Who controls the narrative?
Are you watching the Democratic Convention? I’m certainly not. Once upon a time, in the three network world, the conventions happened and they wiped out TV, they were all that was on the tube. Then came the cable era, and you didn’t have to watch if you didn’t want to. And now in the flat screen era…the networks are sideshows, cable news is a biased slugfest and we have options not only on streaming TV, but the entire internet, the whole world has been connected, and we can interact with each other. But being heard? That’s a whole ‘nother animal.
Distribution is king. Never let anybody tell you otherwise. It’s very simple…if you create something, however great, and you can’t get it into the marketplace, if people can’t be made aware of it and be exposed to it…your tree fell in the forest and no one heard it. But in 2020, distribution has been flattened, we all have access, now what?
The key used to be to rig the game. But the public is too experienced now, it’s been burned too many times. So, if you try to manipulate consciousness, if you try to manipulate virality, people realize this and bite back, you’re worse off than if you never attempted to hoodwink them to begin with.
And then there is the low-level art and commerce that is made only for virality, i.e. TikTok and the Kardashians. Would the Kardashians be having all that plastic surgery, would they be playing to the camera if there were no camera? Of course not! What you’ve got is caste of hardly educated bodies speaking to those as empty as themselves, don’t mistake these people for influencers, they’re marketers pure and simple, they can sell products, but they don’t affect minds whatsoever, they’re not influencing anybody to think, to examine the precepts, to question whether their beliefs are accurate.
Now we’ve got this sea of madness, and on top of it a construct we’re told makes sense, that delivers order, when nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, we’ve got two political tribes, but the truth is America, the entire world, has been broken into a zillion jigsaw puzzle pieces, and no one is even attempting to put them together, if anything they’re denying this fracturing.
So, you can be sitting at home wondering if you’re the only one who believes this way. You feel like a party of one. And, if you express your opinions, if you go against groupspeak, you’re shouted down, you’re messing with the system. Meanwhile, that’s the goal of the right, to get us questioning our ideas and our influences to the point we second guess ourselves and give up.
I’ve been following Umair Haque on Twitter for years. I don’t want to follow the big news organizations, I don’t want my feed cluttered, if I want to know what they think, I’ll just go to their sites. You see on Twitter, I’m looking for ideas, analysis, people who can put it all together, who’ve been spending their entire lives in the niche and have analyzed it and are now speaking about it. Of course, there’s the trope that Twitter is just a slice of the public and it does not matter, but the truth is Twitter is a hotbed of intellectualism. If you’re selling, Twitter is the wrong place to be. If you want to connect with the brain dead, go elsewhere. But if you want to argue about the concepts, Twitter is the place, and there you can affect the thoughts of others, and Twitter followers can find out they’re not alone. Oh, they may not be alone on Facebook, where oldsters share stories of their children and their lifestyles, but you’ll feel inadequate looking at photos on Instagram, believing you’re a loser who has been left behind, but on Twitter…money is irrelevant, it’s about who you are, what you think, and if you find someone who is saying what you believe, EUREKA!, you’re now a party of two.
So I was scrolling through my Twitter feed this evening and Umair Haque was live-tweeting the convention. I didn’t even know that was still a thing. But contrary to the media lovefest, Haque was criticizing the bloviators, pointing out how they were missing the point. Haque said we do not need testimony as to the character of Joe Biden, we all know he’s decent. But who was speaking to economic conditions, who was evidencing a plan, who was convincing the young ‘uns to come out and support this ticket? Oh, Haque had positive words for Bernie Sanders, but the only reason he was allowed to speak was to give the imprimatur of wokeness to Biden, to signal his followers to vote for Joe. But the truth is Bernie’s agenda has been thrown overboard, what we now have is consultants playing it up the middle, safe, it’s all about beating Trump, is this a good strategy?
So last night Jason Hirschhorn sent me a link. This is not a regular occurrence. Especially on a Sunday night. Obviously, it was important. Do you have sources whose links you’ll click? The truth is we all do, and they’re very few, most of what is sent/forwarded is ignored, because readers have been burned too many times, and most people are incapable of writing, especially so-called authorities like college professors. And when I clicked through I found this article by Umair Haque entitled:
What hooked me were these lines:
“The Democrats have – prepare to stifle a giggle, or maybe spit out your coffee…THREATENED TO HOLD HEARINGS.
Oh no, I’m sure the authoritarians are quaking in their boots. Hearings! Wow!”
Wow, indeed. I felt alone all weekend. Pelosi was reconvening Congress for hearings about the USPS? When did that ever result in progress, when did that ever make a difference. Bill Barr just testified, no change. Even Mueller before him. So, everybody will feel good that they did something and…nothing will change.
So, what does Haque propose?
MASS PROTESTS! Like Belarus. In front of the White House. Insisting Trump RESIGN!
Are you paying attention to Belarus? Change is fomenting. But it’s better to protest BEFORE the election.
So now I’m hooked. You know how exciting it is to find someone on your own page? YOU WANT MORE!
So I click to last week’s article:
And I’m positively stunned. For a week now, we’ve been subjected to endless press coronating Kamala Harris, how the choice of her to be V.P. was positively genius. BUT NOT UMAIR HAQUE!
Umair drills down, dispassionately. Does Kamala add to the ticket. WILL KAMALA BRING OUT THE YOUTH VOTE?
Yes, the youth not reading “The New York Times,” the youth not watching this convention, the youth who are riding in the back seat if they’re in the car at all, the youth aligned with Bernie who didn’t bother to vote for him in the primaries! Yes, that’s what this election depends on, getting out the vote. Not so much your friends who talk politics, but the downtrodden who believe they’re screwed and the government isn’t doing anything for them…what are the Democrats promising them, who is speaking to them, can Kamala do this?
I’ll let you read the analysis.
But now, like Jason Hirshhorn, I’m forwarding Haque’s articles. I’m a personal marketer, I want to expose his ideas to others, I’m texting even though it’s two in the morning, if my recipients didn’t turn off the ringer, they deserve to be woken up!
And then, before he live tweets the convention, Haque writes again.
If you’re a fan, what you’re dying for is more content, you eat it up. Creators should play to their hard core, it’s the only way to blow up, when you appeal to the faceless masses your message falls flat, but if you seed your fans…they just might spread the word.
So, today’s article is entitled:
Yes, Haque does employ this tone. He doesn’t care who he offends, it’s all about the MESSAGE! Everybody’s so busy pussyfooting, afraid of stepping on toes, that their watered-down message has no impact.
So, Haque’s main point is Americans don’t understand authoritarianism, fascism…BECAUSE THEY’VE NEVER EXPERIENCED IT! But, there are untold people on this planet who have, like Haque himself…HOW COME THEY WON’T LISTEN TO THEM!
Haque skewers left wing sacred cows. Like Boy Wonder Chris Hayes. Hayes tells you what you want to hear, makes you feel good, but it makes no difference, because the truth is Hayes is uninformed, he knows nothing about authoritarianism, AND THAT’S WHAT THIS ELECTION IS ALL ABOUT!
This screed is a marketing message. I don’t even care if you agree with me or Umair. I’m talking about how you get your message heard, how it spreads in 2020.
It all comes down to content. You’ve got to create endlessly, improve your chops, to the point where you may touch someone who will do the marketing work for you.
Yet today anybody who wants to rise above starts with marketing, they think that’s the key, when the truth is your only option today, the only way you can make it is via your content.
This is scary, people don’t want to hear it, they’d rather complain that they’re overlooked, broke, not part of the system that would blow them up if they could just get a slot… WRONG!
On the other hand, your message will spread very slowly, no matter how great you are. It’s not like Umair Haque started yesterday, or even in this election cycle, he’s been doing this for YEARS! But now the time is right, now his voice is needed, now his message resonates, now I’m spreading the word.
Forget those young ‘uns… If I get one more song from the child of a reader I’ll puke. They’re TEN, THEY’VE GOT NOTHING TO SAY! We’re so caught up in fame and money that the message has been lost in the process. Maybe you sing well, maybe you can even play…BUT WHAT IS THE MESSAGE!
All day long artists complain they’re not getting paid, it’s everybody’s fault but their own. But the truth is their message is not resonating. Do you expect a brand of potato chips people don’t buy to stay on the shelf? If you’ve got no hard core fans, if the word is not spreading on your work, the problem is YOU! You’ve got to work harder, hone your message, maybe even pivot. But people don’t want to hear that, they’d rather rage at the system…BUT THERE IS NO SYSTEM! That’s been completely broken in the last decade. There are tools you can employ to help you create, to distribute, but that’s about all you’ve got.
America is too somnambulant, too caught up in its exceptionalism to realize it can happen here. It’s not only Covid-19, the rest of the world is scratching its head, how can we be so ignorant as Trump consolidates power right under our noses and steals the next election.
Oh, I know…Trump will win and you’ll cry in your beer. Why not get started now?
The truth is it comes down to message and expression. You can knock on all the doors you want, people won’t vote unless your message is convincing. We’ve got so much useless work in America today…people think if they’re busy it makes a difference, when it does not.
But first know what you’re working for.
Every individual has power. But they’re squandering it, oftentimes in defeat. Concentrate on what’s in front of you, not some distant nirvana that doesn’t even exist. Theoretically you can reach everybody, but the truth is you’re lucky if you can reach anybody. Skill, message, passion…simple concepts, but too often ignored by creators today. But they’re necessary to success, there’s no easy way to the top anymore.