“Do not buy Brazilian products and you save the Amazon”.
Phrases like these that fit in a 280-character tweet reach up to 2 million in less than a day; if we count the reactions and the re-twitters, the number multiplies. The confronted consumer, in doubt, will stop buying if they have a better option in price and storytelling.
Following in recent weeks the story of the “smoking forests” and the systematic follow-up on digital media, we have recorded negative comments jumping from 170 million to 700 million in just a few weeks. Some fashion brands have suspended their purchases of Brazilian raw materials, publishing their decision to their public, hoping to increase their popularity and sympathy with these groups, simply because they do not want to associate their product with a contaminating theme.
At the same time, consumers in the same country go viral on the world’s largest auto show, associating the car as a polluting medium and focusing on SUVs as a destroyer of our planet, calling for a boycott of this kind of vehicle.
Not far away, on Fridays, students protest, taking the streets encouraged by a highly communicative girl from Sweden, encouraging them to stop studying and worrying about the future of the planet … we are taking better care of our future… Thousands of followers around the world will replace their studies, work, and affairs with a mega protest in favor of Climate Change topics.
In 280 characters, they position the “leads” followed by videos, photos that speak more than many words, and a storytelling that reinforces a growing opinion. Perception becomes reality. The groups that form it receive as an additional “gift” for Artificial Intelligence acting, the permanent confirmations from other similar sources, reinforcing the perception as the truest of the news, showing that millions follow it, and therefore legitimizing the “truth”.
Intolerant behavior toward the controversial and antagonistic reach higher levels, increasing the radicalization of right and wrong. Polarization and stridency are becoming increasingly frequent in our current democracies. Although the digital ecosystem has low empathy, while giving us immense freedom, it polarizes us more and more. Cultural confrontation is increasingly taking place in the micro and macro environment. I believe that if Samuel Huntington rewrote his work “The Clash of Civilization” he would set aside the question of cultural values to describe the “values of the new tribes” and the savage form of defending these ideas.
There are no borders, no limitations for the 280 characters not reaching us and causing a huge risk to the reputation of products, services, actions, individuals, groups and countries. The immediate consequence is the breakdown of reputation.
It means a loss of real value from trust in the product, in the company, in the country.
An example is the Austrian Congress, recommending the non-acceptance of the Mercosur-European Union Treaty, based on the “absolute truths” of forest burning.
The mindset for dialogue is being blocked systematically and at gigantic speeds. We actually created a Blockmind* making a right or wrong perception an absolute truth, determining our decisions. The irony is that the creator of Blockchain has given us a tool to increase our intercommunication security and we, on the other hand, deliberately let the truth-value be taken from us by perceptions without tolerance for the contradictory.
To fight Blockmind* we need to speak more to each other and less about each other. The time for debate, the time for dealing with confronting realities, for understanding a difference in perception, means living with uncomfortable ambiguities that reflect our real life. Moreover, in our own family life we know that the intermittent use of the cell phone causes the distance from those present.
Bring those far away closer and push away those who are near
While Blockmind* destroys reputations by increasing uncertainty and volatility, we need new communication and management strategies to defend and regain trust. Regaining trust is not only by image campaigns, which only help to stop the immediate aspects, but also by regaining trust means exposing the ambiguity of the facts, having the desire to know reality, opening oneself to others, debating with respect for others, opinions of others, and permanently seeking dialogue.
Talk more to others and not about others!
*) Blockmind is a term coined by this writer to explain the systematic blocking of the new mindset.
Ingo Plöger, entrepreneur, Brazilian, President CEAL – Brazilian Chapter