Hypocrite: : a person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion; a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings
Bias: an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially : a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment
In the era of real time 24x7 politics coupled with social media discussion and commentary, how do we define hypocrisy in behavior and communications. Is it bad, or is it unavoidable for any mature mass communicator?
The issue of bias in commentary for bloggers is easiest to address. Commentary based writing has no reason to avoid bias when it is used as a form of free speech. If and when the reporting transcends some magical line and begins to be viewed as journalism, then different standards would of course apply.
VaTenor is a life biased blog representing the views of one man, and those views have matured and changes significantly over the past 5 years. The original name on this blog was Consistently Inconsistent, and stayed that way until 2007. My approach was to capture my thoughts and hopefully generate commentary and discussion which would inform and hopefully advance both my personal knowledge as well as the readers'. Unfortunately, I learned that most readers don't comment... and those that do, are often volatile, judgemental and sometimes downright despicable in their tone, language and personal attack rhetoric. The idea of creating civil discourse was not practical and ultimately, I changed the name and began simply writing what I think.. no apologies... rarely holding back... This blog has become an online holding pen for ideas and thoughts, often used in other forums from Twitter to Facebook.
This AM, I was criticized and called out for referencing my own writing as though there was something wrong with that action. I reject that premise... but the assertion that I am hypocritical caused some thought and reflection. Perhaps I am hypocritical. I have trouble imagining an honest discussion where 2 parties are actually learning from one another, where hypocrisy couldn't be accurately applied to judge positional jockeying on some level... but the assertion is heavily dependent on the maturity of positions and on knowledge and personal judgement of the speaker. Danger, Danger, Danger...
If I was certain of my ideas and a scholar, then a learning discussion would be likely difficult if not impossible, or would it? When a person changes their mind or position they are not automatically a hypocrite. It is possible to see similar situations and act differently although those actions may be viewed as hypocritical by onlookers.
I maintain that we are all biased based on our background, upbringing, religion, education, etc..
I maintain that we are all hypocritical to some extent, as we must treat every conversation, situation, and decision as unique.
Leadership and Communications expose these "opportunity" areas in visceral public ways. Perhaps the best that a leader and frequent communicator can hope for is adherence to some set of guiding principles.
- Discussion of ideas is different from discussion of person.
- Honesty and transparency can be assessed via disclosure.
- There is nothing wrong with referencing your own work, but care should be taken if it is used in conjunction with other "journalism"
- Relationship is paramount between writer and reader. Accountability for maintaining a "social contract" of sort is the responsibility of both. If that contract is broken, or abandoned, then the communication and growth/change is stopped cold.
- Judging others' intentions is a wasteland of relationship failure.
- Assumptions of a shared context when addressing an emotional event or issue are dangerous. It is wise to ground everyone in a common lexicon, and set clear ground rules and boundaries.
Enough of my brain-dump for the day. Here is hoping that consistently inconsistent diversity and creativity can be recognized and embraced in discourse without so much effort. I'm not even sure what I just said there.. but it will become clearer in coming weeks. and someone will have something to say about it.. of that I'm sure.. whether they say it or not.