Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Blog 009 - careful what you say, or at least how you say it

This week I have been going to selected discussion panels at the Woods Hole Film Festival here in my little town on Cape Cod. It’s been a lot of fun, and another example of how cool it is to live where I do.

Woods Hole is an interesting place where world-renowned scientists do Nobel Prize winning research at the Marine Biological Laboratories and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. The Film Festival is held every year in some of the old, historic buildings of Woods Hole. Woods Hole (part of my town of Falmouth) is a postcard-perfect New England coastal town with stunning views across Vineyard Sound toward Martha’s Vineyard. Martha’s Vineyard is where they made the movie JAWS.

People who are passionate about making films come here from all over the world to show their movies and to talk, excitedly, about their “next projects.” The very coolest part of the whole deal is that I live close enough that I can ride my bicycle to the festival on a bike path with no cars!

Anyway, today I was at my third discussion panel. There were only about ten or twelve people attending the panel. The moderator had us sit in a circle and have an open discussion. The discussion was about media literacy and how to interpret the new media and the role of the Internet in spreading ideas around the world. There were old guys, like me, and some young kids (eighteen years old and going to start film school in the fall).

I spoke more than I should have and shared some of my views on how I see the internet, podcasting, blogging, and video blogging evolving. At one point one of the young, refreshingly idealistic kids spoke about how the conference had really opened his eyes to the possibilities of using the Internet to find an audience for his future films. He was genuinely excited and optimistic about his future as a filmmaker.

Evidently, my responses to his comments were received by the group, and the young man, as harsh, cynical, and frustrated – basically too negative, too bitter. He had expressed his enthusiasm for the power of the Internet to spread his message. I had responded by saying that it could indeed, but the stories that had been shared by others during previous discussion panels were probably exaggerated, and that he would still need to expend a great deal of effort in marketing his films beyond simply posting a few clips on YouTube.

I also expressed my concern that as the “new media” gains a larger audience the business leaders of the “old-media” will be waiting to move in and capitalize on this new source of revenue – and they will have the money and the power to do it much more effectively than a guy like me. I argued that the romantic ideal of a level playing field where every individual can share the stage with media superpowers is probably destined to become little more than fantasy.

Okay, I was, without intending to be, a bitter, frustrated old man throwing cold water on the newfound passion of a young kid who’d found what he wanted to do with his life.

Shame on me!

But, the stories that others had told (in previous conferences) about posting clips of their movies and having “half-a-million downloads in one weekend” were equally destructive, in my mind, because they are stories that probably weren’t true or were misleading. My thinking was that the kid should be encouraged, but not led to believe that the Internet was going to make him famous overnight.

The bottom line, I think, is that my intention was good, but my delivery sucked!

I continue to run head on into the reality that words matter, and what we say to other people can be powerfully uplifting, or terribly defeating.

Hopefully, this kid will grow up to be the next superstar movie director and be able to tell his own kids how lucky it is that he didn’t listen to the angry old man at the Woods Hole Film Festival.

Be careful what you say – someone might be listening.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Monte Ladner


Nigel, Staffordshire said...


I'm sure you were acting with the best of intentions by trying to set realistic intentions for this guy.

I've read a bit about NLP and heard some podcasts about the subject.

It emphasizes the use of language in terms of the type of language that we use and the patterns that we use.

It also has a number of pre-suppositions at its foundation, such as: "People always make the best choices available to them, given their unique model of the world and of the situation" - i.e. your reaction in trying to temper this guy's expectations given your experiences.

I think its a fascinating area that I've often thought could serve to get messages across more effectively in communication (e.g. healthy messages in podcasts).

But having said all of that, I guess the main thing is that you are taking part in the debate and sharing your experience to help others.


J. said...

NLP is a pseudo-science. The two founders I believe are still currently suing each other. They have made outragous claims in the past such as the ability to cure aids. Steve Hassan, an anti-cult advocate, has voiced his concern for potential abuse using NLP for coercion, manipulation, etc..

What the internet can offer is a source of citizen funding. Max Keiser of the apocalyptic finacial podcast "KarmaBanque" came up with a company called Kanooga (it flopped) for people to buy in shares (selling price of the download) in film projects. In return you would get a dividend based on the number of shares if the sales took off. The problem was that he didn't put any of his own money in visibly at the site so of course people took this as a lack of faith in his own product and wouldn't invest.

Zenartist said...

I find myself fascinated with the mystique around how something is said, rather than the meaning and content of the message.

Monte I think your heart was in the right place. You treated this fellow as an equal. It is good to temper one mouth, (tho I have never been good at it) but it is better to speak your truth and become adept at clarifying your position.

You have the invaluable standpoint of years and experience and who knows maybe this young individual you spoke to could be one of the instigators in changing the system based upon what you said. "Negativity" has value too, and the truth in ones vision contains the most power. As far as I am concerned, Thank you for not diluting your content. Z

Relevate said...

Its true that care needs to be taken in communicating ideas. There is a lot involved from the higher cultural level right down to the atomic/linguistic meanings of individual words. Logic and of course content is key.

You can only really go with what you know, plan as well as possible, and adapt as you go (if its a 2 way communication)

NLP is definitely pseudoscience and you'd do well to avoid it. Its so full of crap and misdirection, and its designed that way so as to promote mild disappointment, and repeat buy. Basically its a cult that spreads new age misconception for the purpose of lining the pockets of charlatans. Its got all the major flops and pitfalls, from eye accessing mumbo jumbo, to mimicking people to make you feel as if you are a jedi knight of persuasion, to casting magical circles to banish negadividy.

If you want a good model for communication, stick with a solid evidence based book on social psychology. This one is an interesting read:

Don't buy it though, you can find a lot of similar quality and reliability from your local library.