Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
Published on August 17, 2012 By Draginol In Business

The more well known you are, the less control one has over the narrative. That’s why those who try to “leak” things to the media or try to manipulate the media narrative are playing with fire.  Most situations situations are fairly boring. Boring doesn’t generate page views. As a result, there is a tendency to spice those headlines up.

Brad: The Narrative

To use myself as an example, here are some facts vs. narratives I’ve read.

Issue Narrative Reality
Politics Brad Wardell is a right-wing nut. I’m fiscally conservative, socially liberal. Libertarian generally.
Glenn Beck Brad forced his company to support Glenn Beck against UPS. I’ve never watched Glenn Beck. I strongly object to corporations who try to use their advertising dollars to shut down political discourse. The answer to speech you don’t like is more speech.
Kookiness Brad is a kook I am a kook


The realities are, naturally, far more nuanced than what is presented. 

For example, I support gay marriage, I’m pro-choice, I’m pro-progressive taxation, I live in a net 0 emissions home (solar and geothermal), I drive a Chevy Volt that is powered via my Solar Array, the environment at Stardock is basically a nerd paradise with virtually no turn-over…

…And yet, I’m for small government, generally prefer local control, adamantly oppose attempts by others to force behavior changes (so I’m sympathetic to Chick-fil-A even though I oppose their views), dislike most welfare programs (I grew up poor so I knew plenty of people who were abusing the system), and am a AGW skeptic (even though I own a gold certified green home).

But complexity doesn’t fit narratives. Narratives are designed to build someone up and then tear them down and repeat.  

There’s probably a formula for the amount of page views that would work similar to how voltage works: Page views = Awareness * (Existing Perception – New Perception).  A villain doing something good or a saint doing something bad = dynamite. Would almost make a good game…

People: The Narrative

Sometimes the narrative can become so overwhelming that it’s hard to come back from.  This is something that I think is pretty tragic.  The Daikatana ads “John Romero is going to make you his bitch” was 15 years ago but created such a strong narrative that one can only imagine the impact that had on his career – unfairly I think.

Al Gore had to deal with the “I invented the Internet” which was a very unfair narrative but one that probably (almost certainly) cost him the election in 2000 (it wouldn’t take much). 

These kinds of sound bites are easy to make and difficult to extinguish when they get off into the wild.

What we can do about it

The best thing we can do is try to amplify our own critical thinking. Be aware of the motivations of the media. The people who work there are usually very good people with a lot of integrity. But at the same time, it is a business that lives and dies on page views. Be wary of what you read, particularly the headline part. People are complex creatures, don’t try to pigeon hole someone into a stereo type.

Comments (Page 2)
on Aug 20, 2012

There are always two Sith - an apprentice and a master, but which is which?

on Aug 20, 2012

Leo in WI
"I’m fiscally conservative, socially liberal. Libertarian generally."

I swear this represents me and most of the people I hang with, but damn, I don't think we'll ever see a politician elected to a major office along that line.

I may be wasting my vote but I've grown tired of voting for the "lesser evil" to avoid the greater.  This year I'm voting for who I think is the right guy.


on Aug 21, 2012

This year I'm voting for who I think is the right guy.

Yep, I've gone down that road. Feel much better while voting, certainly doesn't help in the morning. It IS the only way someone from the middle will get elected though, if the middle votes ever start inching higher, more people may actually vote that way. Most now are too worried about as you say "wasting your vote."

Sad, and aggravating.