In my 28 year career in advertising I spent a short period at Network Ten . After leaving the network I was trolled mercilessly by the anonymous. This didn’t last days but weeks. (It still does now) . As someone who suffers from depression my suicidal ideation increased dramatically. Not for days but months. As someone who suffers bi-polar 2 the effect of this trolling was devastating. I then re surfaced at Innocean after which of course every press note about me referenced my short tenure Ten. I was interviewed about the new role and asked for an innocent opinion on the state of FTA tv. I said that 9&7 would move away from Ten and that Ten was in a difficult position. The trolling re commenced with some media buyers commenting not even their most junior buyers would proffer such an analysis. Ten shares of course halved, then they were split before going into admin, after running into headwinds with debt head room and banking covenants. Before you press send on your opinion which you’re entitled to ask this, – could a perfectly good person end up hanging from the back of their bathroom door only to be found by their cleaner who comes in each Wednesday, or better still by their only daughter who arrives every other weekend?” ….. Send
A female executive sobbed her guts out in front of me and twenty others in a pitch review meeting late one night, after she received a torrent of cold blade criticism from me . My reply as she had tears streaming down her face was bluntly “I could give a fuck about you or your tears, I’ve had women cry in front of me for years.”
This behaviour is not normal or healthy. As head of strategy in multinational agencies people could be forgiven for thinking I wanted to be known as the smartest guy in the room. I had little desire at all for that, I wanted to be the hardest guy in the room. Everyone is smart, but I made it a point of being utterly rock hard and impervious.
That is a maladaptive state created by non nurturing behaviour when I being raised, endogenetic depression and work cultures built on one metric “did you win?” The wounded adaptive adult then adopts a state, many times this state is called “better than” mode. It separates and protects a person from themselves first and others second.
I have and continue to apologise to some of my former colleagues, as I have reflected on the utter brutality of interactions with me. Compassion is not weak nor empathy. We need both for those so wounded they are better than mode just as we need compassion for those who feel “less than” at work .
“SSSHHHHHH CAN YOU KEEP A SECRET? PRIVACY IS THE NEW LUXURY” There was a point in human history where only the very few and elite had a “public life”. Positions of either government or some sort of celebrity and authority. Merit normally brought fame, until that changed and celebrity brought fame, and with it fame became more potent and popular.
Politicians, rulers, generals, popes and captains of industry were famous and wealthy, but the fame we assigned to movie and sport stars was far more attractive to the mainstream population.
In fact it is said that soldiers in the second world war knew the currency of fame. American soldiers apparently would yell out “Fuck Hirohito!” and the Japanese military would yell out “Fuck Babe Ruth!”.
Such was the changing value of fame. Step changes in technology have always brought fame closer to ubiquity. Silent movies, to “movies” to TV, with each tech revolution fame grew in size and addictiveness. The relationship between fame and technology is a binary one. In fact who serves who in that relationship almost gets very chicken and egg like. Suffice to say they both serve each other equally. Zuckerberg is an easy and obvious example.
Reputation has always been carefully curated by those in the public eye but maybe they didn’t use that word. At best “management” or PR or good old fashioned propaganda. But now its a little more complex. Being in the public eye always brought with it “un-curated” or “uncontrolled” attention.
Pesky journalists, whistleblowers and the like discovering secrets and leaking information that others would rather leave in the dark as it may have a deleterious effect on “image and reputation” of the famous person in question. All pretty ho hum. This saw the rise of the manager, pr exec, press flack and image consultant carefully trying, sometimes in vain to “control” the message and image of their client.
Professional advice sometimes well worth the vast sums of money paid to such people. However the Facebook generation received by enlarge no such professional advice.
In the future we may divide our lives up into pre Facebook and post Facebook. Re Identity – i.e. people re creating a new or modified identity may well come become common practice, as a consequence of social media faux pars. We have willingly made public what in former decades was truly private and in so doing have made our private lives subject to the scrutiny and judgment of the public. For better and worse.
The Black Light Principle is something you don’t know about something you know.
It is said we live in an age of transparency. To some extent that is true. However, we also live in a complex time full of layers and petabytes of data. We have more data than ever in our human history. I would suggest the world is more opaque and less clear as a result. Humans like clarity, it provides certainty.
Never before has a generation had the capacity to “know” so much. Before the internet we spent much time simply gathering knowledge. Now gathering information, data and knowledge is done at light speed. So our time is now more valuable finding utility in that information.
What generally hides in data? Opportunity … but only if you can see it.
Add this to this, notions such as “fake news” and this takes us one step further removed from the “truth”. This creates a conundrum. We are programmed to seek knowledge and value truth, but feel gullible or ignorant when it is hidden or changed.
More than ever we need to be able to see, feel, hear, know something that is hidden, or not clear. Something that is not obvious, and is hiding in plain sight.
Humans are masters of deceit and use distraction to keep each other off point, e.g the practice of magic. So in an age of so-called transparency, but not an age of accountability, what do we do?
What should our mind set be? What techniques can we use to see the hidden, the opaque, or the fake ? Every one values the original more.
1. A Black Light Future ; What future and near point horizons will this lead us to? The new age of public, private and secret lives. Technology already exists that helps us “snoop” on partners texts and whereabouts.
What becomes an authentic experience in the age of virtual reality and artificial intelligence? Will our need for real be diminished as real becomes redefined. We never got our jet packs and the soothsayers of the future got much wrong, but I’m pretty certain that those who are discussing the concept of year million and metaverse 1.0 and 2.0 are onto something, that science fiction films have been exploring for over a decade.
A black light is needed, one that can look at I, you and we. A black light that can reveal the hidden in the now and the future.
The politically correct language and lexicon, that is now sewn into social media, politics, commerce and sport, has made communication problematic. I don’t want to trigger anyone here, but it has. Language has now become camouflaged not just in its’ meaning, but its’ form and the channels by which it is carried. Do we need to Black light communication?.
2. Black Light Work ; Communication has already has provided hurdles for comprehension and expectations at work. The human element in the new “workscape”, complete with the concept of “Singularity” and its’ foreboding consequences is another future that requires clarity.
In an age of transparency how do you get yourself bought? You might be trying to sell your company, but are they buying you? Society and commerce likes winners, but in the day and age of now and our future, how will that change and can companies actually see the road ahead to success? Is there something they don’t know about what they know and is it hidden?
3. Black Light Mental Wellness ; 1:4 to 1:5 of you staff are suffering a poor mental health condition right now. Do you know who they are, or have they hidden themselves among your achievers, rainmakers and team players? Humans are not good with power and honesty. There is much hidden anger, which creates work place depression. Flame mail, bullying covert and silent isolation is all glossed over and good relations are faked in many work places, which contributes to poor mental wellness. There is a modern day depression that is having a direct financial impact on companies. Worldwide, the World Health Organisation estimates nearly a trillion dollars is lost each year in poor productivity. Think tiredness and forgetfulness at an epic scale. Rates of depression have increased 20% in the last ten years.
4. Black Light brands; Are there consumers using your brands that you don’t know about? Are they buying for true loyalty or just habit? As we are at point of click consumption, the convenience of a click maybe all that matters. However, is your brand a noun, a verb or a purpose? Because that still matters. We live in the Arithmocracy where those with the numbers command the power. Life by algorithm began long before we realised it, and the integration of separate technology platforms at scale around 2007 ushered in the infotronics era.
Much to consider. Some of it deeply troubling. But if a threat, a feeling, an insight, a behavior, an argument or more importantly an advantage could be revealed and not hidden from plain sight, then that may provide a material change in the fortunes of those who can see it… with a Black Light.