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Thursday, August 6, 2009

Blurring the Line

As a professional blogger, I lead an interesting life.

No, not quite that interesting.

What I mean is that the line between my personal life and my professional life is blurring. And, in many ways, it's blurring for all of us as our information becomes more and more accessible to the Whole Wide World.


Blurring the Line

That's why I thought twice about writing my latest personal post ...and then went ahead and did it anyway. While I always try to be fair, I'm a little more "contained" on this blog.

So why am I writing about this over here on my blog about Sonlight and homeschooling?

Because one of my jobs here at Sonlight is to be a "Media Relations Specialist" and keep tabs on the crazy world of social media. And that means watch what people say about Sonlight on their blogs and help customers or give more information where possible.

Much like what I think--and hope--Macon Phillips meant in his post. And, in many ways, I totally understand the desire to "keep track of all [rumors]" because I'd like to do the same thing. It's very important to help people know the truth if they somehow have the wrong idea.

But Phillips' word choice was poor.

He wants citizens to email in "fishy" sites to an address that "flags" it for the Whitehouse? For what purpose? To what end?

If Phillips would have elaborated more on what's going to happen, I think it wouldn't be nearly as disturbing. But since he did not elaborate, and we're already heard some pretty scary things from fishy sites, he didn't help us feel better.

Also, since I get paid for what I do here at Sonlight, I am interested in how much tax money is going into this initiative. I think, much like my position, this is probably fairly important if done correctly. So, in the spirit of giving, here's what I do:

  1. I ask people to tell me about things that they think I'd be interested to know.
  2. If someone has misinformation about Sonlight, I try to inform them graciously.
  3. If someone has a complaint against Sonlight, I do everything I can to make the situation right.
  4. I have alerts that let me know when people talk about Sonlight on their blogs so I can add them to my reader and get to know them and where they're coming from.
  5. I try to focus on the positives. Because I can say whatever I want about Sonlight, but it's the people who have actually experienced it that have the most credibility.
  6. I leave comments open so people can talk to me if they want.

Granted, my position at Sonlight is probably significantly smaller--and of less mass appeal--than one of the hottest topics in the political world right now. But if you're opening yourself up to a barrage of emails, I hope you've got a system in place to handle them.

I know I do:


Just Kidding <smile>

 ~Luke Holzmann
Media Relations Specialist

13 comments:

mareserinitatis said...

What you're attempting to do is dispel information, although you realize that you can't force others to change their mind. I have to ask, though, why you assume that the people trying to explain how their concept of nationalized health care have motives that are really any different than yours. It seems like you may disagree with their stance and therefore assume they are doing something malicious. Is there any reason they shouldn't have the opportunity to respond to people who are mischaracterizing or altogether lying about the implications? People who are doing such things are, consciously or not, misinforming people, and they certainly can't make a good decision if all they hear is one side of the story (which you already know since you try to correct misinformation yourself).

mareserinitatis said...

I should have said dispel misinformation. Sorry about that.

Mrs. C said...

This was a plain old attempt at controlling what propoganda is out there, and it backfired. This time.

Totally different than being a PR man for a product I can buy or leave on the shelf. :]

Mareserinitatis, I don't see where "the people" get to make any sort of decision at all on the health care vote at all. Was there a "NO, NEVER, not on my tax dime, and I don't care if Hell is frozen and old ladies are eating dog food so they can pay for their Viagra" box somewhere I missed?

Because I'd have checked it.

Mrs. C said...

I deliberately spread some medical misinformation in that last comment there. That was fun!

:P

Ken said...

You have some interesting and understandable constraints on how you blog here. It must be a little frustrating to take a conciliatory tone when dealing with particularly intransigent commentators on your own blog, especially when they are not logically consistent nor hold to a worldview you find to particularly moral. I can see how it would be difficult to find a balance between what might offend parties on different sides of an issue (or even more difficult--not offending your own moral sensibilities and obligations be God), all the while, trying to meet Sonlight business needs at the same time.

Luke said...

Cherish, I'm totally with you: They should have the chance to dispel misinformation (that's why I said: "I totally understand the desire to "keep track of all [rumors]" because I'd like to do the same thing. It's very important to help people know the truth if they somehow have the wrong idea").

The point of this post was that the word choice was, at best, poor. My discomfort with the post was due to some very unfortunate--and yet to be shown to be inaccurate--phrases and ideas that made this initiative sound much more malicious... plus, the silence and lack of communication--such as open comments--make it much harder to get at the truth... the very thing the post claimed to have wanted.

So: I think this is potentially a great idea. I just strongly doubt it was well thought out if the post--and what has happened because of it thus far--is any indication.


Mrs. C, you crack me up <smile>.

Ken, I'm not too frustrated most times (and, I'll admit to using my online dictionary for two of those words... haven't read a sentence like that since college <laughing>). Though, I do often wish that I could just meet face to face and chat... because it's really hard to communicate effectively without giving people of such a wide range the wrong ideas.

~Luke

mareserinitatis said...

Agreed. Word choice was definitely poor. On the other hand, while you can do things like set google to key into words like "Sonlight", you don't have to wade through nearly as much as someone trying to track down misinformation on the health care plan. There is a difference, probably orders of magnitude, on the amount of information (and misinformation) being put out there.

Unfortunately, I am pretty appalled at how people are discussing it who obviously have no clue what the actual plan says. The other thing I find frustrating is that most people are opposed to it because 1) it's Obama, 2) they think they are going to get handed a health care plan they don't want, 3) like to compare it to Canada's and yet have no clue how Canada's operates, or 4) are in a nice cushy position where they can afford health care and are more worried about how this will affect their doctor's income, ignoring the fact that while they are driving a BMW and own a house that has a market value of $1mil, people's children can't hear because they don't have enough money to afford a very simple corrective operation that someone with insurance could easily get. The combination of ignorance and selfishness I've seen in discussion about the health care issue is completely absurd.

It appalls me even more that Christians seem to be more concerned about their pocketbooks than caring for the poor and sick. I'm pretty sure Jesus said something about that once...maybe twice.

/vent

But you knew how I felt already. :-)

Have a nice weekend.

Mrs. C said...

Dang. I thought the healthcare was, simply, not the purview of the government like... oh, I don't know, minting money and protecting us from foreign invaders and stuff like that. And here, I find out that not only is healthcare a necessary government function, but that Christians against the idea must be motivated purely by selfish motives when they say they don't want it. News to me!!

Our family of eight paid $11 in federal taxes last year. $11. Maybe I SEEM like I'm looking at my BMWs and million dollar houses because I have a fancy-looking blog template with three different colours, but I can assure you that I am not hobnobbing with the rich and famous and getting an 88J boob job and a liposuction and saying things like, "Let the poor eat $4 generic antibiotics" at palace parties. :p

Hey, FWIW I also have three (3) autistic children who may never "make it" in this world on their own. I don't have a thin dime for therapies. I know what it's like to need and not HAVE.

That doesn't magically make it my Uncle Sam's job to provide for me.

Though you know what? My dad was the president of a pharmaceutical corporation traded on the NASDAQ before his retirement at the old age of *46*. I'm going to make a wild guess that he has more than two pennies in his bank account. And yet, he is FOR the Obama plan.

All that to say, sometimes people can have differing reasons for being for or against a particular thing. It doesn't HAVE to mean that either side is selfish or misinformed.

While I'm on the subject of misinformation, etc... sometimes these twisted truths come up because the real information is lacking. As I said, I'm the mom of three autistic kids, so I'll throw out for discussion...

Jenny McCarthy.

:] You know, people like that thrive and make money because moms and dads don't get real answers from the medical community sometimes. It is a sad, sad thing when I want to do research on a particular aspect of autism and the first five google results point to... my blog.

I can't even make a joke out of that one.

But (YES, I promise this is all related, Luke!!) what about a parent with a newly-diagnosed child? They're going to show up at my blog or directed off to buy Jenny McCarthy's books, or shot off on a tangent somewhere if they are not carefully directed by their medical providers.

So people would have to have trust in their medical people, and that isn't always there. And so it is with any organization, or government entity, or whatever. Misinformation is always going to be out there.

But I don't see the FDA prosecuting people like Jenny McCarthy for operating "fishy" websites. I think that move on the administration's part was a poor one, despite the relative veracity of some of the claims in cyberspace, don't you?

Luke said...

Cherish, I had a very nice weekend. Thanks! <smile>

And you're totally right, they have a much larger task at hand: "Granted, my position at Sonlight is probably significantly smaller--and of less mass appeal--than one of the hottest topics in the political world right now. But if you're opening yourself up to a barrage of emails, I hope you've got a system in place to handle them."
Unfortunately, they have yet to state (that I've heard of, at least) what they are doing with all this... and I have yet to hear of anyone getting any clarifying information from this initiative... so the jury is still out.

I also agree that people who oppose it without any knowledge are pretty foolish.

And, I'll agree with you that Christians who oppose it out of greed is also appalling. On the other hand, just because people want the government to get out of their pocketbooks does not mean that they do not want to care for the poor and sick... just they don't believe the government would be the best entity for the job.

Thanks for swinging by and sharing your side again! I think we all, especially as Christians, need to carefully consider how we respond to things.


Mrs. C, see, that's your problem: Healthcare is now a right, so it is well within the government's purview <laughing>.

Thanks for continuing to provide information for people looking into Autism! You're absolutely right: Sometimes the information just isn't there.

I do look forward to seeing what comes of this latest government initiative. So far, it's mostly just inspired people to flag sites on both sides of the issue <smile>.

~Luke

mareserinitatis said...

From what I've seen (based on Twitter posts), it appears that what they are doing is making videos to explain the truth about the health care presentation versus the rumors that are being circulated. The white house twitter account has posted links to a couple of these.

As far as the comment about Christians goes, I do find it rather appalling that someone would be opposed to healthcare for those who need it simply because it is the federal government providing it. Many of my friends who oppose it are very well off and oppose it for selfish reasons. On the other hand, I've seen a lot of Christians oppose it because they also are opposed to government (except when it suits their religious persuasion). I personally don't need it, but I grew up in a family that did and watched as my sister went through illness after illness that would have been easily fixed with a simple operation. By the time she got it, she was a step away from fatal illness and the only reason she got it was because of a Catholic charity. It should never have even gotten to that point, though. I know there are other people who deal with the same problems, and it horrifies me that it exists in a country where there are so many who live quite comfortably.

Luke said...

Cherish, thanks for mentioning that! I don't follow any political Twittering, but I did find the page with the videos: http://www.whitehouse.gov/realitycheck/

Thanks for mentioning them! I think some of the ire of "the Right" would have been calmed by this simple explanation.

From my understanding of tax law, the goal was to make it so a portion of our money was given away to those who needed it--to provide for those in need. In the past, this was handled very well by charities and churches. You could either give to charities and churches so they could help your community and other areas of interest, or you could give it to the government to dispense as it saw fit. I know several libertarians and they strongly believe that individuals should be able to choose how and where to give because they can and would make better use of their money than the government can or will.

So, in most of the cases I've seen, the issue is far more about politics and beliefs about the government than about religion and beliefs about God.

~Luke

mareserinitatis said...

BTW, if you wanted something "fishy", I think this qualifies:

http://bit.ly/10p9iC

Luke said...

I saw a similar post here and included it in my Other Posts of Note. Hilarious! That certainly is "fishy" <smile>.

~Luke


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