Ethical communication: still possible in 2016?

Why, in the world of social media and immediate communications, is important never to forget the power of words.

Source: Ethical communication: still possible in 2016?

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Ethical communication: still possible in 2016?

As predicted by Marshall McLuhan, the Internet gave us the capability to communicate within a worldwide perimeter in a few seconds. This led to what he called “global village“,  a world made smaller and smaller by our constant and immediate communications.

Because of the low-average price of an Internet connection and the easiness of its use, this global village is populated by many different kind of people. There are young, old, boys, girls, professionals, students, spreading within social media to communicate with each other and discuss about any matter existing within the human mind. Most of the times, these exchanges are occasions to create new bonds and groups, where to socialize giving tips and sharing experiences.

Most of the time.

Unfortunately, hidden behind the wall of safety given by the virtuality and the anonymity of their computers, people too scare to express their waste opinions in real life or people simply looking to spread discord (known as “trolls“) are waiting to find their next victim.

They attack using hard, strong and often rude words, spilled through a lexicon portraying their often low culture and intelligence. They write fast, their brain connected to their thumbs as they tap on their phone, and post. Like this, without thinking for a second about the consequences there might be. They don’t care that – if – somewhere out there someone could be crushed by their words.

In our big global village too often we can find examples of this “acting without thinking” attitude. It’s probably something coming from this condition of perennial virtuality we live in, a condition where we don’t have to confront with what we have done on the web.

This attitude is dangerous on two different levels.

One, most extreme, is when we are so unable to reason in an act-conseguence logic that we end up doing in real life something terrible without thinking. Like these two boys shooting a runner because they were bored.  Here I would say that, since we are very very young, something has to be done in our houses and schools to teach to take responsibilities for one’s actions.

More subtle is the second level and that is where we – as social media users – can give our contribute. As we confront with other people on Facebook or Twitter we can act and advance a more ethical communication, starting from the assumption – described by Jeremy Waldron in his The Harm of the Hate Speech  – that words can really hurt.

Sometimes we forget that as we speech we, in fact, act. Through language we address our thoughts physically toward others and, doing so, we modify a preexistent condition and, basically, we change something in the world, even just a little.

Yes, in democratic countries we have the liberty of speech, yes, we can have different opinions. But it is always important to remember that EVERYTHING we say (or do) will have its consequences.

It is important that we calibrate our words as we would calibrate operating a machine because, through them, we can decide what we want to leave of ourselves.

So, if you want to use your words to be an asshole, go ahead. But, please, read them again before posting: there is nothing worse than those commenting their own posts saying “I didn’t mean that!”.

 

 

 

Back to the core

These last few weeks have been quite important in my life, both professionally and privately.

As a story editor, screenwriter and storyteller in training, I started working on myself as a freelance. While public relations, contacts, self marketing and promotion are still in the making process, I am glad to find myself already in the position for practicing a bit. I am currently working as a story editor for a private, a professor willing to write down a film treatment. I am helping him to do so, and he’s paying me for this job. After years and years of studying and training I am happy of this goal.

As I was working with this man I immediately realized why his previous attempts in film writing were unsuccessful: there was a total lack of substance and values in his ideas. As many before him, my employer wanted to put a series of images he developed before a story, a structure and values.

Because most of the time the images we develop aren’t original, but coming from other images we might have seen in the course of our lives, I think is really difficult to work on a excellent project if not starting from the very basic question.

“Why am I telling this story?”

Which immediately leads to the following:

“How is my story going to impact on my audience’s life?”

Seems strange to make this kind of consideration nowadays, when our new technologies make us able to communicate our thoughts so quickly that sometimes we tap quicker than we think. There are so many images, videos, words shared everyday on our social media  that there is no wonder we feel our minds full of suggestions and impressions we want to express.

But, If I learned anything in these years, is that none of these “immediate” communications, none of these images born from fading memories would last. Nor in our mind nor in our audience’s mind.

A couple of weeks ago I learned from Seung Ah Kim, a famous storyteller from Korea, the concept of “Dream Society” as theorized by Rolf Jensen. As the scheme below shows, we are in a transition period, from Information to Dream Society, a world where technology and pragmatism are soon to be replaced by a new desire of values, emotions… what I like to call “The Core” of our lives.

cala_iris_challenge

What powerful stories and communications have in common is an evergreen attention to the core, an aim to find an inner value or theme in the image or anecdote one wants to share.

Once you are communicating (maybe through a story, maybe through a video or an image) just something you think is “likable” or “cool” or “funny”, you are probably not sharing something coming from your core. And that’s why it will reach a less part of your audience.

But if you share something because of the message behind it, because you WANT to communicate THAT something, because you feel like what you want to share is part of you, who you are and how you feel, then is when your message or idea come from the core, then is when you will be heard.

Otherwise, is just the noise of a tree falling in a snow-covered woods.