Why I Will NEVER (EVER) Use Clickbait

It seems like so much of what I see on social media are boring articles with sexy and misleading headlines. Based on likes and shares that still seems to be a winning formula for some.

While it may seem like I’m judging these folks, the real reason I will never use clickbait to drive traffic to my content is because I will fail and take my already little-known personal brand on a confusing detour without benefit. It’s not that I wouldn’t — it could be a great business case study and create a marketing engine for me — it’s that I’ll kick air hard and the other people I interact with on LinkedIn will know.

I admire the pioneers of self-promotion on the Internet.

I see so many people doing clever things on the internet to promote their brands. Some of it’s great (Neil Patel), some is bad (someone was spared here) but what matters I suppose it that it’s working. It’s not that I wouldn’t go low – it’s that I don’t have the skillset to make money off of it. It’s like a granny who decides to shorten her hemlines — a sorry sight, a pitiable effort and no one wants to see.

I admire all the smart people out there who are finding a way to create a platform online. There are so many different places to speak up: twitter, instagram, Quora, LinkedIn — and more coming down the pike I’m sure. It’s exciting to think about how all of us humans are so open to new forms of communication and connection.

I really like Joe Rogan. He’s about the last person I would think I’d like but thanks to his popularity online I’ve listened to several of his shows on You Tube (I pay to not have ads) and I really like his stuff. Highly recommend hearing his thoughts on plastic surgery “monster face” He is an original thinker with common sense and wit. I can’t imagine Joe Rogan getting traction in the old days of broadcast-style TV & radio. He’s too politically incorrect and unscripted,  a strange amalgam of a UFC commentator, stand up comedian and self-taught philosopher.

I also like Cole Escola. He’s a cross-dressing comedian out of Joe’s Pub in NYC. Check out Serial Killer Documentary Takes Horrible Turn and Mom Commercial for a taste. Like Rogan, Cole is an original who caught fire thanks to the democracy of the webs.

The point here is that while I cringe at seemingly legitimate people/publications using lame semi-clickbait headlines like “Bill Gates’ Surprising Annual Letter” and “The One Quality that ALL Successful People Possess,” I recognize that this is the price of democracy online. In order to get the good stuff, we have to wade through a lot of garbage.

But at least on the internet the good stuff is there. Especially if you pay. I pay for Netflix, YouTube Premium and someone is paying for my HBO GO credentials. That’s not democracy – that’s capitalism. I feel like I’ve watched more high quality programming in the last few years than my entire earlier life of command economy-style broadcast/vhs/DVD.

Of course, the other side of that is the incredible amount of pornography on the Internet. –The world simply doesn’t need more porn being made or new channels for its distribution. But, this is the other side of user-supported content (through ads or subscription) on the webs. This is what Plato warned us about. The tyranny of the masses. And it’s not just pornography. It’s the Kardashians, it’s Instagram models at large, it’s the Clinton News Network and FAUX News. All of these garbage-peddling Charlatans know how to command an audience and to evolve quickly in a changing digital landscape.

So, while I’m terrible at getting eyeballs on my writing, I commend those who are able to attract and sustain an audience. It’s SOMETHING. I tip my hat. (I seldom where a hat)

Just as clicks were replaced with impressions and many content creators are shifting towards subscriptions, there will be a continued evolution in how content is supported and selected. These will be the forces driven by taste and money, as well as the legacy-type powers that be (The 2019 Grammy’s brought to you by the Kardashians? Travis Scott’s (live?) voice was so synthesized he sounded like a robot??).

So for now, I salute all the innovators in this online land grab. For those like me, who just enjoy the ability to self-publish and the benefits of social pressure to maintain this discipline, I commend you, too. Hopefully, overtime, we’ll see more unlikely stars like Joe Rogan and Cole Escola through the digital collective and it will become easier and easier to skip past the garbage.  

In Praise of Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a problem you can ignore while it kills you. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas. Improperly ventilated areas and heavily censored discussions/willful ignorance may allow carbon monoxide to accumulate to dangerous levels.

The nice part is that side effects include confusion, weakness, blurred vision, headaches, nausea & loss of consciousness. So, if you don’t want to deal with the carbon monoxide leak, or any other problem in your business, all of these debilitating symptoms may help you avoid any ugly issue you are faced with.

Carbon Monoxide is the problem and the solution. It’s the beginning of the End.

Carbon monoxide detectors are easy to install and relatively affordable. But they are annoying. They start going off out of nowhere and about what? They are especially irritating when the leak might be expensive to fix and everyone is kind of buzzing and feeling ill at the same time. If someone does start squeaking about the air quality, they become the problem. Oftentimes, it’s not good to be a carbon monoxide detector.

Unlike electrocution or a heart attack, carbon monoxide poisoning weakens and sedates you so that the end is a gentle snuffing out – not a scary sudden jolt. When the end is near, it’s very likely a poison victim won’t know what’s killing their business.  Is it our advertising? Is it product design? Is it our HR strategy? This (faux) unknowing (they know what’s wrong but it’s HARD or EXPENSIVE to fix) may lead to some desperate dying jabs at familiar scapegoats. Final throes if you will…

A happy survivor of carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you realize that you have carbon monoxide poisoning, and you want to stop it, the Mayo Clinic recommends you go outside and get some fresh air and then immediately seek medical care.

Fresh. Air. If you don’t know what is killing your business get some Fresh Air.

Millennials are like their Grandparents.

It seems like a lot of people think Millennials are garbage.

I’m surprised how often I hear people I basically respect go on and on about how “entitled” “narcissistic” and addicted to social media this generation is. I have an alternative view. [disclosure: I am technically an elder Millennial]

Several years ago, I stumbled across Strauss & Howe’s theory of generational turnings which states that each generation is a response to the one before. They actually map out each “Turning” back to the War of the Roses to present. I totally buy into this schema.

Strauss & Howe have helped shape how we understand ourselves by age cohort. These two actually coined the terms “Baby Boomer,” “Gen X” and “Millennial” though their ultra-prescient work seems to be basically outside the zeitgeist these days. According to them, Millennials are poised to help save the world from itself thanks to their concern for each other, conformist nature and confident optimism. Not exactly what you hear around the water-cooler…

The Next “Great Generation”?

The gist of their Generational Turning theory is that there are four types of generation archetypes: Hero, Artist, Prophet and Nomad. Under this theory, Millennials, like their grandparents, are a “Hero Generation” which historically has meant that they are community-oriented and are likely to advance new technologies and industries. There have been three American Hero generations, including that of the the founding fathers and the GI Generation.

The Rise

Each four Turning cycle, or saecula as Strauss and Howe calls them, is an 80-90 year period which begins with a “High” that comes out of “Crisis” like the post-WWII Era Baby Boom and burst in new industry and innovation. This in turn leads to an “Awakening” where societal norms are challenged in favor of the individual rights and spiritual autonomy as reflected in the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement and the emergence of “Free Love” ideals. Think of being a young person coming of age in the 1950’s in the U.S. as the “Great Generation” quickly sought to rebuild a society nearly destroyed by Hitler. Unlike their GI parents, teenage Baby Boomers could easily take their security and prosperity for granted and seek “more” from life – more meaning, more purpose, more connection, more progress and more art. The Turnings are a natural ebb and flow of human call and response type behavior.

The Fall

After an “Awakening”, we have an “Unraveling.” Since societal institutions have been challenged and weakened in the generation prior, this era is characterized by individualism and a lack of idealism. Think of the go go culture of the 80’s with Gordon Gecko-types in Wall Street and the Brat Pack in Hollywood, as well as the beginnings of MTV, the pre-cursor to today’s ubiquitous and vapid reality TV. Meanwhile, self-serving in-group first mentalities were a perfect breeding ground for the ensuing 1980’s “Culture Wars” that would shape a highly-polarized political discourse for decades to come.

A New Saecula begins withMillennials Rising in “Crisis”

Finally, we arrive in our current “Crisis” era (a new saecula has begun!) which Strauss and Howe date roughly from 2008 to 2026. Just as that of the Great Generation, this final type of Turning is an era of destruction. The last one started with the 1929 Market Crash and culminated with the all out global conflict of WWII. Our present one in began with the 9/11 Twin Tower attacks which began our ongoing new Always At War Era and hit a fever pitch of uncertainty and calamity with the 2008 Financial Crisis. Based on the Turnings theory, we have another decade ahead of increasing threat before our society will be saved…or not. Now, back to Millennials…

How are Millennials like the Great Generation?

  • They hate credit cards
  • They have experienced intense threats to social order and the erosion of key institutions such as religions, universities and political ideologies.
  • They aren’t particularly rebellious? Millennials like influencers not revolutionaries. They are more likely to go to Fyre Festival than Woodstock. To better understand how conventional and uncreative this generation is, please check out this 2011 Report published by the U.S. War College entitled “UNDERSTANDING MILLENNIALS TO IMPROVE RECRUITING EFFICIENCY” This report heavily references Strauss and Howe, as well.
  • Millennials like consensus, cohesion and collective advance hence they (insert heart icon) social media “Pew Study: Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change”

The bottom line here is that the dominant dialectic around Millennials as spoiled children is tired and anecdotal. It is a symptom of what I call the “get off my lawn” perspective of an older person who is romanticizing their generation’s early days and likely their own past. The most concerning issue is that the condemnation of Millennials inhibits the ability and imagination of older age cohorts to best work with this rising generation and their unique mindset and potential.

Condemning a group as incapable or entitled engenders a comforting narrative for those who can’t incorporate or engage the said group. It’s a whining excuse that is still working for companies that can’t retain Millennial employees, homebuilders who can’t sell their poorly designed McMansions and cable companies that are already hemorrhaging losses due to young “cordcutters.”

By marginalizing Millennials, these older naysayers are actually adopting a short-sighted strategy for dealing with the largest generation in history. One that is set to implode in just a few start years as Millennials begin to form households (many are delaying this) and shape the worklife they want.This new way of living poses major risks to their elders.

For instance, if Millennials continue to prefer small dwellings in urban areas, what will happen to all the Baby Boomers who have their retirement locked up in their suburban mansion that suddenly no one wants to buy? What about retiring professionals (doctors, lawyers, accountants) who want to sell their book of business to someone young but no buyers are willing to work the 100 hours a week necessary to realize justify the sale price they want (based on revenue projections/multiples)?

American religious institutions await a brutal reckoning with more than a third of Millennials identifying as a “non” which is to say they don’t identify with any religion at all. Religious leaders would be wise to remember the Prayer of St. Francis (a radical himself) which says to seek first to understand than to be understood. Though, if history is any indication, a listening stance among old-guard religious leaders seems highly unlikely. Same with political parties handing a significant percent of Millennial voters over to “What is Aleppo?” Gary Johnson “WashPo: Could Donald Trump lose the millennial vote to Gary Johnson?” (I voted for him myself and no longer publicly discuss politics with any smugness).

In sum, Millennials are actively carving out their own ideals and their own ways of living, working and loving. As the largest age cohort in history they (we) will reshape the world and they (we) be should mentored and encouraged in order to achieve the best outcome.

Endlessly complaining about Millennials isn’t productive but it may have the positive effective of making younger people care that much less about what older people them of them. As Katherine Hepburn put it: “I don’t care what they think about me, I never think about them.”

You can read more of my stuff at maurna.com

Morning brings back the heroic ages.

“Every morning was a cheerful invitation to make my life of equal simplicity, and I may say innocence, with Nature herself. I have been as sincere a worshipper of Aurora  as the Greeks. I got up early and bathed in the pond; that was a religious exercise, and one of the best things which I did. They say that characters were engraven on the bathing tub of King Tching Thang to this effect: “Renew thyself completely each day; do it again, and again, and forever again.” I can understand that. Morning brings back the heroic ages.”

Read more http://thoreau.eserver.org/walden02.html

So I’m probably going to except this 3rd

So I’m probably going to except this 3rd offer I’ve received for someone’s old IPhone. It was generous each time and I appreciate the two would-be givers and, Libby, the actual gifter.

I guess you could say I learned a few things during this time. One is that it’s easier to have no phone than a glorified walkie-talkie. People seem to be able to accept an extreme level of dysfunction more than the inability to text fast or accept most messages. 

I feel some sadness as this experiment ends. Not because I will miss my flip phone but because I feel like so few people understand why I value being disconnected. My desire to unplug is sadly written off as I don’t even know what. I try to not to imagine how people interpret my actions unless it serves some purpose. 

I guess I can leave my new IPhone at home sometimes or maybe let it die more often than I should. It won’t be the same as when checking my phone 

COMPUTER WORLD: “The Smartphone Utopia Trap”

COMPUTER WORLD: “The Smartphone Utopia Trap”

I saw this article on G+ about how people are constantly buzzing about the “next” smartphone and are so excited when they get a new one. (Like how I feel about my flip!) 

The author talks about how cuckoo this is and then explains that he switched to a $600 a year PREPAID PLAN LIKE ME. Except mine is $360. Yes I’m sure he has a decent device and data but even still — a consumer tech writer is doing the same thing as me.