Back in the early 1990s, I wrote a children’s book entitled: Farmer Lloyd & Grannie’s Big Farm in the Mountains. The last sentence of the book reads, “And everyone lived happily ever after – (all good bedtime stories end that way.)” This blog is NO bedtime story.
Most of us have heard/read way too much about President Bill Clinton’s dalliances with his white house intern, Ms. Monica Lewinsky. It was #MeToo in the incipient stage of the Internet and other forms of social media.
While rifling through HboMax last night, we saw the Monica Lewinsky documentary, “15 minutes of Shame”. We took the click bait. I anticipated an expose’ of America’s more famous President’s sex scandals, including Trump, Clinton, Kennedy et al.
To my surprise, after watching “15 Minutes of Shame”, it appears I was VERY naïve. She documents the lives of individuals who were targets of global public shaming. There are absolutely no happy endings to their life stories. It’s downright sad.
This TV Program is NOT about the gory details of sex or bi-partisan politics. It’s not about the hypocrisies of the religious right or liberal left. It’s not even about the shameful indiscretions of white men in power. 15 Minutes of Shame is a complicated narrative about human being’s long-standing lust for public shaming.
Long before the internet, printing press, or the ink pen … humans have participated in public shaming without facts, context, or an appreciation for nuance. As I kid, I remember Bible stories of angry mobs becoming the “judge and jury”, was it going to be Jesus or Barbados? Samson pulling down the columns on a herd of blood thirsty spectators . Scary stuff.
Mob justice has been around since crucifixions, pillories, floggings, scarlet letters, and tar & feathering. It’s nothing new for the human race, but now we have global “trolling” on an uncensored internet that is fueled by the capitalists’ interests of social media platforms and 24/7 news catering to special interests.
Huston, we have a problem!
We are all subject to getting caught up in group think, herd behavior, and mob justice when we think someone has done something that is shameful, illegal, and/or outside our values set. Ms. Lewinsky’s documentary highlights the global shaming suffered by a US veteran selling stuff out of his garage on Amazon, a lady who quipped online about COVID policy, and a Latino man who was accused of being a white suprematist.
The problem is: we got anonymous virtual mobs acting as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner
Are the people in 15 Minutes of Shame perfect individuals above reproach? No – none of us are. They are humans that got trolled and threatened by millions of people who applied a punishment that did not fit the crime. IMHO. I’m down with “let’s hang a horse thief on the highest tree “,…but “he without sin cast the first stone.”
So, as we often do, we must now ask … “what does this blog have to do with happiness, consulting, or being of service to others?”
Let’s get to work …
CONSULTING 101: OBSERVATIONS, IMPACTS & RECOMMENDATIONS
As consultants or humans just trying to solve a problem, we are called to develop and present observations, impacts of what we see, and our recommendations. The findings must be supported by factual evidence. The impact(s) must be math that articulates the scope/scale of the finding. The recommendations must be wrapped in critical thinking and logical thought.
Consulting ain’t easy and can’t be done with impulsive left or right swipes, pushing “like” buttons, or bullshit click bait embedded in pithy headlines. The goal is not crowd sourcing. It’s also not about a zero-sum game where one sides is winner takes all. Most of the time, we – as consultants - must simply admit, “At this time, we just don’t know. However, with careful data collection and ongoing analysis we should have more information to make better decisions in the future.” To some, that may feel like we are avoiding the truth or being lazy, but in fact, we are simply demanding the facts to support a rigorous change management process.
With that said, the science and art of consulting requires, in my opinion, three very important characteristics:
- FACT-BASED, DATA-DRIVEN ANALYSIS – it’s so important to know the difference between facts and beliefs. Facts are based upon rigorous science with includes disciplined research and peer review over time. Beliefs and gut instincts are just that and have no place in the consulting process.
- ADJUSTMENTS FOR BIAS – Bias is part of the survival skills of humanity. It’s just as real as stereotypes. They evolved over time for obvious reasons, but sometimes they exists for very complicated functions which can be grossly unfair or even destructive.
- BE NICE – Yep … you heard it hear first. Consulting is a profession that relies on being respectful and requires being nice. If you can’t present your F/I/R in a positive manner, then go back to the drawing board. That don’t mean you should candy-coat anything, but you don’t have to be mean.
This might not be the happy ending you were hoping for, but I’m telling you: mob justice delivered by unidentified trolls/robots through the internet is a very dangerous phenomenon for an increasingly connected global community. Yes, we all have our own beliefs/values. Yes, it is easy to find fault with others’ beliefs/values. Piling on is so easy and unfair, the NFL has a rule against it. So, next time you know you are 100% correct, it might be so, except:
As consultants and problem-solvers, we must bring the rigors of our profession to help promote civility as we co-exist together in our world, nation, state, communities, and families.
Tony McLean Brown
A Western NC hillbilly through and through, Tony McLean Brown was born in the small town of Enka-Candler outside of Asheville. His parents re-named him when he was 3 years old to Tony (a nickname provided by his grandfather) McLean (middle name of his Uncle Michael) while retaining his legal surname Brown.
Throughout his career, Tony McLean Brown worked as a farmer, computer programmer, and management consultant – in his adventurous years – author, song-writer, bass player, poet, pilot, mountaineer, certified scuba diver, and competitor in professional bull riding, NASCAR late model racing, Toughman boxing, Crossfit Open, Ironman, pole vaulting, marathon and ultra-marathon running, as well as parenting.
www.HappyGuidetoaShortLife.com has been leveraged to help charities and non-profits across the globe, USA, NC, and Lake Norman area. If you, your family, school, church, or charity has been supported, please take the time to share, like, subscribe, comment, and provide a 5 star review!