The Essence of Online Communications
The Washington Post today has a (far too) long piece about Meghan McCain and her blog. The piece is fairly unremarkable in its writing, and the blog, from what I’ve seen is fairly unremarkable with the exception of the angle.
There is, however, one passage that jumped out at me as I was reading.
There’s a genius, too, to Meghan McCain’s style of saying so much without divulging anything truly intimate — a balancing act perfected by her dad on his Straight Talk Express. The more you talk, the more people start to feel as if they know you. The more you talk, the more you minimize the reverberations of any one thing you say.
The disdain the reporter has for McCain (both Meghan and her dad) is barely masked. Lines like the first one above are an example, as is the piece’s title – a take off on Credence Clearwater Revival’s famous song Fortunate Son. Given John McCain’s staunchly pro-war position, it’s obvious the writer is mocking Meghan’s similarity to the child in the song.
Some folks are born made to wave the flag,
Ooh, they’re red, white and blue.
And when the band plays hail to the chief,
Ooh, they point the cannon at you, lord,
It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no senator’s son, son.
It ain’t me, it ain’t me; I ain’t no fortunate one, no,
Ignoring the subtle digs at her and her dad, the reporter did, in that brief passage above, capture one fascinating aspect of the Internet. It’s the piece that most politicians and corporate clients don’t get and it bears repeating.
The more you talk, the more people start to feel as if they know you. The more you talk, the more you minimize the reverberations of any one thing you say.
Communications types who do not spend a lot of time online fail to get this. They assume that every word you say is going to be twisted, distorted, and manipulated. They worry that some random blog post will send stock prices or poll standings plummeting downward.
Yet that statement is the essence of this new era of Internet communications. Allowing people to see you, and to understand you, actually protects you from the random out of context quote. As your comfort with exposure increases, and you open your dialog more and more, you will guard against the misstatement. Your allies will have more ammunition to protect your back and your enemies will have less of a vacuum to fill with an errant remark.
For anyone interested in communications, I would suggest you read the McCain article for two reasons. First, it’s a perfect example of the veiled hostility visited upon anyone Republican by the mainstream media. Second, it does illustrate someone taking the right approach to their online brand – be who you are and accept the fact that not everyone is going to like you.