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The closing months of a year are good for many things; sharing the joys and blessings of time spent with family and friends; practicing one’s faithful holidays; listing the personal accomplishments of a year soon to be past; listening to your favorite music from days gone by, reflecting on the natural and not so natural order of things and enjoying a moment of evaluation for the year’s experiences. Some of the most noted successes and failures of communication in 2019, both intended and unintended, come to the forefront of our memories and provide us with humor and profoundly important lessons. While such sharable moments have played out for generations, the arrival of the internet and the accompanying assortment of social media platforms is producing nearly unlimited material for reflection.
The beginning of this new year brought mystery, abstract contemplation and intrigue all via Instagram, the open platform where the masses of humanity can post their favorite images to be shared across and around the world. For those who regularly keep score of reads and shares, the arrival of “The Egg” to the utopia of trivial imagery shocked the whole of the Instagram world when the image’s “Likes” surpassed Kylie Jenner’s previous world record. For nearly a month the image reinforced well-established mantras that a picture can be worth much more than mere words, and silence can often be golden. In early February after receiving more than 52 million likes, the creator of the egg image and the message was revealed. The originator of the World Record Egg was Mental Health America, a non-profit group dedicated to promoting the awareness and needs of those living with mental health issues.
Now sitting way atop the list of most liked Instagram images of all times, the “Egg” enjoys a huge margin of victory over competing images of Earth Week, Jennifer Aniston’s “Friends” co-star photo, a Selena Gomez selfie and Dwayne Johnson’s wedding photo. Bravo! The platform most noted for celebrating the lifestyles of those best known for being famous can project a profound and important social message to the masses of society.
In mid-November, just before the gastronomical king of all holidays, a leading mainstream media outlet treated its viewers to a brief moment of humor and reveal when Representative Eric Swalwell and Chris Matthews (the usually serious commentator of ‘Hardball’) unwittingly produced evidence that there may be truth to the widely held belief that news commentators and politicians often share a common trait of being full of hot air. During the seriousness of the interview one of the messengers appeared to have relieved themselves of some significant gastronomical pressure. The release, most commonly identified as a colossal “fart”, rang out for all the viewing world to hear. The event caused the honorable Representative from California to pause and contemplate his appreciation for the moment, leading many to speculate that he was the source the offense. Viewers quickly took the “splitttzst” video moment to the internet and proceeded to dispel any notion that what was actually said in the interview would be long remembered. The event was just as quickly spun by the media giant to be the result of a coffee cup being dragged across the desk. The spinning of “Fart Gate” may just be another well recognized trait of both professions that has yet to pass the smell test.
Perhaps the most embarrassing marketing faux paus this year is the recent demonstration by the industry giant that brought the world Space X and Tesla. Smartly planned and creatively produced, the reveal of Tesla’s much anticipated electric “Cyber Truck” is an example of how a well-planned event can go terribly wrong right in front of millions of potential consumers. Elon Musk, Tesla founder and CEO, proclaimed the remarkable properties of “Tesla Armor Glass” and proceeded to demonstrate the unbreakable characteristics of the product by having a ball thrown at the vehicle’s windows. The famous visionary and physicist could be heard to say “Oh my it broke!” as the armored glass in the truck shattered.
Not to be out-embarrassed, Elon directed that another ball be thrown against the remaining unbroken window but at a much slower and less offending speed. Again, the glass shattered. There are two lessons to be learned from this fiasco. First; never, ever perform a demonstration in public, and in front of millions of consumers you wish to favorably impress, without first testing the viability of the demonstration in the obscure depths of anonymity. Second lesson; avoid repeating a public act of doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. It’s the universally recognized definition of stupidity. What was the intended message?
The NT News proclaims that it represents the people of the Territory with fair, investigative and quirky journalism. Located down-under in the depths of territorial Australia, the newspaper encourages readers to interact with them across different platforms in a campaign to improve and celebrate the Territory way of life. A headline emblazoned across the front page of an issue earlier this year boldly announced the following: “Man Arrested After Cops Spot Suspiciously Small Package In His Undies.” The NT News confesses to be unconventional, bold, unique and unashamed in an effort to allow readers to escape the daily grind and to be informed while also enjoying the lighter side of life. Okay, given that context, well done! Just wish I could get rid of all these obscene images from my mind’s eye. And by the way: How did an officer of the law come to “spot” the “small” package? Aughhhh!
And how could we possibly leave Twitter out of this discussion? The social networking platform was born in 2006 and has become the world’s most used platform for short message communication. Originally Twitter messages were restricted to just 140 characters that permitted anyone from around the world to receive, in seconds, virtually any comment, about any subject, in any language.
One recent Tweet is an example of how a message can even be “tweeted” in languages that have yet to be recorded by mankind: ”U ever met someboy of twitter than ya meet up and they got da same alphet they had on on they profile pic lol“. Enough said for brevity, clarity, the desire to make a favorable first impression, and the reason why this sender most likely never experienced a second date with the person they met on Twitter. Twitter’s creators were apparently so enthralled with the millions of users’ demonstrated abilities to communicate on the platform that in 2017 the maximum number of permitted characters was doubled to 280. Not that this tweeter needed the expansion. It only took 89 characters, 113 if you count the blank spaces, to butcher any chance of comprehension.
We thank all of this year’s contributors who rose to the occasion to bring all of us a mixture of pride, laughter and tears. The new year will undoubtedly produce a whole new set of communication follies that will entertain and educate us about the importance of forming messages that connect effectively with our intended audiences. Until then @Madd1e88 says, “I’m a force to be record with just watch me shine!” Can someone please tell Madd that her shine just went out?