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Opinions Aren’t Facts: Business, Politics and Fake News

How does a polarized community, country or world affect the business community.

Global Influencer

Global Influencer
Global Influencer

No one has used the term ‘Silent Majority’ for some time. According to Wikipedia, the silent majority is an unspecified large group of people in a country or group who do not express their opinions publicly. Used in recent times by President Richard Nixon to indicate his belief that the great body of Americans supported his policies and that those who demonstrated against the involvement of the United States in the Vietnam War amounted to only a noisy minority. Nixon along with many others saw this group of Middle Americans as being overshadowed in the media by the more vocal minority.

Why bring up it up? Why quote a disgraced US President? Because of what is happening in the US, Canada and the world, for that matter, people are disproportionately polarized in business and politics.

People hate Apple AAPL, and say their Samsung is the only phone. Some feel incensed by the comparison. Brands are loved or hated. If you like Trump, you’re vilified. In Canada, a supposedly moderate liberal Trudeau is now a left wing politician. Politics, race, religion particularly in the US has become a statement of ‘I’m right and you are so wrong.’

Everything is black and white!

I ran for politics several years ago in a city election in the ‘burbs of Vancouver. I was told I ‘had’ to join a political party or face losing. When I was given ‘canned’ answers to every possible question that could possibly come my way, I quit the election. I would not be muzzled. Why would anyone in their right mind run for politics in this current culture?

Why is this relevant to business people? How does a polarized community, country or world affect the business community? The world is run and managed by big corporations. That’s not hard to fathom.

I told my mother that I agree with some of President Trump’s policies. She was upset with me for days – my mother! My mother has never had a critical thought in her long life, let alone an outright opinion on anything political.

When I took a stand against the Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to BC, I had major backlash from business leaders and ‘Joe Average’ who told me I was a left-wing radical. I was telling some business friends about my views against the pipeline and the environment and I was stunned by their indifference to the environment and absolute support for the oil pipeline. Had I underestimated everyone? Am I the exception to the rule? Hmmm, interesting how I can appreciate Trump but be called a left wing radical.

I can see the political issues in the US festering because it is a two party system, liberals and conservatives but when did the opinions of individuals start to mean nothing? The correct opinion is one that is imposed on the most people by the most vocal of the media.

The weird thing is that when 24-hour news became popular and required by the public, opinions by respected journalists replaced their factual news reporting. It’s not a wonder that most people see ‘fake news’ differently.

Gwyneth Paltrow is coming to Canada to tout her ‘Goop’ brand, her wellness empire. Her website has drawn criticism for promoting practices critics say have no basis in science and she faces strong opposition to her visit. There will be many people picketing her presence. Again, others are saying their opinions are right and someone is wrong. Can’t we beg to differ?

I am working as a volunteer on former Canadian Member of Parliament and candidate for Mayor of Vancouver, Wai Young. I don’t decide policy, attend rallies or candidate meetings. I know bull when I hear it and after being introduced to this candidate I believed she would not be party to the dusty old backrooms and glass ceilings of the past. She had credentials and more importantly credibility. I simply told the campaign that as a social media influencer I would volunteer to ‘get the word out.’

This week, I posted an announcement from a campaign dashboard that I thought was for public consumption – oops! It was accurate but days premature. An adept reporter from the Vancouver Sun, Dan Fumaro, called me early the next day and asked me a few general questions. I don’t really follow local politics but just knew when I was introduced to Ms. Young that I wanted to help her in my small way.

After what was a fair article came out that day I received ‘opinions’ from accredited news reporters slamming me, shaming me and poking ‘fun’ at me as well as impugning my credibility. I guess that’s what counts as news now. Trying to make the loudest voice the right opinion. I guess the political writers had already decided their choice for a candidate and they didn’t think it was fair for a guy with a large social media footprint to get involved.

According to Global News, most Canadians believe Canadian broadcast news but 38% think it is ‘fake news.’ That’s way too high a figure. To me, news is supposed to be factual. Why would I trust a newsreader’s opinion over experts. People can tell the difference and now they see every face on the news as a pundit for some political viewpoint not as an unbiased reporter.

Reporter Fumaro called me the day after the article was published for more clarification as to my status in Wai Young’s campaign because of election laws that have limits on donated services. Apparently, others were now making a mountain out of a molehill with my involvement as the governance around British Columbia elections began looking at me.

Now, I am a published author of two books, writer for numerous publications including the Toronto Star and have written 105 articles for Equities, I have hesitated to use the word journalist preferring to use writer, but have decided if pompous journalist detractors of me can use vile language and think they can intimidate me they are mistaken. I will cover the news and support whoever I want just as they do in their clandestine and biased way under their guise of news.

Using my favourite source, Wikipedia, a “ journalist is a person who collects, writes, or distributes news or other current information to the public. A journalist’s work is called journalism.”

I liked a simpler time. I liked a time when people listened and judged things for themselves. When they didn’t show racism by being racist, when they respected the freedom of speech without trying to stifle others and when they prefaced broadcasts on television with “in my opinion.”

Gary is a Management Consultant and Social Media Influencer, author of “Social Media Rockstar” and Adjunct Professor of Social Media Marketing, MBA School of Management, New York Institute of Technology (Vancouver Campus). He is an outspoken Canadian by nature.

As the markets put the debt ceiling debacle in the rearview mirror, more than a few issues remain open.