danniewriter

Is this really your outrage?

https://youtu.be/psmpWVuCb8s

I find myself deleting, blocking and unfollowing more and more on social media these days. I’ve only had a couple of upsetting social media interactions myself, but they have left me, more than anything else, exhausted—and more than a little despondent about so-called “civil” discourse in the 21st century.

A couple of these interactions involved very intelligent people who, I thought, would be persuaded that they might have jumped to conclusions about a situation because they hadn’t yet read the latest developments. I naively thought that fairly irrefutable and verifiable facts would make a difference. One person politely agreed to disagree, the second blew her stack.

I really sound holier than thou, so let me be clear: I’ve fallen prey to fake news (that is, “real” fake news and not just facts that fail to support my point of view) and have been guilty of rushing to judgment … and sharing that judgment on social media. And while I never enjoy eating crow, I’ve tasted it before and generally will accept it again when I need to. Just pass the ketchup.

There’s a mob mentality online that has developed largely from the efforts of hard-working trolls. Most effective deceptions start with the tiniest grain of truth. Exaggeration and outright manufacturing are piled on again and again until the lie is presented as reality.

The result is that we perceive that the gulfs that exist between cultures, political parties, religions, etc., are not just unwieldy, they are insurmountable.

Which is exactly what some people want.

Soon, the 2020 presidential election will be just a year away, so I thought it was a good time to revisit a great piece of informational animation from acttv. The source is unapologetically left leaning, however, the content of this video is extremely balanced.

Sometimes the most outrageous and offensive information is accurate, but often it is not. Like the proverbial half-full/half-empty glass, it is a matter of perception, but even more diabolical, motive. A healthy distrust, and willingness to do some fact-finding on your own before commenting or sharing, is seriously lacking in civil discourse today, especially on social media platforms where people can be anonymous. Don’t borrow someone else’s outrage. We’ve all got plenty of our own.

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Dog Days at Jones Park

It’s a gorgeous, hot summer day in Gulfport. There’s always something going on at Jones Park, named for entrepreneur and city co-founder, Joseph T. Jones, but the pace definitely slows down when the sun is working extra hard.

Jones Park Marina with a view of the Ship Island lighthouse replica
This anchor next to the Barksdale Pavilion is quite the impressive landmark.
I imagined the seagull yelling, “I’m king of the world!” to his friends.
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Gifts and sacrifices

Dear Rep. Foster,

You don’t know me from Adam’s housecat, however, this is America, so I am privileged to share my opinion with you and countless other millions who don’t give a crap what I think. Lucky you.

I am writing, of course, about the recent kerfuffle you started when you denied Larrison Campbell, and by extension, Mississippi Today, access to your campaign unless she brought along a male colleague. While I respect your commitment to live a life above reproach, I think you have misunderstood its implications and responsibilities. At least, I am giving you the doubt that your motivation is indeed a principle, however misunderstood, and not a political calculation. But that is another subject.

Believers make adjustments in their lives to accommodate an imperfect world. Our willingness to adjust is a sign of our faith. It is possible that the world might take notice, but essentially, those adjustments are for an audience of one: God. In short, they are a gift to Him.

Fasting is perhaps the best example. Wildly paraphrased, Scripture says believers are to be bright eyed and bushy tailed when fasting so those around them will not notice. Why? Because the fast is a gift for an audience of one. Others might notice and even remark on someone skipping lunch or foregoing dessert during Lent, but the act, the sacrifice, is not for them.

Your insistence that Campbell bring a chaperone to her own interview is placing the burden of your sacrifice onto someone else. Hint: that means it’s no longer your sacrifice; it’s hers.

You invoke the late Rev. Billy Graham as the standard bearer for your decision even while admitting publicly that your motivation is to deprive your opponents political ammunition against you. I have a feeling that Graham let go of what the world thought of him way back when he was still putting up his own crusade tents.

I know it is trendy to lob disdain on the media. As a former reporter, I do a fair share of screaming at screens and the radio these days. However, the principle behind the outrage generated by your actions is sound. Cherry picking which media gets access to you might get some supporters on your side, however, to become governor, you need to convert a lot of undecided voters. This move just makes you look uncooperative, and quite frankly, a little whiney.

Just sayin’.

Stand your high ground, by all means, but take the responsibility upon yourself, where it belongs. Hire your own chaperone. After all, it’s not much of a gift if there’s no sacrifice behind it.

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A teachable moment

Actress/singer Erika Amato’s response to President Trump’s Independence Day gaffe is a big crowd pleaser. Read about Erika’s diverse career, reviews of her work and other highlights at www.erikaamato.com.

I would never wish a gaffe upon anyone as big as the mistake perpetrated by President Trump on Independence Day, but as someone who loves history, I found it just a tad gratifying. Sound strange? People often have that response when reading my posts, so please bear with me.

I imagined cellphones being pulled out across the nation as people asked themselves, “Exactly how many years off was he?” I pictured very small children asking why various beverages had just shot from their parents’ noses when the infamous remark was made.

The fact that people, especially young ones, are curious enough to ask questions about the past is a life preserver of optimism to which I cling mightily when I see “on the street” interviews where over 18ers opine that the presidential cabinet is a piece of furniture.

In recent years, the question of America’s history, especially in the South, has been a topic of heated debate as leaders, and entire communities, have opted to remove statues, plaques and names from public spaces and buildings. The country’s brutal past of slavery and racial discrimination is by no means a Southern phenomenon, but I think it’s fair to say that, in many corners of the region, there is a tendency to deliberately misunderstand the opposition of such symbols.

After all, in many areas of the South, it was commonplace to refer to the Civil War as “the recent unpleasantness,” into the 20th century.

We have an opportunity here, not to erase history by tearing down monuments and removing plaques, although in some cases I think that is entirely appropriate, and in just about all cases, I think a community is well within its right to make such a decision. Additionally, I am certainly not suggesting that we engage in group denial and giving into political correctness.

The opportunity is to get the story right … or at least as close to right as our faulty human nature will allow.

Ripping down statues is quick and easy. Putting history into context takes time and strength of will. And in some cases, it takes exploration. There are many important people who were so disenfranchised during their lifetimes, their stories are not yet fully known.

I ran across a profound piece of writing that illustrates beautifully the great need we have as a country for balance, context and “the whole story.” I hope you will take time to read Carly Berlin’s essay, Two Houses on the Eatonton-Milledgeville Road, recently posted on The Bitter Southerner.

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Hello, Sailor

Keeping vigil at 13th St. and U.S. 49 in downtown Gulfport is this gorgeous stainless steel creation by Jim Collins, an artist from Signal Mountain, Tenn.

Sailor by Jim Collins, photographed by Dannie Prather, #fotophriday
Sailor’s oar is made of bronze. She’s located across from another Gulfport icon, the Half Shell Restaurant. #fotophriday
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Crisis Capitalization

My new home state of Mississippi has really taken it on the chin this year. Parts of the Delta began flooding in February and still are underwater. To attempt to alleviate one catastrophic event, floodwaters from the Mississippi River have been released into the Gulf, creating another catastrophe. Dolphins and turtles have died, and the men and women who harvest oysters, shrimp and other delicacies from the deep have almost nothing to show for their labors because of the freshwater/floodwater contamination.

The continued release from the Bonnet Carré spillway has made the seasonal “dead zone” of oxygen-starved saltwater one for the record books, precipitating an algae bloom that now has closed many, but not all, beaches to swimming and water sports just in time for the Independence Day holidays.

There’s no sugar-coating the facts: the situation for farmers, fishers, plants and virtually all other forms of flora and fauna is decidedly bleak. Nevertheless, Mississippians on the Gulf have not thrown in the towel for the summer tourism season. In the process, they have provided an excellent lesson in “Don’t Panic PR.”

Milton Segarra, CEO of Coastal Mississippi, the regional tourism bureau, set just the right tone of concern and optimism along with a dash of “algae blooms happen all the time. We’ve got this.”

“We are a warm weather destination. We are in the Gulf of Mexico; this happens,” Segarra told WLOX-TV. His response wasn’t flippant, however. He emphasized that the closures were necessary to protect the public. The algae causes some nasty symptoms when people come in contact with it.

Now, no one wishes that the flooding, freshwater release and algae bloom had happened, but in a weird way, the challenge actually reinforced Coast Mississippi’s rebranding effort that began earlier this year.

The bureau’s previous name was Visit Mississippi Gulf Coast. “Coast is the place where the water meets the land, but coastal encompasses the beaches, the water and the land beyond,” Segarra said in the rebranding announcement.

The fact is, there is a great deal of beauty and charm in the region. And even if I can’t wade in the Gulf, the joy and peace I get from a beach sunset such as the one above is gift enough.

I hope tourists will take Segarra’s advice, keep their vacation plans unchanged, and explore beyond the beach. I’m sure they won’t be disappointed.

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Tell the world your mousetrap is best

It’s exhausting sometimes to complete a project only to have it returned to you with notations about everything you did wrong. When writing, I usually focus on composing positive statements, but sometimes the most efficient way to tackle a problem is to look at the mistakes that have been made up to this point.

Writing for the Balance Small Business, Alyssa Gregory compiles a concise list of seven common marketing errors, and most important, how to avoid them. They are:

  • not having a marketing plan
  • being unclear about what makes your business different
  • trying to sell to everyone
  • underestimating the power of word-of-mouth advertising
  • being scared of social media
  • refusing to try new marketing activities
  • ignoring the competition

From this list, “being unclear about what makes your business different,” and “ignoring the competition,” really caught my eye. My grandmother often used the well-known bit of wisdom, “build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.” That means knowing everything about your product and service, including how it compares to your competition’s products and services. It sounds so simple, but too often small businesses operate in a bubble, doing their own thing day after day, never considering why customers are spending their money elsewhere.

What makes your “mousetrap” revolutionary? Get specific about what sets you apart from the competition. If you need assistance in telling your story, contact me. The initial consultation is free.

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When nothing is everything

About the photo: Artist Amy Peters creates a mural in downtown Hopkinsville, Ky., in preparation for the 2017 solar eclipse. (Photo by Meredith Willse for the Kentucky New Era)

What do Oreo cookies and Mountain Dew® have to do with the hit HBO series Game of Thrones?

Absolutely nothing, but sometimes nothing is everything.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones kicks off April 14. The build-up is saturating headlines, social media and conversation. What business wouldn’t want to take a ride on the hem of that cape?

GoT-themed cookies are just the tip of the marketing iceberg. To get an idea of how brands are capitalizing on the show, check out Rebecca Jennings’ article on Vox.

If something has captured the public’s attention, consider how your small business might make the most of it. A direct connection between your company and the event in question is good, of course, but if the event is big enough, that doesn’t matter.

The 2017 total eclipse was a big deal in my home state, Kentucky. Hopkinsville was the largest city in the area of greatest eclipse. The event was on the horizon, pun intended, for a while, so it gave businesses and non-profits a long time to squeeze every drop of potential from this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

What are people talking about in your community? Join a coffee klatch. Brainstorm with your fellow merchants or non-profits. Join neighborhood Facebook groups or Next Door. There might be something big on the horizon that takes your brand to the next level.

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Embrace something new

I’ve been collecting articles and infographics for a while now, searching for resources that will inspire owners/leaders of local small businesses and non-profits to try something new in their marketing for 2019.

Of all the infographics I’ve seen lately, this one from Larry Kim and MobileMonkey, Inc. seemed especially useful. Take a moment to look over each suggestion, and I bet you will find an example in your universe of work or philanthropy.

Can’t see it? Call me and I’ll help you connect the dots. I’d love to meet you, and the first consultation is free of charge.

The second resource comes from Forbes, and is a tad highfalutin in my opinion, but there are some immensely valuable insights here for a business or non-profit that is struggling to make a go of it right now.

Don’t get bogged down with the techno-speak and alphabet soup … yes, I had to look up some of the stuff mentioned here. Instead, focus on those broad principles that the author, Billee Howard, has shared.

Check out the “about” and “services” sections on my blog, then schedule an appointment. I live and work on the Gulf Coast, so don’t let the Kentucky area code confuse you. I’d love to meet you and to learn more about your business/organization.

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Foto Phriday

Christmas Pansies

One of the things I love most about living in the U.S. is the vast diversity of geography and climate in our 50 states. Among other things, it guarantees that weather is always an appropriate, informative, entertaining, and reasonably safe conversation to have with strangers.

“You’re from Minnesota? What’s the most snow you’ve ever seen?”

“You live in Louisiana? Is the humidity down there as bad as they say?”

Sometimes there is this tendency, especially on social media, to try to “outdo” uncomfortable weather conditions with someone living in another part of the country.

“Oh, you think 100 degrees is hot? In Phoenix, we consider that mild in June.”

A hearty Dakotan might say: “Wait until you have to function at 30-below … and that’s air temperature, not wind chill. Wind chills are for wimps who want to think they know what real cold is like.”

And so it goes.

As a recent transplant to Mississippi, I find myself hesitant to comment about balmy weather in December, for fear that my friends and family in colder climes will think me insensitive or obnoxious. Having arrived in Gulfport the end of August, I am all too aware that the proverbial shoe will be on the other foot come the dog days of summer that extend into November.

Truthfully, the only thing I’m really prone to gloat about, and it’s not really gloating more than weeping with gratitude, is the price of gasoline down here right now. ($1.82/gallon for Pete’s sake!)

The fact is: I am fascinated by the change in climate, and consider it an integral part of getting to know my new home. So, when I post photos of Christmas pansies, or comment that “here it is a few days before Christmas and the swimming pools down here are still full,” … it’s not meant to rub anyone’s nose in the snow outside his window. Like every time I drive down Beach Boulevard and see the Gulf of Mexico, it’s just a reminder to pinch myself: “Yep, I’m really here.”

Merry Christmas!

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