Context Is Everything

It’s easy to laugh at the people who thought NPR’s Twitter feed of the Declaration of Independence was about some kind of take down of Donnie 45, but it also shows how much of the thought about matters of national importance float along on a sea of self-interest and quick judgments made on the basis of assumptions on the part of both the sender and the receiver. (Hey, NPR. Don’t assume that everyone knows you are feeding the Declaration of Independence 140 characters at a time.)

Twitter has no context. Reposting of someone else’s post has no context. Even a text from one person to another often lacks context. Anyone involved in mass communications today needs to answer the question, “What are we talking about here?” before they issue one word to whatever audience it is they have.  A good Rule Number One for communication — or anything in life, for that matter —  is never assume anything. Never assume that the Oath Keepers, for example,  know that the thing you are tweeting is the document that led to the document (the Constitution) that they so fervently defend.

Lack of context is why Donnie is President of the United States. He creates his own context, and only a megalomaniac of the highest order can keep this up for years and years because the context he creates is Me. The mass media refute his childish behavior with subject matter experts, and for too many people the context immediately becomes “the mass media is attacking Donnie” because the context is Him. If the mass media answered the question, “What are we talking about here?” with “someone who fits with what people have seen on TV and social media,” then they would stop reporting in any depth on Donnie and simply report: “This is what he did today.”

But there is little money in that. For full context see brilliant Randy Newman song “It’s Money that Matters.” (Added bonus is really great Mark Knopfler guitar riff.)

© 2017 Joseph Galligan

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