What lurks in hiding for us there? Nothing good, and that is the general feeling one gets from the ripples and small currents in the wide ocean of the blogosphere. I’ve been paddling in that ocean since … 2002, when I gave up on Slate as an original aggregator news site shortly after 9-11, because the communities which gathered in the various comments sections just got too angry and irrational for words. Something let me to Instapundit, and through his links to the original incarnation of Sgt. Stryker’s Daily Brief. I became a contributor when the original Stryker appealed for other contributors and have been paddling away at the margins of the digital information ocean ever since. Back in the pre-internet day, I had subscriptions to all kinds of magazines. As a military public relations professional, I reasoned that I should know when and from which direction the next political-military-social sh*t-storm would arrive. Tracking blogs and digital media serves the same purpose for me that print media once did.
I hate silliness – bureaucrats wielding power arbitrarily, ignoring consequences, etc. – ask me about our local Home Owners Association, for instance. But this Instapundit link is to a great, productive, tactful moment when analysis, persuasive writing, an understanding of his audience and human nature wielded the power of a leader, appropriate to such rare skills. Many of you (esp. Dan) have a better appreciation of the common bottleneck but even I can see this “impactful” (an ugly word but so appropriate here) of Peterson’s skill. Of course, why this is a “temporary” fix is another question. And why libertarians have a point about minimal control and why a disproportionately (well, disproportionate to the American tradition) strong state often stifles free enterprise.
Another horrific gaffe in retail marketing – one which falls into the category of “grotesquely bad retail marketing decisions which will become a cautionary lesson in future marketing textbooks.” This spectacular gaffe involves a retailer of fashion-trendy and very colorful women’s athletic clothing, Fabletics – a company which started online in 2013 offering a subscription plan – somewhat controversial since the subscription charges were not always transparent, and branched out into brick and mortar locations. One of the founders is Kate Hudson, daughter of Goldie Hawn, so there probably has been some advantages to a celebrity connection; easy to get that one-on-one with Oprah Winfrey, I presume. The company appears to this point to have been pretty savvy in a competitive field, marketing-wise, so all props to them. I’m not a customer of theirs in any case; the gym and the jogging track are not places where I go to show off my fashion sense. I’m old-school in that I prefer to work out in grey sweatpants and a baggy tee shirt.
…That I am my own independent publisher, with the Tiny Publishing Bidness, and only wasted a couple of months and a lot of postage, in 2007 or so, trying to get an agent interested in my first two novels. Because that was the way to break into traditional publishing; get an agent, who would present your work to the traditional publishing houses. Another book blogger at the time advised trying it for a year, and then going independent, as there were sufficient small companies doing publish-on-demand, some of them for rather reasonable fees. I did have an interested agent in New York, who was referred to me by another milblogger back then, and although the agent reluctantly declined to offer me his services, he was jolly complimentary and encouraging, and provided some good insights. One of the unspoken insights that I took away from this exchange, and drew from all the other letters saying “Thanks, but no thanks” from various literary agencies was that it was all a terribly insular world, the world of the established agencies and big publishers, all of whom seemed to be based in about half a square mile of real estate in New York.
Over recent years, I’ve notice that much political communication…ranging from formal statements by politicians down to off-the-cuff social media posts by individuals..has come to consist mostly of insulting one’s opponents. While there has always been a considerable amount of this, political insult has now become so prevalent as to drive out more rational forms of discourse. And while both/all sides do engage in the kind of behavior I’m discussing, it is much more predominant and extreme on the Left.
From a marketing point of view, this may seem a little odd: why would one want to insult one’s prospective customers–the people one is trying to persuade? I think the answer may be provided by Willi Munzenberg, who was Stalin’s master propagandist. Here’s what Munzenberg told Arthur Koestler, back when Koestler was still a Communist:
Don’t argue with them, Make them stink in the nose of the world. Make people curse and abominate them. Make them shudder with horror. That, Arturo, is propaganda!
And that seems to be the objective, recognized or not, of much of today’s ‘progressive’ speech. People are being intimidated from speaking their minds not only out of fear of practical consequences…loss of customers, loss of jobs…but out of fear of being publicly demonized as a Bad Person.
See Lead and Gold on Mediated Democracy and the Temptations of Leninism.