and a chance to tell some really bad jokes, so I made it a point to find a story about car seats being a “public health crisis” and suggest criminalizing every car seat manufacturer that produced a seat responsible for a death.

One of the nicer perks of being a Fault Lines contributor is that when someone links to my posts, I get an email notification.  This time it was from the Honest Courtesan blog, and the link stunned me a little bit.

“Solution to “public health crises” used to be vaccination; now it’s prison.”

This was not good.  I had to do something to instill a little clarity here.  Maggie McNeill is one of the most interesting people on the web, if you don’t read her work regularly.  She’s a writer, an academic, and a sex worker.  This is not someone you want to get into a fight with when it comes to criminalization of conduct in any way, shape, or form.  It’s not that I’m afraid of a good verbal spar with Maggie, I just know my limits and I know if I stray into certain areas (like sex work) with her, I’m probably going to be in for a twelve round, judges’ decision level fight.  I had to at least clue her in on the gig, so I tweeted Maggie and told her it was a joke.

About three PM Eastern she replies with an apology and says she had no idea Fault Lines posted anything but 100% dead serious content.  I respond by linking her my “Modest St. Paddy’s Day” proposal and showing her some of the reactions from last week’s skewering of Nick Fuhst’s conduct at a local Hooters.  My boss doesn’t exactly like it when I throw out puns, so I’d made it a point to write for my audience with those bits of business.

My editor did jump to my defense, and I appreciate his support sincerely.  Maggie’s blog is one of the cooler places on the web to go, and she’s quite accessible on social media.  I just had no desire to piss her off, so when I saw the link hit from the beginning I knew I’d have to take some action.

I also appreciate Maggie letting her readership know I’m not on the side of over-criminalization.  The fact this escaped her here, when she’s linked to my work in the past concerning kids and the way the system treats children, makes me wonder just what communication error was in play here.  She had the guts to tell me the joke bombed, which I respect, but did I really come across as someone who found such a drastic action worthy of legislative consideration?  Regardless, it’s definitely something I’m going to have to consider going forward as I write what we affectionately term our “Friday Funnies.”  It’s my one outlet for stand-up comedy since I don’t really do open mics consistently anymore, and I want to see Fault Lines’ readers end their weeks with a laugh and not wondering whether I support some creep’s behavior.

There’s good to come from all of this, though.   If you’re not following Maggie McNeill on Twitter, do so.  And read her blog, “The Honest Courtesan.”  If you’re coming here from Maggie’s socials and blog, do me a solid, follow me @clsesq on Twitter, @cls.esq on Instagram, and clsesq on Snapchat.  And sign up for Fault Lines’ newsletter, so you can see all my bad jokes at the end of the week in your email inbox.

Candace Owens’ Spiral Into [ableist slur]

Candace Owens, the face of Social Autopsy and now “Founder and CEO” of her blog Degree 180.com, is going through an incredible public meltdown as her quest to end online harassment burns out quickly.  Owens’ newest tactic in her repeated attempts at attention grabbing and virtue signaling is calling journalists who either won’t talk about her or say negative things about her and her projects names in posts at Degree 180.

The first shot fired was at Jesse Singal of New York Magazine, who didn’t exactly treat Ms. Owens or her Social Autopsy project too kindly.  Jesse still gave Candace Owens a voice, and crafted his story from available information and her comments.  Since the piece wasn’t 100% glowing and loving of Owens, she chose to label Singal as a “fraud” and accuse NY Magazine of “scamming” her into an interview.  It’s a bizarre set of allegations, but the crazy train doesn’t end with Owens’ hit job on Singal’s journalistic credentials or New York Magazine’s credibility.  The next stop is the Washington Post and Caitlin Dewey over a story that never ran.

It got really interesting on Owens’ Twitter feed when she began demanding her followers help her contact Dewey over some sort of issue.  I’ve been watching Owens attempt time and time again to get national news to cover her story.  It’s all one big attention grab, most likely for a book deal at some point in the future.  Owens has alluded she’s potentially building towards a film, stating she’s constantly recording everything that’s going on as she attempts to connect Randi Lee Harper and Zoe Quinn to GamerGate.  Then a post aired on Degree 180 accusing Dewey and the Washington Post of not running a story and attempting to smear Owens’ reputation.  By never talking about Candace Owens and Social Autopsy.

This refusal to talk about Owens at all led Candace to call Caitlin Dewey a “smug bitch,” “pompous,” “arrogant,” and saw Owens justify pleading with her Twitter followers to harass Caitlin Dewey as a means of enforcing her personal digital “insurance policy.”  She then goes on to smear the Washington Post, telling her readers they’ve “lost all credibility” at the hands of “a few bad reporters.”  I haven’t even gotten to the libel accusations yet.  That’s the next part of the unhinged rants and delusional fantasies Owens has to manufacture in order to stay relevant or get some kind of attention.  Let’s take a step back and discuss David Malitz, Dewey’s editor and attempted peacemaker.  After defending one of his writers, Owens had no choice but to attack him and say he’s a liar.

Malitz attempted, if Owens can still be believed (I’m having a hard time getting to that point), to contact her and discuss several exchanges between Caitlin Dewey and Candace Owens.  For his efforts Malitz got branded as a “liar,” a “corrupt journalist,” and branded the Post as “absolute shit.”  There’s honestly no level at this point to which Owens won’t sink, and the libel allegations are part of that.

The “open letter” to Caitlin Dewey is made on a site devoted to the “manosphere,” discusses people in glowing terms that Dewey apparently didn’t like, and accuses her of making up lies.  I’m not going to go into detail over the letter and the writer, as they’re not points of relevancy to this story.  What is relevant is Owens took this as a valid libel accusation and ran with it in her latest attempt to create a conspiracy theory out of nothing.  It was an opinion, but it confirmed Owens’ beliefs this entire debacle is a conspiracy theory, so she ran with it.  I wish this were the end of the screed but it’s not.  The next step is to involve Amazon and Jeff Bezos, since Bezos owns The Washington Post.

Owens begins by stating she’s not a conspiracy theorist.  Then she places a signature pattern interrupt by saying “but if I were.”  Remember this: when someone introduces “but” into a conversation it usually means the first part of the conversation isn’t true or a belief structure is invalid.

“But” in a conversation reverses the language structure.  

“But if I were a conspiracy theorist, I’d note (x) (y) and (z)” is the framing structure of Candace Owens’ attempt to link all her arguments together and justify her “expose'” of this massive scandal she calls “#JournalGate.”  She notes Bezos owns the post, and that Simon and Schuster is a company that plans on publishing Zoe Quinn’s upcoming book, and that the Post’s involvement means Amazon is involved with this massive conspiracy, and so many other incomprehensible lines continue in this realm it makes my head hurt.

I will keep an eye open if the saga of Candace Owens continues its lunacy into a new realm, but for now I can’t devote any extra eyes or energy to this matter.  Owens’ continued attempts at framing this narrative as “everyone who disagrees with me” turned into a nutty realm where “everyone who doesn’t talk about me now is a target,” and I don’t want to be a part of her attention grab any further.  As I bow out of this act for the time being, let’s take a look at the spiral and the ways Candace Owens decided to handle herself.

1. Someone launches a Kickstarter to stop online harassment and cyberbullying.

2. An alleged “victim” of cyberbullying reaches out to this person in an attempt to show her lists and name calling didn’t help.

3. The response is for this person to engage in a systematic campaign of cyberbullying and online harassment against her detractor.  When someone else jumps in to aid a friend, that person gets called names too.

4. After the Kickstarter fails, the only response is to declare a “conspiracy” between the individuals who said her project failed and their alleged “harassers.”

5. When people disagree with this person, or refuse to talk about her at all, she engages in more name calling and harassment.

I’ve written on incongruence in message and actions before.  It seems like people actually managed to spot Candace Owens’ incongruency up front and tell her the proposed “help” wasn’t good for anyone.  Her response was to engage further in the incongruency instead of fixing her message and “walk the talk.”  Now the entire venture has revealed Owens is just as much of a bully and harasser as those she decries.

It’s no wonder journalists or investors won’t take Candace Owens seriously when they spot her engaging in the same tactics she decries.

Lessons Learned From Roasting Social Autopsy

Fault Lines has been generous enough to let me take a story and lampoon it or come up with some comic laden angle every Friday.  On the 15th we ran with a story on Social Autopsy where I “roasted” them with insult after insult.  For further giggles, I anchored every paragraph with a hook developed by comedian Carlos Valencia: “It Gets Worse.” What ends up surprising me is over the weekend people started picking up the post and taking it seriously!

One person picked up the post and twitted it as analysis of Social Autopsy’s problems.  Then people started applauding it as a “refreshing take” on the site’s attempt to end cyber bullying by actually cyber bulling people.  Yet another person got in touch with me on Twitter and argued that in our current climate of butthurt it might turn into a viable business model, comparing it to Peeple, another failed attempt at trying to smear character in a thinly-veiled attempt to spread “positivity.”  There’s lessons to be learned from this exercise I think worth sharing.

  1. People don’t care for the online “naming and shaming” or “call out culture” anymore.

We used to take this approach and laud it as a means of “eradicating” certain wrongthink or shun peoples’ ideas we found offensive or hurtful to others.  Now it’s something recognized as a bad idea in a country that values free speech, and people who attempt to use the technique and turn it into a business model are going to see some inevitable blowback if they try to reinvent the “reputation” wheel.

2. There is a blowback against monetizing reputation or attempting to run people out of a job in the name of “inclusivity” and “diversity.”

Justine Sacco lost her job over a tweet.  Pax Dickinson can’t get a job in tech because of a proclivity to be “trolly.” People now don’t accept this as a proper way to handle conflict, and they’re calling out those who justify this sort of idea as a means to promote a narrative of “words hurt and harm.”  It’s the inevitable response to years of using these tactics to cost people their jobs, reputations, and more.

On a recent episode of The Rubin Report, Paul Joseph Watson of Prison Planet and Infowars called the rise of this cultural libertarianism inevitable because “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”  I tend to agree with him.  The push against Social Autopsy, and Peeple before it, is now largely reflective of a contrarian approach to the victimhood mentality or the “call out culture” propagated by the regressive movement that tells us “You can’t say that.”

3. The moment towards making free speech cool again is gaining traction.

Companies and conferences that “no platform” speakers or executives are getting outed for their work.  Protesters that try to silence others are getting resistance.  Even the recent trends of “Chalking” areas with messages others find “offensive” or “unsafe” are beginning to see some blowback with people deliberately using “The Chalkening” to promote free speech instead of stifling it.  The reactionary, provocateur approach is slowly building up a wonderful trend of giving others a chance to speak, and real discussion to begin.

4.  Change in thought concerning speech can happen, even if it’s painful.

There are a few people who gave up on the approach that society would ever shift back in the direction of our old “Marketplace of Ideas” mentality towards free speech.  It’s understandable, and the numbing view is a cultural marker in communication.  When the shift to limit speech and shame people into groupthink began the first trend was deliberate self-censorship.  People just bought into the idea and refused to speak on topics of interest, or even just engage in a back and forth to have fun.  They knew this because of the “social consequences” model justifying this manner of behavior.  No one wants to lose a steady source of income over a few words.

As time passed the approach just became numbing to people.  We knew this cultural shift occurred, and became largely indifferent to it.  The naming and shaming life was the New Normal, and we simply analyzed it and called the practice what it was.  We didn’t really do anything about it, because the idea of shifting cultural practices didn’t seem possible.  The movement was just that powerful.

Now we’re seeing a movement begin that’s changing the way we view speech.  It’s the result of people getting sick and tired of being able to discuss real issues and real problems in our country without getting labeled “racist, sexist and homophobic.” Those terms still get thrown around, but they’ve been used so much the new movement of cultural libertarianism’s response is “you’ve used those terms so much to describe people those words lost their meaning. We’re going to continue the discussion.”

It’s a great time to be alive.  The lessons learned from the blowback over Social Autopsy prove that we’re headed in the right direction again.  Eventually we’re going to return to a cultural future where we value open, plain, honest discussion of issues instead of buying into group narratives where people stay silent at the risk of personal and professional loss.

That’s when the real discussions over issues of concern will begin.  That’s when we’ll make real progress.  That’s when we’ll see real racism, sexism, and societal concerns addressed through open and honest discussion.

Get a chance to embrace the “Wrongless Approach.” It’s a great way to live.

Want to learn persuasion and suggestion skills?  We can make that happen.

Ignore, then Scream

You can learn more from kids about human nature than you’ll ever learn from a legal battle or a mediator.  I’m going to show you how that works by discussing a concept called “ignore, then scream.”

My eldest child had an issue when our son came home from the hospital.  The first thing she wanted to do was ignore his presence.  Eventually she had to realize our son was a part of the family, and he wasn’t going to go away anytime soon.  This put a dilemma in her head.  She had to figure out a way to stop his vocalizations when he started talking, so she started screaming whenever our son decided to “find his voice.”

It was very clear what our daughter had in mind, on reflection.  She didn’t have the means to articulate how she felt about our son speaking so she took the tack of screaming to make him be quiet.  Our son decided to use that and start getting louder, ramping up every single time he wanted to antagonize her.  It was a destructive cycle, and we needed to break it.

One attempt was first pointing out the behavior and telling our daughter what she was doing.  “He’s just talking.  You can say “Hi Baby.” That wasn’t exactly effective.  I didn’t really understand why until something from the head Professional Opportunist, James Brown, had taught me during our first conversation.  Our meeting today reinforced this.

First, my daughter was not in a position to really understand why she thought my son “talking” was a bad thing, nor did she have a means of articulating this.  Our kids are growing continually and developing their language centers.  They don’t bust out of the gate speaking English in full.  This means when kids speak, the largest method of their communication comes from the non-verbal world.  Non-verbal communication requires not just a projection of that communication “message.”  You also have to look at how the child reacts, and watch for your response to their actions.

The best example I can give you here is to discuss how you handle the screaming.  Eventually the behavior became less about the screams and more about learning why we reacted in a negative fashion to the screams.  It was an attention seeking behavior, and it had to be treated as such if one would ever see this behavior resolved.  How you resolve that behavior would largely determine how the kids would view interactions from there.

If you treat the behavior as something that’s negative, you run the risk of getting negative attention from the child and watching your child develop a pattern of negative attention seeking behavior.  Simply yelling at the child or giving them a spanking won’t fix it.  The best method we found for dealing with the screaming was to trivialize it.  Make the behavior inconsequential and silly, and then the child will eventually shape that behavior pattern into the better realm of “This is a silly behavior that doesn’t get me what I want.  It’s probably better if I modify this to get the desired result.” Consequentially, you have to take the child and reward the good behaviors with abject praise.  That was how we conquered the “ignore, then scream.”

How does this apply to family law?  Simple.  When divorce litigants get started in the process, they apply the “ignore, then scream” approach to litigation.  They don’t want to think about their respective conflict, or the problems that conflict brings.  They want to make sure they get their voice heard the most.  At the most basic stage, when they have an inkling their voice may be silenced in a conflict, the first response will be a “scream.”  They will respond, and the response will be loud and harsh.  That isn’t going to benefit anyone who doesn’t recognize the response, so here are a few tips for the conflict resolution professional to help them get to a place where they can “squelch the scream.”

Recognize the “ignore, then scream.” 

You’re going to see this as soon as you apply the thought pattern to family law.  When you recognize it the best course of action is to say to yourself “I see this for what it is, I realize it’s an “ignore then scream” and I’m going to make a positive approach to dealing with this because I don’t want bad behavior from one of my clients who is attempting to negatively seek attention from me.” That approach will give you the ability to proceed forward from a place of confidence.

Trivialize the behavior with a certain level of caution. 

You don’t want your clients thinking you believe their approach to be silly, no matter how much you may see it to be that.  However, there’s ways to direct the conversation elsewhere so you can shape the behaviors in a method advantageous to you.  Try Jerry Interventions, or another similar pattern interrupt when you see the negative behaviors occur.  That will allow you to make the behavior seem “silly” without actually telling someone “You shouldn’t do that.  It’s kind of silly.”  Better to keep the business than reject it.

Add in a laugh.  

Spot a point where you can inject a little humor into the communication.  Usually people who are going through divorces or child custody battles are so focused on the “Ignore then scream” approach they can’t take a couple minutes to just focus on something positive.  If you give someone a positive focus to approach the scenario with “relaxed confidence,” you’ve taken hold of the dialogue and you’ve gotten a positive focus for your clients without ever revealing your hand.

There’s three tips to dealing with the “ignore, then scream” approach for your family law client.  All learned from child behavior.

Leave Facebook for Real Life

I’m leaving Facebook behind because it’s a place full of navel-gazing bullshit.  Facebook doesn’t allow you to communicate with the world.  Facebook is a place where people go for validation, self-recognition, cat pictures, George Takei’s average gem, and ads.  Facebook doesn’t allow for Mediation is Dead, so I’m rarely there anymore.

Real life, conversely, doesn’t give a damn about you.  Real life means that you have to learn to communicate with others.  Real life means that you listen to those with whom you disagree, no matter how uncomfortable the conversation.  That’s where I need to head, and when I get back to that spot where I’m in real life, working with others, then I gain greater focus, clarity, and an understanding of what this world is really about: being able to communicate again with others and get your message across in an effective manner.

Do you know the algorithm behind Facebook?  It’s tailored to make sure you have a strong confirmation bias in your life.  It’s there to make sure Facebook is your “safe space,” because Facebook wants you to be there all the time, 24/7, checking in for everything you want to see, rather than the uncomfortable truth.  If you’re on Facebook you’re constantly seeing what you want to see. You’re seeing what those around you want to see.  It’s not reality, but if you’re living life on Facebook then you’re not living real life. You’re living a fiction you want to live.

Take your quizzes.  Take your cat pictures.  Take your memes, and get them the fuck out of my life.  I don’t get a damn thing done with Facebook.  I just get to a point where I’m deep in a rabbit hole of pandering bullshit. I’m arguing with people when I don’t need to argue.

I talked with a good friend of mine lately who’s more “conflict free” than I am.  He hasn’t checked his Facebook feed in about a year.  He’s much happier for it, because he’s living in real life.  He’s learned how to communicate with others.  He credits a good portion of that to “unplugging” from Facebook.

Another person I know hasn’t been on the site in about a year as well.  She’s happier and more together as a whole than most of us could be, because Facebook shows us what we want.  She decided that she’d get off Facebook and make her dreams come true, and she managed to do it by staying away from a website that’s a drug.

Real life is hard.  Real life doesn’t show you what you want to see.  Real life means that you have to face conflict when you see it, and when you get to real life, you have to address it as best you can.  Real life will make you grow, change, and be better.

Twitter’s only marginally better.  There you have to work to find what you want to see.  There you’re exposed to shadow bans, block lists, and people muting what you have to say.  But on Twitter you can learn things about people you can’t find anywhere else.

Facebook won’t even give you that.  I know this because I see people engaged with Facebook in ways they think is beneficial.  It’s not.  Once that algorithm starts its magic, you’re done.  You have to check in regularly.  You never know what you’re going to miss in a person’s life.  You get afraid of missing out.  There’s other ways to make sure you don’t miss out, but you won’t listen to those ways, because Facebook governs your life.  It’s the town crier in the world of the small-minded.

Leave behind the fear of missing out and you’ll get to a “conflict-free” life.  

When I leave Facebook, when I turned off the notifications, when I get focused, I get things done that most people can’t.  I make sure that I don’t instinctively respond to the “(x) commented on your post” responses.  I write.  I research.  I read.  And yet people think that Facebook is a good way to keep in touch with your “friends?” It’s done nothing but plan and set up your entire day from moment one.

Leave that stupid site behind and get into real life.  Don’t allow yourself to fall into the notion that the “town crier” consisting of virtual picket fences where people talk amongst themselves is anything but a place where people can’t learn anything other than what they want to learn and see what they want to see.

The best approach, the “wrongless approach” is to make sure that you don’t let social media use you.  You make sure that when you use social media, you’re doing it for a strategic advantage.

Be conflict-free.  Live the MiD life.  Embrace real life.