If you’re one of those people that has jumped on the Threads bandwagon lately (as in Threads, the new Twitter, or should I say “X”?), and you’re wondering why you have all kinds of people on your timeline you do not follow, that’s the algorithm in action. It works on the principle that past behavior is the best indicator of present and future behavior.
Yes, people are predictable and we tend to like people who are like us. This creates a very comfortable bias bubble where we can avoid those who don’t think the way we do, or do the way we do.
Protection from different opinions and lifestyles may create tribes we like to associate ourselves with, but they also prevent us from learning about people and interacting with people who are not like us.
It’s a bit like parents who only expose their kids to country music. There’s nothing wrong with country music, but there’s so much more to explore. And when you expose these kids to Bach or Beethoven, they may think it’s strange and not like it very much.
Seeing, hearing, feeling, touching and smelling new things enriches our lives in many ways.
Traveling to different countries, even working there, has changed my entire outlook on life. It becomes even better when you learn another language and get to delve into a whole new culture. It has helped me walk in other people’s shoes and it has increased my level of empathy.
It has also taught me that you can look at any issue in many ways, depending on who you are, where you live, and your level of education (among other things), AND that the world you and I see, is often a reflection of who we are.
If, for instance, you deeply believe that people are out to get you, that’s what you will see happening around you. But if you, on the other hand, believe that people are decent and kind, that’s what you’ll observe and encounter.
Perception, as they say in psychology, is mostly projection.
So, when social media purposefully limit our exposure to “otherness” of any kind so they can target the right advertising to the right demographic, it does society a huge disservice. It’s like giving us the ability to only spot things in our favorite color and the rest is grayed out. What a boring, boring world that would be!
Newsflash: it’s already happening!
Now, there’s one more thing I want to bring up in this context. It has to do with being critical.
If you -like me- believe that critical thinking is a vital skill to have these days, you have to welcome those who do not necessarily agree with you. You have to welcome independent thinkers who go against the grain, and make others a bit uncomfortable. You have to accept the fact that the way you view things can be challenged, and that it’s okay to ask questions.
Now, what bothers me is that in my community (the voice over community), those who ask critical questions are often seen as being “negative,” “unsupportive,” and “nasty.” As if the sole purpose of the critical thinkers is to bring others down and lift themselves up. As you may have guessed, I speak from experience.
I’ve been accused of being someone who has a bone to pick with certain individuals or businesses. When that happens, the focus shifts to some assumed personal vendetta, and is no longer on the issue. How convenient!
SOVAS UNDER FIRE
A recent example was my story about the Voice Arts Awards. In it I revealed that the independent website Charity Navigator gave the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences (SOVAS) 2 out of 4 stars because there’s no documentation of an independent audit or financial review, there’s no document retention and destruction policy, no whistleblower policy, and SOVAS has no conflict of interest policy. I think that’s a big deal when you’re running a competition.
After the story broke very few people thanked me for bringing this out into the open. Instead, I was verbally assaulted and asked to stop “my attack on Joan and Rudy.” Joan Baker and Rudy Gaskins run SOVAS as well as the Voice Arts Awards.
This is ridiculous for many reasons. First off, I am only the messenger. I am not responsible for what Charity Navigator concluded, which is available to the public, by the way. Secondly, I don’t know Joan and Rudy. I have never met them, and I probably never will.
Lastly, our community needs outspoken critical thinkers, just like any other community on the planet. We need people to call BS because not everything is hunky-dory in voiceoverland. Too many of my colleagues are afraid to stick their necks out so as not to damage their reputation.
BEING TOO LAME
The many podcasts, blogs, and YouTube “shows” we have about our business are among the lamest in the freelance community. “Let’s not say anything controversial, people, or you may never be nominated for a Unicorn Award…”
[oh gosh, now Paul is attacking the Unicorn Awards…]
I can already hear my critics accusing me of using this blog to vent my personal frustration, but that would be missing the point. I don’t care about how people perceive me. I think people need to break out of their bias bubbles and get out of their comfort zones. Not because I want the world to agree with me. I want the world to wake up and give a damn!
The SAG-AFTRA members are obviously sick of how they’ve been treated. They see what’s happening in terms of Artificial Intelligence. Most of them don’t make enough to qualify for health insurance. Many have more than one job to make ends meet. As far as I can tell most voice actors make even less, and all they do is post “I support the strike” messages on social media.
Meanwhile, voices dot com posts yet another lousy text-to-speech job on their platform: up to 300.000 words for $15,000 full buyout, and over 50 members have already auditioned. I don’t hear anyone complain about that. We’re too afraid to bite the greedy hand that feeds us. If people are okay with the Fiverr model, why would they stand up and fight for fair fees?
WHY AM I STILL DOING THIS?
Sometimes I wonder why I am still a member of this lame community. Sometimes I think of hanging up my blogger hat, and do something useful with my time. But that would be giving in to those who’d like to see me go away. I hate leaving unfinished business, and I have many colleagues who tell me that I say the things that they are thinking, but are afraid to share in public. It’s never been about me. It’s always about those people. The people I care about.
So, if you’re ready to burst out of your bubble and want to shake things up a little, stay tuned! I’ll keep on posting my daily videos on Instagram, and I’ll publish a new blog post every Thursday. My goal is to inform, entertain, and inspire you in thought-provoking ways.
If this speaks to you, I’ll keep on talking. Critics are welcome and encouraged to speak their mind in the comments.