This is an archived blog from when I ran Conscious Public Relations Inc. from 2008-2018. Excuse the potential outdated-ness!
James Hoggan, The Discourse, and the idea of more information for good
Last week my team and I attended the launch of James Hoggan‘s newest book, I’m Right and You’re an Idiot: The Toxic State of Public Discourse and How to Clean it Up. I could have listened to Hoggan for hours talk about this topic as I think the amount of information that can be out there in the cyber-verse is endless – and toxic if not addressed or controlled in some way. What was interesting to hear is that Hoggan said he’d never been angrier than the time before writing the book (and I’m sure he was pretty angry when he wrote Climate Cover-Up) BUT he gained a new perspective after speaking with the people he interviewed for the book. He said that a spiritual thread was running through all of them and I was bit jealous when he said that he had met Thich Nhat Hahn.
When I heard this notion of spirituality to combat public discourse, I wasn’t very surprised. What drives people from apathy (or other negative qualities) to change is when people themselves or the ones they love are threatened by the status quo. And the status quo never changes unless people take in new information and a sense of personal responsibility to change for the better. I found myself thinking about my training and how it’s helped me to realize that I have no one to blame for my circumstances other than myself. Yes, things happen to me but I ALWAYS take responsibility for my reactions. And that’s something not all people know.
I also wonder if Jim knows about B Corporation and this growing force of companies doing business for good. I’ve wondered when the right time was to tell him about this, so maybe it’s time now.
One of my family members was pretty outraged when I posted this article about China telling its citizens to cut back on meat and egg consumption and said that it might be a good thing for governments to step in and set rules when it comes to these things. I meant that if the ethic behind the rule was the health of citizens this would be good, but I also know that rules all have grey areas and it can be hard to determine what the right thing is. If family members cannot agree, how can the world expect to? It again comes back to what we do with the information we receive. Apathy or change?
I was reminded about another local company, The Discourse, that creates in-depth journalism projects about complex issues. Co-Founder Erin Millar will be on a panel to talk about the idea of Solutions Journalism: Reporting on responses to social problems at Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation on June 3. ‘Solutions journalism – yes!’ I screamed in my mind. Journalism CAN be a force for good and I think it was intended to be this way in the beginning, but people with opposing values have been controlling media for many decades now. It’s time that the media shifts in the other direction where I believe many consumers are hoping it will. Media companies like The Intercept are helping with this as well.
When’s the last time you heard a piece of information that CHANGED you for the better?