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Don’t talk unless you can Improve the Silence; don’t be a Penitent Sinner

If nothing else this election is a lesson in the power of media and I am talking about digital media. Here we see Gillian Duffy an ordinary woman making powerful comments to world news with aplomb, at one point she even takes a mobile call while live on TV.

Just in case you have failed to hear Gordon Brown’s comment you can listen to it here.

Clearly social media has seen it’s fair number of Gaffes, David Cameron’s “Too Many Twits Make a Twat” for one and the sacking of Moray candidate Stuart MacLennan after his “coffin dodgers” comment (amongst others). Lets not even venture into Channel 4 Dispatches sting on Hoon et al.

It still hurts 16 years on

Gerald Ratner reveals the pain of becoming a national laughing stock in this Times Online article

Despite the fact that I didn’t kill anybody, I didn’t do anything illegal and I didn’t even say anything that I hadn’t said before, that speech caused me to lose my business, my reputation and my fortune.

It says something about our society that people like to list what I lost in monetary terms: a £650,000 salary, £500m wiped off the valuation of my company, and a billion-pound turnover slashed overnight.

Oliver Sacks made the following observation in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

“The President’s Speech”,[3] about a ward of aphasiacs and agnosiacs listening to a speech given by an unnamed actor-president, “the old Charmer,” presumably Ronald Reagan. Many in the first group were laughing at the speech, and Sacks claims their laughter to be at the president’s facial expressions and tone, which they find “not genuine.”

The point here is that we are all part of these new media and although some of the forms are relatively new our ability to see through them develops with our ability to use it.

This is why I found David Cameron’s running along Exeter Quay video slightly incongruous, where were all the people? Yes I know, busy man, up early, before the rest of us… that’s what we were meant to think. I’m not certain what we were meant to make of a recent shot of Gordon Brown sitting in a kitchen with a yogurt on a dinner plate and a chinese take-away in the background.

There are lessons to me learned here for many and anyone using any form of public media could do to consider the maxim,

Don’t talk unless you can Improve the Silence

Or put it another way:

“If you like, I am a penitent sinner. Sometimes you say things you don’t mean to say, sometimes you say things by mistake and sometimes you say things you want to correct very quickly.”

G Brown

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