I keep getting asked this question:
“Do you think using the media is good way to spread an important message?”
I absolutely do! There are some things worth mentioning before jumping into something as crazy as a potential media firestorm, though.
MAKE SURE THE DECISION IS UNANIMOUS.
Your entire family needs to be on-board. You are a unit, make important decisions as one. A media firestorm will effect every member of your family, so you’ll all need to be prepared.
DO NOT TAKE MONEY.
If your passion happens to be your job, that is one thing. If you, independent of employment, choose to make a big statement through the media about a cause you believe in, it should be done for free. That includes follow-up interviews.
BE READY FOR ATTACK.
Even if your message is portrayed beautifully, some people will still hate it. It would be naive to think otherwise. (Remember: you aren’t doing this to make friends.)
YOU HAVE NO CONTROL.
You will be taking a (hopefully, educated) risk. If the publicity is coming from well-known popular sources, you will not be given creative control. You will reach more people, but even the most discerning person cannot predict what the final editors will produce. With that being said, even if it is not portrayed well, keep in mind your reasons for participating; good inevitably will come from your work. The Time cover shot was by no means offensive, but the cover as a whole was not the message we wanted to convey. However, many other magazines came out with their own versions of the cover. Those covers would have never been created and released if it weren’t for the less-than-desirable cover that hit such a nerve with the public.
YOU WILL HAVE SUPPORTERS.
No matter how the media swings it, there will be discerning people that understand the message and cause. They will rally to help spread the message. Bask in this small victory to help fuel your resolve.
YOU WILL HAVE “FRIENDS” COMING OUT OF THE WOODWORK.
If it gets big enough, this will inevitably happen. For me, I knew exactly who my friends were before going into the media battlefield. They (not surprisingly) ended up being exactly who I thought they were (loyal, loving, supporting, encouraging… etc.)
However, some people will try to connect themselves with you through association. There were people I’ve never had any communication with before who claimed to have a personal connection with me to help publicize their own agenda (business, blog, website). A lot of untruths were written, but the people were giving more clout because they claimed to be a friend or colleague.
Bottom line: people will try to make money off of you from every angle imaginable.
OUR SOCIETY HAS THE ATTENTION SPAN OF A GOLDFISH.
No matter how crazy it gets, just know that people will forget about you, but they won’t forget about the issues you’ve brought up.
YOU ARE TOUGHER THAN YOU THINK.
I keep hearing, “you are so brave” or “you are really tough.” Well, most people are. This is not unique to a small percentage of the population. Our culture uses fear as the the opiate for the masses, to keep us all in our little undisturbed boxes. The first day or two, I was scared for fear of the unknown. When it got to the height of the coverage and negativity (and if you didn’t notice, it was exceptionally covered in negative way) I remember thinking, “This is it?” Negative media attention is not scary, it is silly.
Do not be afraid of people saying negative things about you. Society wants us to believe it is the worst thing that can happen, but 1. It is easily manageable 2. Our world needs change, and it won’t happen if we don’t rock the boat.
DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY.
It is impossible for someone to personally attack you if they don’t know you. They may think they know you, but really they are responding with their own filters to an image/thought they have confused for a human being.
Below are some examples of why getting judged from strangers is no big deal, and why fear of it should not stop you from continuing on with your message.I haven’t googled or looked anything up about myself since the cover came out. However, my friends definitely keep me informed about the most amusing and bogus of claims…
Or as I’d like to call it…
Stupid S*** Strangers Have Said About Me:
(I won’t even go into the weird stuff they said about Brian or the boys….)
- I’m Native American. Great!…Well, except I’m not. I do love the movie Dances With Wolves, does that count for something? My sister has American Indian Princess Syndrome (being Scandinavian, Sudanese, Armenian, and Romanian isn’t interesting enough, I guess). She was pretty excited to hear she was Native American by rumor and relation.
- I’m a model. At 5’3.75” (those three-quarters are important to me) and my husband will back me up on this, not a bit photogenic. I should be delighted by the confusion, but this misinformation was used for strange malicious rants.
- I’m really in my early 30s. As if being mistaken for that prime age was supposed to be an insult?
- My blog was named “I am Not the Babysitter” because it is proud statement against babysitters and any sort of childcare.Sure…it has nothing to do with the fact that I am the size and shape of a prepubescent 12 year old girl and my children, physically, do not match me. Oh, and that it clearly states on my blog that I am chronically confused for the babysitter. No, that makes too much sense.
Katherine Dettwyler pointed out a great scientific fact to me after the release of the cover and I will share her insightful and articulate words with you: “People are idiots…Don’t listen to them.”
Don’t stop fighting for something you believe in because of others. Some people are just morons and really don’t have anything better to do than make up stories about people they don’t know.